Steady Grace

This year. Oh, this year. I’ve seen and felt things that I’ve never thought possible.

037 311

Looking back, in January I was standing in the aftermath of putting all my dirty laundry out for the world to see. I published “The Year of the Lord’s Favor”  out of obedience. As the new year rolled in, and days transitioned to nights I fought fear and shame. Fear of judgement and condemnation, and a shame that mocked me and told me lies. I fought. I fought hard for peace because I knew my freedom was a promise from God. The response I got from that post was overwhelming. I was completely taken aback by the comments and messages. I felt stronger when I realized I wasn’t alone. I heard Jesus tenderly lifting my eyes up to truly see His grace, and let it flow about me without hindrance. I have never felt such peace, such love.

225 307

Soon after, I was struggling. I had left LSU, and I wasn’t in school. I was taking a night CNA class that I had to drive over an hour to get to every night. I was in a dark place. I felt that God had stopped talking to me. After all I had done for Him; He decided He was going to leave me where I was. I was mad at God. Mad that things weren’t going my way and hadn’t worked out like I had planned. But in that dark place He was all I had. I found worship as an escape. I worshiped and ranted. It looks so funny when I type it out, but I ranted, I cried, I threw tantrums only to go back to worshiping the One who had all the answers. Throughout it all, Jesus knew my heart. He knew I was hurting, broken, and confused. I discovered that my secret place with Him was my haven. My safe place to lay my head after a rough day of battling insecurity. His presence was the balm my soul needed.

034

Haiti. My life has not been the same. Mere words can’t express the complete heart change that happened in that country. The intense longing to just sit and be in a moment has never been so real until that one day in a Haitian mountain village. The enemy fought me like no other before both trips. The inner struggle to completely put my  faith in the Lord seemed like an insurmountable task. I felt that the Lord was teasing me somehow because EVERY TIME I drowned in doubt. However, He continued to pour out His grace and His abundance. I experienced miracles, and still get a little giddy when I realize all that He did to get me to Haiti. Oh, Haiti, My heart aches to be there. I have dreams of being back. It makes me laugh because I know God’s just fanning the flame. Who knows, maybe I’ll move there (with momma’s permission, of course).

 129 389

After Haiti, I began my transition back into normal life. I was enrolled back into school, and involved in the church like never before. My heart was, and still is to serve my church. But in the middle of the semester I was running on empty. I was desperate for more of Jesus. Even though I felt like I was at church all the time, I was lacking somehow. That’s when He called me into my season of healing and rest. Rest sounded so good, but it was so complicated. I would find myself still falling into the same pattern of filling up my time. Filling it with church things, but neglecting my time with Jesus. It took a while, and I was finally hit with the truth that I was running from my healing. I wasn’t ready to face my issues and work things out. I wasn’t ready to have my wounds cleaned because I knew that involved removing my makeshift bandage. One woman put it to me this way; she told me I was on the operating table, and as Jesus came in to sew me up I would flail. I would kick, scream, and fight while Jesus would whisper rest. It wasn’t until I heard and saw what this woman was saying to fully grasp that I was resisting my healing. Something that I had prayed for throughout the year. 

 022 1013773_10203402714131659_859141897_n

So began my healing process. There isn’t much to say except that it was brutal. It hurt, and I was completely out of my comfort zone. I felt like I was exposed and vulnerable. The months of my healing process had to be my weakest moments.God led me to share my testimony many times, which would bring back old fears of rejection. I found myself back in my secret place. While the Lord gently operated I saw the beauty being brought forth from my ashes. I wrote a lot, and burned a lot. I had to have a physical representation of what was no longer allowed to hold me hostage. I refused to be a victim and walk in entitlement. I was striped of my pride, and found myself on my knees more times than I can count.

072 040

Now here I am today. A few weeks out of my healing process. Not perfect, but whole. I have found such peace. A sweet rest that accompanies me everywhere I go. I have found a refuge so safe that I haven’t gone a day without feeling protected. I have tasted and seen of His goodness. I’m being called deeper and deeper into His endless love. I found my identity and worth in Him, and I find myself walking in my brand new confidence with shaky legs, but I walk. I press on, and I keep my gazed fixed on His face because I know I’m called for more.

IMG_1828

you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. – Isaiah 62:2-3

Unexpected

The day I left for Haiti was rough.

I left my phone at the Houston airport, I had an 10 hour layover in MIA, once in Haiti I didn’t have any cash to pay the new tourist fee, and then had to be interrogated by the customs people because I didn’t know the address of where I was staying. By the time I walked out of the airport and under the blazing Haitian sun I was done. I was ready to walk back into the airport and catch the next plane home. I was sleep deprived, near tears, and had the worst attitude.

However, all the crazy stuff that happened wasn’t a surprise to God.

