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

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

CARPE DIEM. #Mothers #Daughters

What the heck?! I don’t know what just came over me.  I just went to say goodbye to mom before she departs for a short business trip and I felt my eyes well up.  I’m so sad.  I miss her already.  I have really gotten used to spending time with her.  This precious, invaluable time.  She’s only gone for a bit, but I guess I’m just thinking about the near future.  Geesh.

move-forwardI’ll never forget the vision that I had when living on the East Coast.  Without going into too much detail I will just say that in it, my mom needed me and the Lord gave me an option to stay or go.  As usual, I said yes to God’s proposal and easier said than done, I moved back.  Let me tell you, moving forward mentally is way harder than moving forward physically.  Especially when your physical move is literally back! Haha.  It’s like, really Lord?  I think so often we forget that we’re spiritual beings having natural experiences and that in actuality, none of the things that the world says are valuable mean much of anything to the Lord.  He delights in our obedience and lavishes in our love.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)

So many people want to do what makes sense when in reality a lot of our blessings in obedience require us to take leaps and do things that don’t make sense and possibly make us look a little crazy at times.  People want to be and do what they think is great.  Instead of loving their neighbors, they’re coveting after their neighbors.  People want to be or do what looks and sounds good.  Instead of respecting a person, they’re respecting a title.  But we need to forget about those worldly things that don’t matter start finally chasing, or re-chasing those eternal things of true substance.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. – Colossians 3:1-2 (AMP)

be yourselfWe have to deepen our relationship with the Lord so that we can find our true identities through Him.  So that we’ll know who we are and in turn how to be.  So that when all in this world is stripped away, ha…not our identity.  I’m so sick of seeing a whole bunch of “turn up” copycats *rolls eyes*…have a seat already!

But yes, I was going to talk about my relationship with my mom…

Mother/Daughter relationships are so beautifully intricate.  So delicate like lace or something.  They go through ups and downs in milliseconds.  There’s battles between respect and assertion and assist and diversion.  So complex.  Figuratively speaking, I think the Lord definitely hand washes them cold and hangs them carefully to dry.

motherhood

Since my move back to the West Coast, I’ve really enjoyed the growth and transformation I’ve experienced in my relationship with my entire family, but my mother especially.  I believe every Mother/Daughter relationship suddenly hits this “Freaky Friday” growth point  where the daughter, now a mature, adult woman with her own life experiences, comes to this realization that her mom, who she for decades was thought of as this flawless, invincible superhero, is in actuality not *gasp*, in fact, she is just like her daughter who has become just like her mother, a mature, adult woman with her own life experiences.  This place of truth does something great (and rightfully so) and God does something greater as the relationship accepts and adapts to it accordingly.  We love and respect each other way more these days.  It’s so refreshing for me to see my superhero mom without her cape quoting Tamar Braxton saying things like, “You tried it!” and “Getcho life!” haha…oh goodness.  She’s truly my best friend.  I can’t wait to bless her with early retirement and a trip to Italy.

heartbeat

The other night I hugged her and rested on her chest for a good while; because I could.  When I did, I heard and felt her heartbeat, and it was like hearing an old, favorite song.  At that very moment a tear fell and I thanked God that my mom was alive and that I was too.  That we were here for this and the best is yet to come.  Now that, my friends is what I call Carpe diem.