“New Normal”

There is a lot of sensitivity and controversy regarding the terminology “new normal”, and I get it. Many (nations!) are experiencing grief collectively and some more intimately. A lot of our comforts are gone, and to be frank, some. things. just. suck! Feel that, breathe, and release that, friend.

God is doing something interesting in this season that we can’t ignore. Honestly, aspects of this experience have been a bit like déjà vu for me. I’ve been here before, and I’m telling you: this is a temporary, great and loving time of preparation that can be so refining if we let it! *sings* “Let every hearrrt, prepare Him roooom!”

I don’t know about you, but my soul yearns for something new! I no longer want to settle for the old, warped, way anymore. Maybe you have to wrestle with the fact that you really liked the old way, even if it was a little toxic. Own and grieve your truth, but I really do hope that you can eventually get on board with the great things that God has in store for us. Don’t you want Jesus to return?! Well, there are some things that must take place inside, out.

We can all come out of this at a new level in Christ, closer to who we’re destined to be. Whatever test(s) that you’ve been administered in this season, I know that with The Helper (the Holy Spirit), you can pass it! Whatever personal storm you might be caught in, I know that you can walk through it peacefully with the Holy Spirit as your guide.

Once all of this COVID-19 social distancing mayhem is over, we will never be the same again. For our souls’ sake, there will be a new normal and it’s a good thing! Allow my heart to elaborate, the best way I know how…

The new normal was birthed in quarantine.
It stripped us of our rags
Destroying every seam
It looked like a nightmare
Until we discovered it’s disguise
Some questioned, some drew near
Started to prioritize and compromise

True colors readily revealed
While we all sat with God
Exposed and finally still
Comforted by His staff and His rod

Laid off, furloughed,
Working from home
Wearing a mask, keeping our distance
Spending time with family
And alone

Snacks and more snacks
Another email and zoom meeting
Online schooling in pajamas
Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook,
Yet the time is still fleeting

Can’t sit at a restaurant?
Face your fears
Have a seat at this table
‘Wash your hands all ye sinners’
Trust God…He’s able

Everything’s been factored in…
to The Master’s plan of perfection
Please believe we’re still winning
The news you hear is full of deception

6 feet apart, or else 6 feet under
Is what they say, and so it seems
Whatever
Just save our souls first, Jesus
Is all my heart screams

So serious about The Sabbath
He lent us time for keeps
A sigh of relief and contrite heart of worship
Peace…as the nation weeps

This isn’t a game of poker
#StayHome
No bids on covid, all in on GOD
Straighter posture for the weak
20/20 vision for the road we trod.

©2020 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

I'm Talking About "Them"

Over the years, as God has been shaping and refining me, I have noticed that my character defends me time and time again. I’ve seen the enemy silenced, narratives debunked, and foes scattered. God knows how to get things done, my friends, and what an honor it is to be used to getthingsdone for the kingdom! It’s worth it to just show up sometimes.

The Lord  will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

Deuteronomy 28:7 (NKJV)

I know society tells us not to dwell on the past. I’ve said it too, but today I’m talking about it. I’m talking about them. Those we know have had negative conversations about us behind our backs. Those frenemies who have fired shots with backhanded compliments and somehow caused public humiliation…without public notice. Those who have allowed their jealousy to rise up and morph them into bullies, making us their target. Those who have rallied troops against you…and me. Those who have masked their nosiness with concern, only to vomit all you’ve shared, with, guess who? more of them!

This is what I have to say to you about them.

Forgive them.

Call me naïve, but I wholeheartedly believe that there are so many who know not what they do when they do those evil things. We don’t know all that is in our deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9)! I think few people are hurting us intentionally, and many are living and loving the best way they can…even if that way is trash. Forgiveness doesn’t mean a rocked relationship will be restored to what it was. It may be better, it may be very different, it may or may not be both.

Forgiveness does not mean excusing.

– C.S. Lewis

Forgiveness can be super tough, but is always worth it. It keeps our most prized relationship (with God) intact and functioning healthily. The sin of unforgiveness is way too costly for us to allow it to gestate. It can manifest through bitterness, physical pain, strife, sickness, disease, etc., as it slowly… separates…us…from…God. Christ gave us a prescription for many things on the cross. Pardon them, He pardons you (Matt. 6:14).

Don’t bend for them.