There was a reason I left my phone. The whole week leading up to Haiti I knew I needed to rest. I was running around everywhere. I was constantly on my phone, but then I realized that not having my phone forced me to rest. My whole time in Haiti I wasn’t distracted by my phone and I was able to use the down time I had to rest and actually read a book! I have no profound revelation truth for spending the night in the airport except that I had no money to spend on a hotel. But I learned my lesson, and I will avoid sleeping in the airport in the future. I pulled an all-nighter, and spent most of my time laying on the floor eating cheez-its and watched movies I had on my computer. Never again. By the time I got on the plane to Port-Au-Prince I was exhausted. I don’t even remember the plane ride. When we unloaded at the airport I saw they were separating Haitians from non-Haitians. I read the signs and saw that I had to pay $10 to enter the country. That was when I realized I had traveled to a foreign country without any cash! I was silently freaking out, practically begging God to work a miracle. As always, He did and a woman who was standing in front of me paid for me without any prompting from me. I was in shock, and thought that it would be smooth sailing after that incident. But my bubble was popped when I realized the fake address I put on the immigration wasn’t going to fly. I didn’t have my phone so I didn’t have the real address to the I’mMe house. They made me sit in a room and asked me all sorts of questions. Where is my mom? Does your mom know you are here? What about your dad? Why did you travel alone? Why don’t you have an address? For thirty minutes I had to answer questions. I was on the brink of tears. I was tired, thirsty, and hot. Finally, at my wit’s end I realized I had my laptop! The address was in one of the documents in my computer. I gave then the address and basically ran out of the stifling room. The whole walk to baggage claim I forced myself to keep the tears at bay. It was not the time to break down. I was in Haiti after all, and I knew in a few minutes I would be reunited with my I’mMe family.

I made it to the house, and was greeted with the biggest hugs and smiling faces. I got to meet all the newest additions to the family, and fell in love with them. I was so happy to be at the house that I forgot that I had an almost melt down. After settling in I got to meet the team who was already there. They were the sweetest and welcomed me into their group with ease. It wasn’t until later that night after connecting some info together that I realized that the team I thought I would be with all week would actually be leaving the next day, and I was staying at the house with no team. I remember going into the room and throwing myself on the bed asking God what is He doing aka having a tantrum. I also  felt bad because I didn’t want to be a burden to Lauren and Patrick, who were  living at the house and taking care of all the kids.

Nothing was going how I expected it to go. I didn’t understand why God had me there and why was I back so soon. I still don’t understand all the why’s, but I know that my time in Haiti was blessed.

Most of the week I stayed at the house helping out with the children. I got to learn the story of each child, and my heart broke for each one. There was never a dull moment. Smiles and laughter were abundant. I was flooded with joy just holding a tiny hand, and running around the house chasing squealing children. I have never seen so many melted crayons on the driveway, or played an intense game of musical chairs until I was in Haiti. I had my fill of pomegranates off the pomegranate tree. My soul was at peace, and I was rested physically and emotionally. I got to take naps when the kids had nap time. I had quiet time with the Lord in my favorite place in the house (the porch, the rain, and the rocking chair). I got to hear Lauren’s and Patrick’s hearts, and watch them fight and love for the children they were taking care of. It was definitely a privilege to be able to see how things run when there isn’t a team there, and at the end of the week I was more than grateful that I ended up being there without a team for a few days.

032 033 031 030 052046

Leaving Haiti always leaves me in tears. It’s hard to leave the place where your soul finds peace. The plane ride home I was blessed to sit by a man who was talkative. He was Haitian, and white. He was born and raised in Haiti, and owned a shipping company. He met his wife in Haiti, and raised his family there. After the earthquake he moved his family to Miami and he now flies from Haiti to Miami every 3 days. He told me, “My business is in Haiti, but my heart is Miami.” The conversation was such a blessing because I was a little emotional leaving Haiti. He playfully asked me about the boy I was leaving behind, after I assured him is wasn’t a boy he got really serious. He looked me in the eye and said, “you have a spiritual connection with my country.” In that moment I was like, yeah you could call it that, but as he kept explaining I knew the Lord had me sit next to this man for a reason. Somehow, I needed the reassurance that I wasn’t feeling how I was feeling for nothing. My heart wasn’t breaking for the children and this country “just because”, and that Haiti wasn’t just another stop in long list of countries I wanted to visit.

As I said before, I don’t know why Haiti has invaded my life and settled in my soul. The way this trip played out was completely unexpected, but it was everything that I needed.

 My story about Haiti has only just begun.

imme.org

*A special thanks to my supporters to making all of this possible. May the Lord continue to bless each and every one of you.

Worn.

A few days ago I was a complete mess.

