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

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

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.

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)

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

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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 ☺