Things Every Teen Should Think About Before Dating

It was a hot, muggy night in South Georgia. My heart was pounding out of my chest as my mom chauffeured me over to my crush’s house in her Nissan Murano. At 14 years old, I was about to embark on my first date—Mellow Mushroom and a movie. I picked up the cute, brunette girl and we cruised over to the dinner location. I was trying to play it cool even though being smooth is not necessarily in my skill set. We set a time for my mom to pick us up and then boom, it was just me and her. We sat down in a booth while I ordered a sprite and she ordered a sweet tea. Everything was going well for the first 5 minutes. The drinks arrived and like any normal human, I unwrapped my straw and put it in my drink. One piece of advice I had been given by friends beforehand was to make solid eye contact—so I did, to my chagrin. Instead of looking for the straw in the drink, I gazed into her dark brown eyes while attempting to partake of my drink. All of sudden, I felt a lot of liquid hit my pants. Sure enough, I spilled my drink in my lap. That was the coronation of many hiccups I would have over the long haul in my dating life.

The truth is that dating is difficult, and you will make mistakes, but there is a way to minimize the damage and maximize what God can teach you through it. This blog is specifically geared towards teenage girls, but it’s applicable to all teenagers. Girls, I’d like to talk about how you can avoid those dating hiccups (ones much more than just your date being a goober!) and find true love in its appropriate timing. 

Que the appropriate timing. Finding love is natural because God has hardwired us for relational intimacy. God gave marriage as a gift to man and woman and it should be pursued, but it shouldn’t be rushed. Our culture puts a lot of pressure on finding meaning through a partner, but you need to know that singleness is valuable. In fact, it’s wise when you’re young. There’s nothing wrong with waiting and choosing to allow that to blossom later in life. It may just save you some heartbreak and regret. However, if you’re going to date, here’s some things to consider. 

As a youth pastor, I talk a lot about social media, not because I particularly enjoy it, but because I see the danger it poses to students.  Likes have become everything in our culture and social media exposure is king. Often, I see middle and high school girls (guys too) derive their worth from peer approval. This mentality drifts into dating. Girls want guys to approve them and before long, their worth is wrapped up in a boy’s opinion. What happens if a boy changes his mind or says something hurtful? Dejection. Tears. I sympathize because I’ve most certainly been on the receiving end of a break-up. However, a lot of pain could have been avoided by one foundational thought. God determines my worth, no one else. Before you date, you need to have a healthy relationship with the Lord. You need to come to terms with the fact that you are infinitely valuable, regardless of what anyone else says about you. This can’t be overstated. 

To be honest, some of you will have a leg up because your dad has been a healthy role model in discerning what qualities you should look for in a man. You have someone you can look up to and respect. For those that don’t have that father figure, you can certainly surround yourself with godly men who can point you in the right direction. 

Another factor in determining who and when you should date is your parents. Like it or not, they are your spiritual authority and you’re called to submit. I can hear audible groans after that last sentence, but reason with me for a minute. They weren’t born yesterday. They’ve accumulated years of knowledge under their belt and could be a very helpful guide. Also, don’t forget about that they have your best interest at heart. If they say, you’re not allowed to date until you leave their house, then so be it. If they tell you that you’re not allowed to date a particular boy, then that’s the final word. You have to trust them. 

Now, let’s say that you’re in a position to date. Don’t let the Justin Bieber swoosh or skinny v neck entrance you. Attraction is important, but godliness is the most important quality. Let me be crystal clear… church attendance does not equal godliness. You need a guy who really loves Jesus and is committed to the church. Those guys are going to be the ones who treat you well and respect you. Another way to say it is don’t lower your standards. Granted, if your standards are that he must quote you the entire Old Testament, well, you might be single for a long time. However, don’t settle just because he’s the first guy that approaches you. You’re allowed to say no. If you’re not interested, that’s okay, just gently let him know.

Next, take it sloooooooooow. You aren’t going to the altar next week. If he’s trying to kiss you on the first date, you have my permission to karate chop him in the throat and run away. The best relationships are grounded in strong friendship. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be exclusively friends with him first, but it should mean that you’re going 15 mph even when the speed limit is 30. 

It’s also important to accept the fact that you have blind spots. Other people see things that you may not be aware of. Just because he looks like a 15 year old version of Orlando Bloom doesn’t mean that he’s incapable of character flaws. When your family or friends bring this to your attention, be quick to listen instead of dismiss. They might be seeing something that you aren’t privy to.

My last piece of advice is… drum roll please… don’t check your friends at the door. Whenever a new “boo thang” enters the picture, it can be natural to do that. Your friends are left bitter and flabbergasted when you drop them for someone that you’ve known for two seconds. Lean into their friendship. If things do work out with the guy, date in the context of community. Make sure you’re as visible as possible and invite accountability into your relationship. I promise you won’t regret it.  

Some of you have made mistakes in the past. Realize that there is no sin that is unspoken for at the cross. God’s grace is unimaginably deep. It can work to heal the pain of the past as well as safeguard your future. 

Miss Piggly Wiggly

I genuinely have laughed so hard writing this blog and honestly forgot that this even happened, but for whatever reason it came to mind a few weeks ago. Although it’s a serious topic, I’m grateful I can look back and laugh.

I think we’ve all at one time or another experienced unkind words, gossip, and ridicule. I was homeschooled, so I was spared a good amount of the ridicule that students face in school. However, having a father in politics certainly made up for the unkind words I may not have experienced from my time in middle/high school. I think by this point most people know my father has thick skin. You really can’t upset him by ridiculing him, so instead, people resort to criticizing or ridiculing my family. It’s not okay and it’s not right, but it’s the reality.