The day started off well, I guess. I slept in and made myself some breakfast. Things were normal. But they weren’t. I was oblivious to the trap the enemy had set up for my day. Throughout the day I was being plagued with insecurity. Now this is something that I thought I had handled, but these thoughts were relentless. I was being broken down bit by bit and just allowed the enemy to feed me lies. It seemed like all throughout that  day my defense was just being chipped away, and I sat back and watched it happen.

 I didn’t breakdown until I got some alone time in my car, and I just let God have it. The weather was awful, my car was acting up, and I was just tired of trying to find the good in every bad situation. I was angry, hurt, and was tired of fighting. I basically told God, “Look, I feel like I’m walking on egg shells with you because I’m afraid You’re going to take something else away from me. I don’t know what is happening in my life, and I don’t like it. I tired of fighting the enemy and I tired of fighting You trying to figure out how You plan on using me here. I’m tired of trying to force clarity and this huge understanding when I read my Bible when I know I’m not getting anything out of it. This can not be the rest of my life. I’m tired of disappointing You and everyone else.”

At this point I had convinced myself that, that day was a bad day for Bayli the Christian. I was fed up with God, and I didn’t understand and didn’t want to understand what He was doing in my life. I had almost given up. Almost.

That night I got home and text my friends just telling them exactly how I felt, and told them not to lecture me because I didn’t want to hear it. I told them just to pray. I knew I needed prayer because I knew God would not let me go to sleep with an angry heart and I was preparing myself to stay up all night and hash it out with Him.

And boy did He kept me up. I left my Bible in the car, but my journal was my release that night. I wrote pages of the struggle that was going on in my spirit. If someone were to read them they would probably recommend me to a mental institution. Literally, one page is filled with a rant about how I’m tired of trying to be hopeful and basically wanting to give up to the next page being filled with all that God has done for me. Ultimately, I got the peace I was searching for when I stopped writing and begged God for rest. Finally, my spirit was settled and I fell into a restful sleep.

The next morning, I got my Bible and knew I had to give my quiet time another shot. First, I was just flipping through my Bible admiring my highlighted pages, and my little drawings. But God got tired of my foolishness because He led me to Isaiah 41:9-10&13-16 real quick.

9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its furthest corners I called you. I said, “You are my servant;’ I have chosen you and have not reject you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you, Do not be afraid O worm Jacob, O little Israel. for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. “See I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel. 

In that verse I got a clear understanding that I didn’t need to fight any longer. God was fighting for me and I was basically punching at the air getting absolutely no where fast. The enemy had spent so much time trying so hard to break me down that day and night. It was one of the realist struggles I have ever experienced, but God was constant and faithful through it all. The next morning I wrote this in my journal:

Isaiah 41. What a beautiful verses for my tattered and worn soul. God, I don’t know what was happening last night, but your grace abounded even then. Thank You for Your unfailing love. For the words You continue to wash over me. You cover me and protect me. YOU LOVE ME! You have not and will not let me go EVER. You have set me apart and have called me to the nations. You are the one who given me strength to fight the good fight of faith. I will not give up because You are at my side. Bow down, Devil! 

A song that basically sums up how I felt is Worn by Tenth Avenue North. Check it out here.

When God Provides.

Yesterday.

I have plenty of words and phrases,but I don’t know how I’m going to put it all together so you can get the full impact of what God did yesterday.

I think I’ll just jump into what happened.

After Pastor Jake taught we had a response time where anyone can go and receive prayer. In the middle of response time Pastor Jake got back on stage and said that anybody who needs peace just raise your hand. Now, I thought I had all the peace in the world but the Lord thought other wise and next thing I know my hand is in the air. Pastor Jake continued talking and the only thing I comprehended out of his mouth was financial peace. Who knew that those two words could open up a floodgate of tears? Well they did, and I realized that for this whole semester in the back of my mind I’ve been constantly worried about tuition. As next semester is coming up they released my next fee bill. I haven’t even looked at it in fear that I’ll go through what I with through at the beginning of the semester. And no matter how many times I pep talk myself; that darn financial burden leaves me cowering in a corner.

As I kept praying and crying I felt God’s peace just wash over me. I continued to pray for financial breakthrough for my family and for next semester. He even gave me a promise that I will never lack for all the days of my life. At the end of service I had God’s peace in my heart and was finally able to wipe my tears. In my head I literally said “Thanks God. That was good. I finally got it off my chest.” Not knowing that God had more up his sleeve.

I was packing up and scrubbing my face trying to make my eye make up look presentable again when a man tapped me on the shoulder. He took my hand a placed a bill in it.  Cue the waterworks! I was a mess hugging and thanking this stranger. He hugged me and told me that God has heard my prayer. He walked away leaving me with the money in my hand, and my eye makeup smeared all over my face again. Then I just bolted. Don’t ask, but I felt like I needed to fall apart somewhere. Not in a bad way, but as in did-God-just-do-what-I thought-he-did kind of way. Oyinda followed me to the restroom and I told her everything that happened between in and our of tear bouts. I was still in shock and completely just in awe.

