The Year of the Lord’s Favor.

Warning:

First, this post is a bit long. Second, this post is me being super vulnerable. At first I fought writing this tooth and nail, but God must want someone to read this. If you are reading this I encourage you to read it through Jesus’ eyes. No judgement. No condemnation. We have all walked through the darkness, but Jesus  has caught us up in His grace. 

I feel it in my heart to make some things known about myself.  I know it will allow me to truly experience freedom, but I pray some one else will take these words to heart and understand that freedom can be found.

This whole semester has been a semester of God just weeding things out my life. I’m not talking small weeds either. Weeds that have gotten tangled in my roots. These weeds were deep and slowly choking the life out of me. It wasn’t pretty. The process left me bare and cold because somehow I had gotten comfortable with these weeds in my life. Going through the process of removal wasn’t beautiful. It was messy, filthy, and vile.

About two years ago, I fell into the trap of pornography and masturbation. My life was a mess. Things began to get chaotic and confusing.  See, I had a relationship with Jesus, but I was having an affair with this sin. I was bound to it. It had my heart in a vice and no matter how many times I asked God to forgive me, swearing to never do it again; I always found myself doing it all over again. 

I entered college with this burden. Having prayer nights but still struggling with this sin. It’s crazy how God still used me in my brokeness. He still gave me words to pray over my friends, and I could always taste the freedom that I could experience if I truly let go of this burden. Soon, I realized that it was time to get real with myself. I was struggling, and God was gently coaxing me out but I was still determined to be dragged down. I finally gathered some courage to tell my closest friends. It was a late night at Raising Cane’s, and with my heart beating fast and sweaty hands; I told them I was struggling with masturbation. I kid you not, in an instant, it was like I was finally able to take a deep breath. I could breathe again. I got the most loving response from them all, and I realized that’s why God has placed them in my life.

I would be lying if I said right then and there I stopped. I didn’t, but I started to see the escape routes that God was giving me. With each passing time I was tempted I began to see those ways more clearly. It wasn’t until the day after Christmas I realized the last chain had dropped from my life. The weed that was clinging for dear life on my heart; God had effectively removed it. It left me crying because it was painful, and I was confronted with my less that perfect-ness.

But God is merciful. He dealt with me so tenderly that night. Loving me like no other could. I had a meeting with my Savior. I was  ready to be rid of my sin for good, and whatever it took I was willing. God didn’t strike me down. He covered me with His grace. I know I still have to deal with the consequences, like the loss of my innocence and some pictures seem like they can’t be erased from a mind. However, God’s grace will still abound.

But that wasn’t all. I also had to face the issues I had with my dad. I was angry at my dad for the things he had done and things I thought he should have done. In my mind I wanted him to hurt as much as he hurt me. I held on to this for years. A few weeks before I came home I was confronted with all the anger I had built up, and I finally told my dad how I felt. Finally, I was able to hear his side of things. Things aren’t perfect now, but I know that I also have to make a conscious effort to mend our relationship.

He also dealt with other things. Moments in my life that had me waking up in the middle of the night in cold sweats. Thoughts that held me back from trying new things. Grudges I had against certain people in my past. He dealt with it all.

Restitution.

I learned this word from Lena. She is the sweetest woman who has invested into me, Oyinda, Megan, and Maddie. She told us that restitution is more than just restoration. Restoration is when whatever was taken is given back and it’s leveled out. However, restitution is when everything is given back, but double portion. Restitution means God wins.  No matter how much was taken God will give it back to me double portion. Every area of my life that the enemy has stolen from will not only be restored, but will be covered in a double blessing.

I cling to that because God didn’t intend for me to go through all of those crappy things, and it’s not like I’m going to stop walking into bad situations either. But we serve a God who makes ALL things new. He turns our ashes into beauty, our mourning into laughing, our shattered innocence into purity.

As  I launch into the new year, I am declaring that 2014 will be my year of double portion. I declare right now that my relationships from here on out will be doubly blessed. My health will be doubly blessed. My finances will be doubly blessed. My family will be doubly blessed. My life will be doubly blessed. God is a God of restitution and I rest in that. He will not only restore, but will pour out a double blessing over me.

