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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Grown-ish.

After watching several interesting “The Skin Deep” YouTube videos of people playing this cool card game which initiates heart conversations, I purchased a couple of card sets of my own to play with others. One of the questions asked on one of the cards was:

At what moment did you realize you found yourself?

It has been a little shy of 4 months since I have turned 32, and I have reflected and stretched so frickin’ much. Yet and still, this question was and still is complex for me. I can think of leaps in my maturity and pivotal experiences that helped me get closer to wholeness, but as I get older I realize that we’re all on a lifetime journey of becoming complete in Christ. He did the work, yes, but we are walking it out. He had to pick up His cross, and now we are picking up ours and following.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

I am scratching all future new years’ resolutions and declaring that my eternal resolution is Yeshua: Jesus, My Redemptive Savior and Friend. He is truly my only Answer, Way and Hope of better. At the age of 32, all I want is The Truth without dilution or perversion. Four years ago God was teaching me that He was all that I needed, and today, He’s all that I want. .

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” – Isaiah 40:8 NLT

I am becoming increasingly sound and secure in Christ, but maybe it won’t be until age 90 or something (lol) when I can confidently say that I have *clears throat* “found myself”. Afterall, I am still discovering God. With Him as my focus, all of the rest will come, right?

While there are many childish things I have put away, there are also a few childish things that I have adopted (Matthew 18:3-4). I got a lot of questions for my King, loads of things to continue to unlearn, debunk and grasp. There are more experiences to test me and more areas of my flesh to murder. I am still exploring heaven…on earth.

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT)

My discoveries thus far have been wonderful, peace-granting and stabilizing indeed, but I am not done. Or, not completely undone, I should say. So, if you’re anything like me…cheers to being grown-ish! It won’t always be easy unraveling, but let the adventure continue!

©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Lost Files: Petty Theft

I recently found an old memo that I wrote in my kindle that I thought I’d share with you all. It’s about an experience that I had in June 2016 testing my integrity and well, my identity in Christ, to be honest. Though some aspects of this little note may seem too silly to mention, I really hope it ministers to someone struggling with integrity. Integrity is one of the many marks of a child of God, and it’s such a beautiful root of trust that intertwines with the motivations of our heart.

I can’t remember if I actually published this note in my book, Before You Soar. It may be a “lost file” or an excerpt. Either way, I’ll just keep it rough and copy and paste it below “as is”, and hope you’re blessed and encouraged.

A testimony of faith.
The Lord’s refinement.
Embracing the process.
In the valley.
In the fire.
Through the storm.
New creation.

Deliverance.

Job. Loss of friends.

June 11, 2016 – morning

I understand how or why people who have little or none steal to meet their need. I’ve been tested to justify breaking of the 8th commandment on several occasions during this season, especially since I’ve been living in this house unfairly compensated. I’m talking petty thefts like a few q-tips and little body wash to just stay clean in this heat. Coincidentally it’s the same brand I use. Satan is good at what he does. My soap is in a container broken into little pieces and I dare not throw it away. I used a few q-tips and felt convicted, so recently I purchased some to refill their package before I move out. They’ll never know, but me and God will always. I can’t be trusted with much if I’m unfaithful with little. If “it’s just a q-tip”, then I just need to leave it alone. It doesn’t belong to me and it isn’t part of my living arrangement agreement. She is to provide food only, and I’m grateful she finally stepped up to the plate on that one. I don’t want to do to her what she was doing to me.

©2018 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

“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

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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.

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#DearHubby: A Love Letter to My Future Spouse 

On October 24, 2014, following an inspiring bible study on the topic of “The Unloved Woman”, I decided to write a letter to my unknown husband-to-be. I’ve gone back and forth on my decision to share it for the simple fact that it’s his letter and was originally intended for his eyes only. But, I gotta.  I guess this is what happens when your wife-to-be is a writer. Lord, bless him! Here’s what I wrote to my boo thang (giggles). I hope there’s another woman or man out there like myself who can relate to this post and finds it timely and refreshing.

Hey Dear,

I went to bible study tonight and returned home feeling both blessed and a mess! The speaker brought a word to us on “The Unloved Woman” and broke it down, identifying the why and this unloved woman’s characteristics. She said an unloved woman is dangerous because she is likely to cause harm. There are 6 types of this woman, and I identified with “the single woman never loved properly”. This woman says they don’t want or need things as a cover up. She doesn’t believe it’s genuine. Dang, that was me.

I received the word that FAITH HAS A VOICE. I realized that all of my “waiting” was due to a lack of faith. I’ve been saying I don’t want, what I do want. I’ve been nonchalant and complacent. The speaker has this ministry for single women. They (we) made baskets full of goodies for our husbands-to-be. Mine of course, is for you dear ☺. Before I let you dive in, I want you to know that I’m doing what’s necessary to get right, and tonight’s exposure was a great first step. God’s going to heal me for you. You’re worth my time and I am too.

So, I got a basket. Initially I got it because even though I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this whole marriage thing again, something in me knew it was right. So by faith, I will feel so right by the time it is full. I’m praying for you and me individually and collectively. I love you so much and truly want the best for you, so…I gotta do my part.

I don’t want you to have a broken woman. We will not awaken our love until it is time. I feel it won’t be long…so I’m working hard by submitting to God, being honest, and allowing him to make me whole.

Dear God, Please do not let my husband suffer on account of me. May I never blaspheme your word! Finding me as his wife WILL be good for eternity. 

I don’t want to be easy to love for just a while, I want to be easy to love for life. I bind the spirit of complacency. I submit to the Holy Spirit and say, “have your way, God.”

Any who…love you.

xoxo,
yo ☺