I didn’t open the bill up until I was in the car, and this man gave me $100!  At this, tears began to swell AGAIN. I promise I’m not this weepy, but God kept reducing me to tears yesterday morning.

ALSO, get this. I have never seen this man in my life. I go to that church every Sunday, and I am even on the greet team. I saw him walk in and sit in the corner by himself and he didn’t really engage in conversation with anyone. And then right after service I watched him as he walked out of the door without talking to anyone either. It didn’t really connect in my mind until later, but I am fully convinced that man was sent from God just to confirm to me that he heard my prayer. I’ve debated if he was an angel or just some random man visiting Antioch. But you know what, I think he’s an angel because that’s what God does and I fully believe they walk among us.

“Oh Jesus” was literally the only thing I could say on the ride back to campus. I am so grateful that God would do that just for me. And it just came out of no where! Jesus answered my prayer, and moved mountains just to remind me that he heard my prayer. No emoji can show all the emotions I am feeling now. God is so faithful. He will never leave or forsake us. He hears our prayers and He knows each and every one of our needs!

Philippians 4:19

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Can I get an “Amen?”

Fried Chicken and Waffles.

Community.

This is something that I have literally been thrust into the last few months here at LSU, and it has been absolutely wonderful. And to think it all started with chicken and waffles.

My prayer before stepping on LSU’s campus was that I would find a church home quickly, and meet people who were truly passionate about God. I told myself I refused to lose sight of why God had me at LSU. I was researching churches, stalking church Instagrams, and asking people about the churches they had attended while going to LSU. I was a little nervous because I knew that I would have to step out of my comfort zone I had created in Lakewood. My second week on campus I saw on Instagram flyer for free chicken and waffles; and y’all already know I was there with bells on! This is when the world-wind began. I talked to one girl who said she would give me a ride, met the praise and worship leader who just poured out his passion for music, and then ended up meeting the college pastor who was so excited to just welcome everyone in. I was absolutely blown away by everyone’s hearts and I felt so free just to tell them what I was looking for in a church. Nothing has been the same since that night. I have now found a church and I am just so grateful for God’s amazing way of answering prayers.

My church home in Baton Rouge is called Antioch Community Church. Antioch is so completely different from Lakewood, but somehow they are similar. And it’s only because the Spirit of God resides in both. After my first service at Antioch I knew I was there to stay because I felt the same way I felt when I was at Lakewood. The difference in numbers between the churches means nothing when you know that the Lord is moving in both. It’s funny; when I was there I knew for sure God is doing something at Antioch, and I knew I had to be apart of it.

Life-group. Oh man, life-group. I have so many words to say and to type but nothing can quite explain the beauty of the way God has used life-group to impact my life. I have felt so loved and cared for by these people it’s insane. I’m like smothered in love, but in a good way. The hearts and passion for Jesus the people in my life-group have inspired me. I knew that it was where I needed to be when I boo-hoo cried in front of all of them. I was horribly embarrassed, but God used them to show me that He hears my prayers and I’m not alone at LSU. Each and every one of them have become my dearest friends. I have found freedom in this community.

I also have to just give y’all a glimpse of how God is moving on this campus.

Last night, after a long night of studying (not really); my friends and I went out to eat and just hang out. At 1am, we were just talking and sharing about our churches back home and just things that God has done in our lives. And without any warning, no special invitation, the Holy Spirit showed up. We just got into this atmosphere of prayer. We prayed for the unsaved people in my dorm, for our families, for our anxieties, for our church, for more diversity in our church, and just for God to do some radical stuff on LSU’s campus. After the prayer we were just in shock, and couldn’t believe what happened. Those prayers didn’t come from us. It was literally the Holy Spirit speaking through us all. By that time it was 2am and we were absolutely pumped and didn’t want to part ways.

This is what I jotted down after I slipped into my dorm at 2am:

October 15, 2013

Tonight was so powerful! The Lord is moving. The fact that we prayed to 2 am just sharing about God and church. And THAT PRAYER! God is shaking up some stuff and stirring the hearts of His servants. We have seen the glory of God and we are not ashamed to proclaim His name! This community has invested so much into me. I feel so blessed and loved by everyone. Accepted. There is a freedom here that is also at Lakewood, that just draws you in. I see how God is moving. The church is bursting at its seams. Hearts are on fire and ready to learn more about Jesus. The hunger for You is so prevalent and real.

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.

DSCN0111

372

IMG_0130

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.

IMG_9134

DSCN0212

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!

IMG_1318 254

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!

IMG_1955

381

IMG_9229

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.