So in the last few hours of 2013 let God tend to the garden in your heart. I can’t promise you it won’t hurt. Truthfully, it’s not like I don’t get tempted anymore, but I now see that there is always a way out. Please know that in this process: tears will be shed, confessions will pour out, and some things will sting. But it’s oh so worth it. God wants you to be set free right now. He sent Jesus down here to die for ALL of your sins. The dirty, disgusting things that you do in the dark have not gone unnoticed. He’s saying, “give it to Me, let Me set you free.”

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To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood. 

I also encourage you to read Isaiah 61. Revel in the promises that God has spoken, and know in your heart that He is faithful to complete them.

God sings over me and you. His rhythm is perfected to match every little detail of our lives. He has orchestrated and he directs every note that has to be played out in our lives. He isn’t surprised by all of our mess because His rhythms are matchless. Nothing compares to the song He plays over us. He has composed each of our songs before the day we were born with all the loving kindness He possesses. May our feet continue to dance to the melody that He so tenderly created. May our hands clap to the beat of our life songs. May our lives and voices add lyrics of praise at His majesty. His grace is never forced. It is given freely. Since we have chosen Him and He is ours, He will sing over us unceasingly. A song of peace, freedom, grace, and wisdom. The song He sings over each one of our lives will be the only song that will be a balm to our tattered souls. So let Him carry you, let Him whisk you away along the ebbs and swells of your life song. Because NOTHING can take away the unforced rhythms of His grace.

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Selah. 
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Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Well, I’ve meant to write this post for a while and since Thanksgiving is in a few minutes…it’s perfect!

I just wanted to list some of the things that I’ve just been so thankful for this past year and semester at LSU. I have a bunch but I gave myself a limit of 19; since I’m 19 and all.

19.  Warm, soft, fluffy things.

With the weather getting all cold and stuff; I am more than happy to pull out all of my scarves, socks, hats, and bulky sweaters.

18. Peppermint.

I have this thing for all things peppermint-y. I’m a sucker for peppermint tea, and I put mint in just about anything. Go get some peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks and your world will never be the same!

17. Hot Bubble Baths.

I have definitely taken the luxury of a bath for granted all these years. Since I’ve been in college, and have been completely stripped away from baths; all I want to do when I get home is sit in my bathtub. I know I have some emotional connection to my bathtub, but don’t judge. Some people just ain’t about that college shower life…

16. YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu Plus.

Thank God for these wonderful video players. Now I will never miss an episode of Scandal, I can watch all my Touched by an Angel episodes, and I have the privilege to spend hours watching pointless videos that distract me from the important things in life.

15. My Childhood.

I revel in my childhood memories. The good, the bad, the ugly. I love them all. Moments like hiding books and sugar packets under my pillow or picking my switches from the tree; those days have molded me into who I am today. I would never change a thing.

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14. Musical Movies.

I have this thing for movies that have songs that I can sing along to. Hairspray, Prince of Egypt, Sound of Music, Disney Princess Movies, and Anastasia are a few of my favorites. “these are a few of my favorite things…”  See, like that!

13. Books.

I have a healthy/ unhealthy attachment to books. The healthy attachment is that I love to read, and I tear through so many books it’s ridiculous. The unhealthy attachment is the fact that I will buy 7 more books when I haven’t even finished the last 2 I bought the day before, and if somebody tried to touch or sell my books I would rip them a new one.

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12. Journals.

I pour my heart out when I write in my journal. I appreciate all the journals I have because I am able to see how far that I have come. I love to go back and read my journal from elementary when I had a crush on William Moseley. Those were not easy times, okay… No Judging.

11. LSU.

I go to the greatest school on the planet. All you other schools just need to go sit down somewhere. Say it with me: Geaux Tigers!

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10. Christmas Music.

Listen to: Dave Barnes – Very Merry Christmas. Matt Wertz – Snow Globe. Nat King Cole – you should already know… Boyz ll Men – Christmas Interpretations. Go, click those links, and let your souls be drowned in all the wonderful Christmas music.

9. Hard Times.

As I’m getting older I am starting to really understand why some things can’t always be easy. Going through hard times and sometimes hurting seems to makes it all worth it in the end.

8. Spontaneous Worship.

Worship. I just love it. My soul sings, and I just come alive when I worship. I love when it isn’t planned and it isn’t rigid or stiff. It’s always raw, real, and refreshing. And it ALWAYS, without fail, leaves me breathless. I will spend all of my days worshiping my Creator.

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7. Africa.

Like I posted in Instagram a while ago. “I miss Kenya. I miss the simplicity. I miss the people and their welcoming nature. I miss Manuel, Jeremy, Emmy, Patrick, Grandma, and Annette. I even miss Georgiana! I miss church, and the 5am prayers. Take me back.”

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6. Lakewood Church.

Where would I be without Lakewood in my life? Lakewood will always be the church that God put in my life to be a lifeline to pull me through all the mess I was dealing with. I rededicated my life to Christ, encountered Jesus, and was bathed in the Holy Spirit at Lakewood. I am forever grateful for all that I experienced there.

5. Antioch Community Church: Baton Rouge.

What a community! I am completely blown away at how much I have grown these past few months. I am challenged to live my life radically and truly live out what the Bible says. I am so captivated by God’s presence at Antioch; I can’t help but be thankful for the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in His church.

4. Maddie, Oyinda, and Megan (Cheetah Girls/Double Stuffed Oreo).

I am constantly inspired, encouraged, and challenged by how these girls live so wholeheartedly for what they believe in. They strive to make everything they do pleasing to the Lord. I am thankful for Maddie’s “sugar sweet and intuitive” soul, Oyinda’s “prayer warrior” spirit, and Megan’s “tell it like it is” attitude. God knew what He was doing when He brought us all together.We are force to be reckoned with. Watch out world!

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3. Friendship.

I am the luckiest girl alive to be surrounded by a community of people who I can just do life with. I have the most honest, genuine friendships. God must really love me because He has granted me with friends I know will be in my life for a long, long time.

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2. Family.

I can go on an on about how awesome my family is. We are not average. We are messy and chaotic. Loud and spontaneous. Passionate and supportive. Goofy and silly. We are all of these and so much more, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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1. Jesus.

I think y’all already knew this one was coming…

Jesus. My Savior.My Friend. My Foundation. My Creator. My Hiding Place. My Everything. My soul sings at His goodness. My spirit rejoices at His faithfulness. My feet dance because of the joy that He has bestowed upon me.

I am forever in awe and grateful for the wonderful gift of His grace and love that He so freely pours out over my life.

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Selah. 

Kenya Week 2.

July 7, 2013

Yesterday we hung around the house. Breakfast was bread, jelly, and butter. We had a hair washing part which was awesome because I haven’t washed my hair since Atlanta. I learned how to draw water from a well! After lunch we went to the church to do some intercessory prayer. The church is literally wooden posts with pieces of plastic and tin around it. We have church this morning at 10am.

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July 8, 2013

Church was awesome. It was a workout because we danced  a lot. We got back home and Shannon and I helped make dinner. We had chapati and guacamole. Patrick and Emmy gave me a Kenyan name. Chepchumba. They said by the time I go back home I will know how to cook.  My feet have never been this dirty.

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July 10, 2013

Monday we went to town. I was able to talk to my mom. I also went shopping! The streets were so crowded and dirt was everywhere. Tuesday was our first ministry day. We did house visits. Our first house we went to was of a family and the father has a large tumor on his nose. It was heartbreaking. They all knew the Lord so we prayed for them. We spent the afternoon visiting houses and praying for people. Today we had or first ministry day with Emmy since she had to go to the doctor yesterday. It was a little awkward but I’m beginning to understand that God can show up in any situation. Praying out loud is something I need to be more confident in. I walked Jeremy to school! We also get to spend out afternoons with the kids from his school!

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July 11, 2013

Today, I stayed behind from morning ministry. I helped around the house. I also got to watch Manuel most of the time! Afternoon ministry we went to Jeremy’s school. I sat down in the middle of the field and the just huddled around to talk. I asked them random questions about themselves and their culture, They were hilarious! I taught them some of the Spanish I know because they were shocked I wasn’t fluent in another language besides English. They were curious little souls. They wanted to know all about my family and how it was living in America. I am learning a lot about prayer and praying about others. I am spending so much time reading my Bible. We have so much down time. Grandma is asking God for a white man while I’m trying to sleep!

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July 13, 2013

Yesterday a woman got saved! We also went to another house and the woman told us that we should have brought food. Then her and Emmy got into it. It was an interesting conversation. I got twist, but they aren’t holding. Apparently, my hair is too soft. I need to do something about my mosquito bites! They are all so swollen and they hurt.

About Time!

It’s finally here!

Today is the last day I have to take my antibiotics for strep throat! Strep is no joke, and I am bad at remembering to take those pink horse pills.

My last day of school was yesterday. I can now sit down and actually write without worrying about Precal! That class has been a huge pain in my rear end this whole semester. Math and my brain just don’t mix. Now that all my finals are out of the way, I am more than ready to graduate! And I am walking out of high school with 9 hours of college credit (whoop)!

I’ve come a long way from this!

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My grad party is this Saturday. I’m ready to see all my family and friends. Not to mention eat all the good food! Sunday, I graduate! I’m saving all my tears for then. I don’t want to cry until I know for sure that I am completely done with high school. Which is really hard for me to wrap my mind around. I will never walk the halls of Mayde Creek High School as a student again, ever. It’s definitely bittersweet. Growing up is a daunting task. And I don’t know if I want to run back and yell “Take me back!” or strut off yelling “See ya, suckas.” This is a real issue in my mind. I guess this is the time I gotta put on my big girl panties and keep moving forward. See ya, high school. It’s been lovely.

LSU. I have orientation on the 17th. I know what dorm I’ll be in and my roommate! I’ll be choosing my schedule while I’m there and I can’t wait to show my mom the campus. I hope we get to go to New Orleans. I have been craving some of Willie Mae’s fried chicken for about a year and 3 months and 16 days (well I don’t really know how many days…) But I want me some fried chicken!

Africa. 24 days 17 hours 57 minutes! Excuse me while I go freak out in a corner! I can’t wrap my mind around it all. I am about go to Africa. A whole other continent! I am so not ready. I just found out that we will be sleeping in a tent and that I need to go buy this so-called tent. Tents and I don’t have a good relationship. We don’t even have a relationship! I mean this is “step out of your comfort zone” to the max. I’m ready though. A little freaked out, but ready. I gotta leave my little prima donna attitude at home. So I’m gonna get all my complaining and whining out while I can. Oh, I have to tell y’all about my little excursion to the nature store. It was horrible. I walked in there wide eyed and concerned about all the animals that look too real. I stayed in there for about 1 minute and 14 seconds before I hightailed my behind out of there. I think I’ll stick to Academy and Amazon to buy all the things I need. I have all my things in order. I got my passport, international insurance, yellow fever vaccine and the little yellow book, my malaria pills, and my ticket to Atlanta. Fundraising has gone extremely well! I only need about $500. Looking back I never thought I would be here and it blows my mind at how awesome God is.

Things are moving forward whether I like it or not. I trying to put on a brave face and say I’m ready, but honestly I am a mess. I have to take it one day at a time, and save all my tears for days when I’m really going to need them.

So here’s to new beginnings!

From my journal: So here’s to starting a new journey! Goodbye high school, it’s been grand! College, please be good to me. I don’t need 15 more pounds, I would like to keep me virginity (let’s not be prude. Boys are hot at LSU!  Okay Bayli, mind on Jesus. I’m just letting you know the struggle is real) and I hope to make lifelong friends and live out amazing memories. Geaux Tigers!

The Prom Experience.

These are just pictures from yesterday. It had its ups and downs, but at the end of the day I had fun. 

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In the morning we woke up bright and early and had another garage sale to fundraise.

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After the garage sale the sky opened up and flooded the streets. The lights even went out in the shops while I went to go get my makeup done.

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After I got my makeup done. They did an awesome job and I learned how to do the wing tip. I tried out the red lips and I love it! 

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After I got dressed and stuff. The camera was kinda blurry. Whoops.

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Best friends since 7th grade! This was taken before we got into the car. 

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Try to do a cute girly pose! We almost fell over trying to balance on one heel!

Honestly, I felt prom could have been better. I wish people would have actually danced instead of grind to ever song. However, I had a fun time getting all dressed up and enjoying the last few mementos of high school. Oh, I also loved the chocolate fountain! 🙂