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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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

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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.

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

Sweet 16: A #Reflective #Poem and #Prayer for a #HappyNewYear

Whew.

You grew me up sweetly through the times that were bitter. I mean, I moved four times, wrote two books, and forgave seventy times seven, all while being a sitter.

Instead of buying, I traded. ‘Cause the new things I wanted didn’t cost dollars, they cost souls; something way more valuable than silver and gold. It’s just a fresh perspective on a word that is old.

Death was but a shadow that couldn’t stand the light, so we won. The truth? It made me free to soar over seas, flowers, and trees, pollinating like bees, please believe I ain’t the same because of it; see me. You will…when you start seeing Him. When He opens your eyes and your vision ain’t grim. It will be beautiful, and I smile at the thought of being a part of the giving of the gift that I got.

Like Mali said, “I fight for you, I’m right for you, I’m here on purpose”. And I’m not waiting to the end…of the year for the storm to be over and your heart to repent. By faith, I welcome the rainbows now, and before ’17 comes, I pray God makes it happen somehow.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
– 2 Chronicles 7:14

© 2016 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

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

 

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Back to Basics.

Society convinces us that we have to be the masters and creators of our own destiny. We are consistently urged and praised for being trendy, multi-tasking go-getters, that ride or die, hustle and flow, with faces that are “beat” and “eyebrows on fleek”. Social, economic, and educational systems have been installed like conveyor belts to strategically move us along through life like lab rats, with little allowance to function outside of them. Death seems to be the only way out, and somehow, we have to get back to the basics. What does God say?

Wait for Him. (Psalm 27:14)
Be Still. (Psalm 46:10)
Trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5)
Seek Him. (Matthew 6:33)
Don’t Worry. (Philippians 4:6)
Your Beauty is Internal. (1 Peter 3:3)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2 (NLT)

I find myself having to ask God often if He is pleased with me, and I find myself often shocked to learn that He is. I’m shocked because His way seems to strike such a nerve with so many people, that even I doubt at times, hmm…maybe I was wrong. I am grateful for his affirmations of the truth. I guess Jesus had the same problem on earth as well. He challenged the thoughts of many hearts and upset a lot of people by bringing His sword.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10 (ESV)

The truth forces people to make a knowledge-based choice that they are accountable for on the day of judgement. It disrupts their ignorant bliss, while making God smile. So if the world is unhappy with your decisions, you’re likely doing something right. You go, girl!

Sadly, we have gotten so used to the glory that God has bestowed upon us, that we seemed to have forgotten where it is from. “We woke up like this”, remember? No longer are we humbly asking our Father to move on our behalf. Instead, we are abusing His power and making demands and declarations to get what we want in our own timing. We’re moving on our own behalf, taking matters into our own hands, and although it’s unholy, it works.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)

We have to get back to the basics. There’s much forgiveness to be asked of God and so much unlearning that needs to take place within us, but gratefully Jesus left us with a beautiful gift of help for the process; The Holy Spirit.

The masses want to be rich, and many are slowly dying, trying. We’ve allowed money to come in and take the wheel and drive our actions, when the most liberating path of life is one under the control of God. We all have desires within our hearts— some that God has placed there, and others that we may need to let go, if serving Christ His way is our goal. We must embrace the truth that we all have different God-given portions as well. Our portions may or may not even require that we have certain natural or spiritual gifts. That is the beauty of being a member of the body of Christ; we all have a different beauty mark.

With our variety of beauty marks, we share the beautiful promise that God will supply all of our needs. That’s a promise to rejoice over! Have you ever wanted something that you just didn’t need? I think we all have. I have found that grateful and content people are the richest people! Dollars are on the bottom of their list of things they perceive as valuable. Their enjoyment of life is not contingent on a paycheck or salary. They praise God when they have little and when they have much. They praise God for who He is, not for what He can do for them. They go back to the basics as often as necessary, returning to their first love, Jesus Christ.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

God is on your side, and I do genuinely believe that one of the many ways that He wants to bless us is financially, but He knows the truth within our hearts and for some us, let’s face it: money is a god in our life. It has way too much value! If God gave us all the money we could ever dream of today, and asked us to give it all to our neighbor tomorrow, He knows that some of us would struggle with obeying His voice. That’s a problem. So, He’s sweet and very patient with us. He tests our faithfulness on smaller scales. He’s a good Father who well prepares and equips His children. So when He pops the question on a larger scale, the truth in our hearts (regardless of the dollar amount) will be, a cheerful “it’s a small thing”. God is a jealous God, so if money means too much to you (and He knows if it does), then the chances of you getting it (from Him) are slim.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. – Philippians 3:8 & 9 (ESV)

We have to get back to the basics. At the end of the day, despite the many disguises, there are only two masters to choose from and serve; God or money. Every choice that we make is linked to the servitude of one of those masters. We have to decide if we want to know the truth, and be honest with ourselves about what we’ve been embracing as a lie. It can all be a humbling experience, but it births something beautiful and it is amazing how God’s grace and love remains constant through it all. You can do it.

*Special thanks to the LYBM team for allowing me to contribute this post!

© 2016 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson