I Have Issues

I have to be honest.

I have issues.

I am a mess of emotions and poor coping skills.

And I know I’m not being melodramatic because I’ve scared myself on multiple occasions with the vast swing of my emotions.

Like I said, I have issues.

Anyway, now that has been established I’ll get to the real reason behind this blog post. I’ve struggled, BIG TIME. I’ve had the hardest time seeing the good in the set backs and the faithfulness of God in it all. Recently, I had to make a huge decision about school and Haiti. I had gotten accepted into an amazing internship that would allow me to experience Haiti and missionary work in a brand new way. I was ready, and dead set on going. I had it all mapped out, and was ready to fundraise my butt off. However, the day after I got accepted I saw I still needed one more class as a prerequisite for the nursing programs I planned on applying to in the fall. And that particular class was offered over the summer, the exact time I planned on being in Haiti. I was at a crossroads, and I had no choice but to sit and…cry my eyes out. Yes, I cried and I cried. I called up some friends talked about it and cried some more. I knew what I had to do but didn’t understand why I was being put in that place. It was tough. My face was a mess of eyeliner and mascara, but I found the strength to let them know I was unable to do the internship.

I was heartbroken, and confused. I didn’t understand what God was doing and didn’t necessarily want to understand what He was doing. I felt like it was too much. My dream and vision of being in Haiti this summer and doing what I know I’m called to do was gone. I wanted to give up everything. I kept wondering why would God give me a heart for this nation, and then basically block me from doing what He’s placed in my heart to do.

This went on for hours and hours. Stayed up all night just journaling and asking why. Finally, after God heard enough of my ranting He gave me His answer. In that gentle way of His; He whispered to my heart that my life is not my own, and never will be. Ummm…Jesus? At first I didn’t know how to take it. Don’t I have some type of say in my life? Silly question, I know! But then I realized that to live fully submitted to God comes with the realization that my life isn’t mine exclusively. It was a simple realization, but an atomic bomb to all those well thought out scenarios of what could have been my picture perfect life.

In that moment, I realized just one of the many costs there are for being fully submitted to God’s will. Your life is not your own. It is God’s to do what He will. It’s a bit frustrating, let me tell ya. It has come with plenty disappoints and soggy pillows. It’s true, I have seen greater things come out of my own plans being trashed and God taking control. But what’s so different about this time? Why am I having such a hard time trusting Him? Is it because I truly felt I was walking in His will and then just got thrown a curve ball? Honestly, I don’t know. And all it does is make my head hurt if I think too much about it.

Somewhere in the silence of my heart I feel Jesus. Like a stubborn flame that can’t be snuffed out; I know there is hope for the future. As the Spirit moves and weaves a greater story I sit and hope for the goodness of the Lord to shine through. It’s in the quietness of my heart where all the crying ceases and the Lord begins downloading truth of His faithfulness into my soul. I am chosen. I am good enough. I have a dream that can’t be discredited. In that secret place I can lay all my issues, disappoints, swinging emotions, broken hearts, journal pages, and soggy pillows at His feet. Jesus gets me. Jesus understands. It’s going to be okay. I’m going to be okay. I might not be in Haiti this summer but it hasn’t stopped Him from cultivating and growing the dream inside my heart. 

My life is not my own, it’s always been His.

Maybe it’s time to start living like it.

With Jesus

That is my car that is currently un-drivable after an accident yesterday

I have got to be honest. These past couple of days have been so trying and exhausting. I haven’t even processed it all. So many things have gone so far south that I sit down and think that this can’t actually be my life. I have questioned God more times than I can count. I’ve lost sight of His promises in the face of all these issues that have decided to sprout up without warning.

However, tonight with Jesus there were no questions, no complaints, just taking the time to sit in His presence. I realized, that all He wanted was for me to just sit and be. Be with Him in our secret place, and let him pour out His love, grace, peace, and mercy. I have been praying/longing for more of Him, and as my longing has been met day by day I can’t help but rejoice in the face of my adversity. The thing that has been trying to drag me down only forced me to lay at the feet of my Savior. To me there is nothing sweeter than that, and I would walk through all of my troubles a hundred times over to just remain at His feet and simply be in His presence.

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.

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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.

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

What Are You?

“What are you, anyway?”

My whole life I’ve been told that I should be a white girl or for a black girl I act “too white.” In a way I’ve been conditioned to just laugh it off and ignore people’s ignorance. But recently a question that has caught my attention is “what are you?”

First of all, the question is degrading. I know the person who asked didn’t mean to make it sound rude, but to me it implied that I was somewhat less than because they didn’t know what category to stick me in. My conditioned response was that I was black, but they wouldn’t take that as an answer. They then started peppering me with questions: “No, you aren’t mixed with something?” “How is your hair that way? Black people hair isn’t like that.” “Why do you talk like a white person?”

At this point I found myself shutting down. These people were relentless. I mean children are dying all over the world and your main concern is if I’m black enough to be black. It’s insane. Anyway, I honestly don’t even remember how the conversation ended but I remembered how it began.

What are you, anyway?

What am I? Well, I am a black young woman. My mother is mixed and my father is black, but that doesn’t mean I’m less black than the next black woman. My hair lays a certain way, but that doesn’t mean that my hair is any better than the black woman with supposedly “bad hair.” I speak well and I even have a hint of a country accent, but that doesn’t mean I’m not black because I “talk white.”

Besides all the things I just listed, I am Bayli. No matter what color I happen to by mixed with; I am human. I am a child of the Most High God. I have special gifts and talents that God has blessed me with to bring glory to Him. I am a successful young adult. I have potential to do great things on this earth. I can make decisions, and I’m wise enough to ask when I don’t understand or when I need counsel. I have hopes, dreams, plans, and I know I will fulfill each one of them by God’s grace.

That is what I am. Who I am. What I have been made to be.

I am not the black girl who talks white. I am not to the black girl mixed with some white. I am neither dark-skinned or light-skinned.  I am no better than the girl who’s fully black and I am no less than the girl who is fully white.

So what am I, really?

I am a young woman named Bayli.

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.