I know the room is dark, but keep showing up and letting that light of yours shine. oh, and please don’t dim it when you get there. I know you feel alone, but God is on your side, fighting for you! Dwell on the good that God has done and keep a grateful heart. Don’t let them make you shrink back or give in. I know you don’t want them around, but God has prepared a pretty awesome table for you in their presence. The spread is for you, friend! 😉

You prepare a feast [table] for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalm 23:5 (NLT)

Pray and release them.

The truth is, we’re not the only one He loves, ya know. God loves them like crazy, too. They too are image bearers of Christ, (though it may be a greatly distorted image in this season of their life). We may unknowingly be a “them” for someone else. If you can find it in your heart to forgive and genuinely pray for them, it’ll do humanity some good. If you can release that prayer to heaven and leave it there, it’ll do you some good. Sometimes we forget that we really can change the world with prayer. As my late aunt would say, “prayer is the most you can do.” When we release them in prayer, the matter is out of our hands and head, left in the best hands of all. We are free to be, trusting that it’s taken care of by a Righteous Judge.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:44 (NIV)

This song is an oldie but goodie that God used to bind up my wounds and reaffirm truth. I hope it encourages you as much as it has encouraged me!

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:13 (NIV)

©2020 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Sediments of The Heart

I drink of lot of homemade and store bought natural beverages. As many of you know, for optimum taste, appearance and health benefits, it is recommended that they be shaken well, as the product settles naturally. Same for liquid medicines and vitamins.

Products not well shaken display a separation; having a murky, darker pigment at the bottom of the beverage. This is so, even if shaken and only left still for a period of time. What’s heavy sinks to the bottom. I mean, just look at the bottom of a lake!

Hmm. What’s heavy sinks to the bottom. Isn’t that true about the sediments of our heart, too? Not only does what’s heavy (painful, traumatic experiences, spoken and unspoken words and emotions) sink to the bottom, but they also get stuffed down by us way too often. We put them on reserve to address never, because we obliviously direct our focus elsewhere. Then, years pass by and we forget that that “thing” was ever a “thing”, because we’ve got so many other things going on floating above it. Just me? Oh, Lord, I hope not (lol).

Like natural beverages we do not function at our most optimal potential when we don’t allow the Lord to shake things up and let whatever issue float to surface. Stuffing is not a solution for anyone with a goal of freedom, and it’s also not an easy pattern to break – believe me, I know! With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can have healthy self-examinations. We can deal with issues of old…and new, because let’s face it, offence will come (Luke 17:1). But, we must first be willing to humble ourselves and look at it (2 Chronicles 7:14). Not being wise in our own eyes, internally belting, “Not I!” (Proverbs 3:7). Forgiveness and weeping are almost always counterparts in the process too.

Even Jesus had moments of lamentation, and He is the greatest man to have lived on earth!

It’s time for us to start getting to the bottom of things! Maturity welcomes the trigger and stirring that leads us to Christ. May the Holy Spirit shake us well and make us good!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. – III John 1:2 (NKJV)

©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

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

Trusting Doors #trust #faith 

I went to Sprouts Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago. It was all a normal trip, and nothing happened out of the ordinary…until I went to exit and approached the automatic sliding doors. They didn’t open.  I didn’t think much about it initially.  I just accepted the fact that they were having mechanical difficulties on this day, and so I gently pried the doors open, exited, and went on my merry way.

As I drove off in my car, I thought about those doors again.  I wasn’t frustrated, but I recalled that this was actually the second time this week that automatic sliding doors didn’t open as they should.  Though both times I wasn’t making haste enough to run into the doors, I wondered who would have.  I couldn’t shake the thought of how many of us trust mechanical doors to open, almost to a fault.  I thought of how many of us walk into elevators, confidently expecting them to open and close, take us up and down and on to our designated floors.  I thought about how many of us trust creations far more than we trust our faithful Creator.

It is too often that we rely solely on what is seen, when the power of our unseen God is insurmountable.  Though His thoughts and ways are higher than ours, and not always making sense to our finite human minds (Isaiah 55:8), He can be trusted more than anyone or anything!  Hallelujah!  Be Encouraged!  Unlike unreliable doors, God has no difficulty in coming through for us.  He does not malfunction, He does not slip up, and gratefully He never takes a day off.  Hallelujah again!  Thanks to Jesus we can approach God with faith and confidence.  And when we walk thoughtlessly through automatic sliding doors that open with ease, may we be reminded of how similarly, if not more, our trust should be in the God who made them.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
– Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)