Awakening Love

As I lay face up on the massage table, my personable and talkative masseuse chatted away about life, love and relationships. She was comfortable, giddy, and in need of conversation. Most of her clients had canceled for the day due to the weather and cabin fever was becoming.

After ranting for some time, she paused and must have realized that she’d shared so much about her and had gathered very little about me. I’m mostly okay with that.

I knew it was coming; it always does. It was my turn to share something of the subject. She asked, “So, do you have a husband or are you married?” Not sure what the difference was, but I felt something like the Samaritan woman at the well. Just kidding. Like a broken record on repeat, I casually responded, “no, not yet”. This seemed to thrust her towards the next question, “Well, do you have a boyfriend?” I casually responded again with a “no, not yet”. We both chuckled. I’ve done this many times before.

I asked her how she met her boyfriend and she embarrassingly shared how she bumped into him randomly at a store. I want to say it was Home Depot. They shared the aisle and she thought he was cute, so she asked for his input on 2 products she was trying to decide between. Smart girl. That was the beginning. A cute, and organic beginning.

I told her (and discovered simultaneously) that that is my fear. Though I say I would love for a romantic relationship to happen organically, it actually happening or almost happening frightens me. I get so awkward. I told her, I go into stores, see guys looking at me and think to myself…”please don’t look at me, I’m just here for celery.” I need to get out of my own way, but I just don’t know how to. This “leave me alone” sticker must be glued on. Anybody have some Goo Gone? Excuse me while I run to Home Depot, ha!

Maybe that’s an odd issue, and some would judge that it is an issue at all. Not wanting to be approached or addressed by attractive men?! Ridiculous? Maybe. I mean, I feel beautiful inside and out. But hear me out. I realized that fear of being approached was actually masked by this fear…

In my past romantic relationships, I have allowed men to lead me astray from my first love (God); we were unequally yoked. If there was a book about the history of me, you would see a trend of me choosing wolves in sheep’s clothing and constantly being preyed upon and deceived. Ugh. Over it.

He goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. – John 10:4‭b-‬5 (NIV)

Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go… – Song of Songs 3:4a (NIV)

You have no idea what a safe exhale of relief that second scripture is for me. It is true of my First Love, and a hopeful testimony of my second. Inserts heart eyes emoji.

Okay, that’s it. Instead of being continually anxious about this whole meeting my heart’s desire thing, I need to just address it in prayer right now. If that’s you too, then let us pray.

Lord, forgive me for being fearful. Help me to trust the authenticity of my relationship with you, check for the fruit of your spirit in others, and heed Your God-given discernment. I know that fear and love cannot live together, so I kick fear out and welcome love in Your timing. Continue to prepare me to be the woman you have destined me to be on earth as it is in heaven, bringing glory to Your great name. May I be a sheep that heeds Your voice only; undistracted by the calls of a stranger. May Thy kingdom come, and Your will be done. In the name of Yeshua, my Savior. Amen.

That’s it. That’s all.

©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

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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

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

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)

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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.

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

 

Hate & Blessings: A Reminder to The Body of Christ #Beatitudes

As representatives of Christ, any and everyone should clearly recognize who we are and Who we represent by the fruit that we produce. As of late, I feel such a burden to encourage the body of Christ to increase their level of integrity.  So, I’m blasting my imaginary megaphone and shouting loud and clear…”COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE YE SEPARATE!” (See 2 Corinthians 6:17).

stay holyAre you telling a little white lie?
Not letting the cashier know he/she overcharged you?
Ordering water, but filling your cup up with soda?
California rollin’ through the stop sign?
Illegitimately parking in handicap for just a few minutes?
Leaving tags on purchased clothing, wearing them, and returning them?

CUT THAT OUT!

These are just a few examples of spirit-grieving acts that lack integrity. These may seem small, but as long as you’re dishonest in little, you will be dishonest with much (See Luke 16:10).  If you relate, I encourage you to repent and ask the Holy Spirit to help you cut this out.  Ask God to purge you and for His Spirit to fill you.  We already know that sin pays in death, so don’t take the job!  Our brother, Paul, has clearly felt our pain in this area.  He said…

14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are
spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t doit. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

help

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
– Romans 7:14-24

You better believe that the world is watching, and more importantly, our Heavenly Father is watching.  As long as we’re bound, we’re incapacitated; unable to properly strengthen the body and help them get free from their sins that once enslaved us.

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. – Hebrews 10:26 (NLT)

Allow me to remind you of what the Lord hates…

Proverbs6-16-19

Now let me remind you of the true definition of blessed…

beatitudes

There’s a huge misconception in the world, and even in the body of Christ of what it means to be BLESSED.  Do not be deceived! Following Christ is not your ticket to wealth, prosperity and instant gratification.  If that’s what you’re after, you ought to follow Satan (or maybe you are unknowingly).  He’ll give it to you now, as a down payment for hell later. Following Christ is your ticket to Heaven. We endure now, and prosper in eternity later.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Lord does give material gifts, but from my personal experience, they start flowing once they don’t matter (ha!).  The world oohs, ahhs and huffs and puffs in jealousy when they see your gifts, while all along in your heart, you’re like “pssh…this?”.  God loves giving to these kind; they’re not discontent and adulterous lusting for more.

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.
– Philippians 3:18 (NLT)