For whatever reason, our current culture seems to believe that social media is a free for all. You can say what you want, because you’re looking at a keyboard, not a person. Social media is a convenient portal between our honest, raw, and sometimes terrible thoughts and the reality of humans. It’s very easy to type up hurtful words when you don’t have to see the direct impact they have on real, living and breathing people.

I remember a couple years back I stumbled upon a Facebook feed of comments. It began with talking about my dad and then somehow ended up talking about me. Now, I had no idea who these people were. So, I’m not really sure how I found this feed, but I saw it (and remembered it) nonetheless.

There were several comments and said things like-

“Hasn’t she competed at Miss Alabama like 5 times? Shouldn’t she be Miss America by now?”

“She’s had every title possible… Miss Gulf Coast, Miss Hoover, Miss Leeds, Miss Piggly Wiggly….”

LOL.

Now, thankfully I have a great instinct for comedy and I think this is ridiculously hilarious. With that being said, it’s clear these folks don’t know me because if they did they would understand “Miss Publix” is a much more fitting title considering I’m there about five and a half times a week. I love me some Publix. But, I digress.

Now, 3-4 years ago I wouldn’t have thought this was funny. It would have ripped me apart to see grown adults feel it was OK or appropriate to ridicule someone they had never met. I’m incredibly proud of my accomplishments in pageants even though I was not Miss America and I did not win Miss Alabama (Although I did make top 12 😉 ). I’m proud of myself and any other woman who has the guts to step on a stage and be vulnerable. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and I doubt people would ridicule if they understood the amount of hours and dedication it takes to prepare for something like that.

Although several years ago these kinds of comments would have deeply hurt me, I now understand. I get why people write the unkind things they do. Often times, it has more to do with them than it does with you.

The truth is, a lot of people in this world are hurting. They are experiencing loss, grief, sadness, depression, anxiety, and worry. We’ve all experienced at least one of those things in our lifetime and I think we could agree we aren’t necessarily the best versions of ourselves when we have those emotions brewing. I know I’ve certainly not been the best Bailey to the people around me when I’ve experienced sad or stressful seasons. (Sorry fam)

There are some people out there who are just mean and they’ll be that way until the good Lord softens their heart. However, there are also people out there who are just hurting. I can look back and laugh about those comments now. I realize they probably didn’t actually have anything to do with me, but stemmed from something else.

When people make fun or hurt us, our natural first response is to try to hurt them in return in order to make them feel what we feel. But maybe we should first try to consider, what are they feeling? Why are they lashing out like this?

Now, words can hurt, there is no doubt about it. But, I think unkind words can be more easily be overcome when we realize what they are stemming from. We can then start to dissociate those words from ourselves and realize they are more about the person that said them and what they are going through. Often times, insults are a reflection of that person’s internal battle.

In my life, I’m currently in the process of learning to see past gossip and mean words and in turn, feel empathy for that individual. I’m not perfect and I’ve certainly said some unkind things in my life. I hope those people have had grace with me. And, I hope I can extend the favor of giving grace when people say unkind things about me.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @BaileyKennon.

An Open Letter to the Girl Starting Back to School

Hello Lovely Lady,

I wrote this blog about 2 years ago, but for some reason the Lord sort of put it on my heart. I thought about just re-posting, but instead I wanted to come back and edit/add some things. The older you get, the more you learn. I know just in the last couple years- I’ve grown and learned more than I thought I could! I want you to know how loved and valued you are because as the next few years unfold you will go through many different seasons of life. Some good, some bad, some exciting, and some terrifying. And that’s ok, it’s all apart of life. However, I’m going to share with you some things people shared with me when I was younger as well as things I’ve learned in these short 24 years.

  1. Middle school and high school don’t last forever!

In the moment, some things seem so important. Everything seems finite. Who you go to prom with, what you wear the first day of school, the drama of middle/high school romance- but in retrospect, it is not near as big of a deal as you might think. Don’t get caught up on the little things, keep your eyes focused on your future and your goals. It’s okay to care about what you wear or who you go to prom with- just remember that high school is only 4 years. You have so much ahead of you.

2. The friends you have in 7th grade may not still be your friends when you graduate and that’s okay.

During your middle/high school years, you are going to grow and change and the people around you will as well. Some friends will weather the storms of life with you, and others will move on to other things. It can be sad in the moment to lose a friend, but know that you will meet new people wherever you are and in whatever season of life. God is going to put the right people in your path in the right time.

3. Being in a relationship is not a requirement.

You are not weird or a freak if you are single. There is nothing wrong with taking time to focus on yourself and give the guys around you time to mature and grow into the men they need to be. You don’t need a boyfriend to have value or worth. Don’t let anyone tell you differently! I went out on dates in high school, but I was 21 before I had my first serious boyfriend. There is nothing wrong with dating in high school, but you should never feel pressure to enter into or remain in a relationship simply because you are worried you’ll be looked at differently if you’re single.

4. A Kylie Jenner Lip Kit will not make you like yourself more or help the things you are self-conscious about (I’m talking to myself here).

Something I have never liked about myself is my lips. I know that sounds dumb, but every time I would look in the mirror, I would look at them and think they are too small. I always told myself when I got older I would get some type of filler to make my lips bigger. It made me feel better to think eventually this perceived “flaw” would be fixed. However, there came a point when I had to realize that I’m not Angelina Jolie or Kylie Jenner- I’m Bailey Kennon. “Fixing” or “covering up” something was not going to deal with the real issue at hand- which was my heart. Not saying there is anything wrong with lip kits (I like lip liners as much as the next person)- simply that before you attempt to “fix” yourself on the outside, you have to examine your heart on the inside. Then, real progress and transformation can take place.

5. You don’t have to make mistakes, but it’s okay if you do. 

The beautiful thing about having parents, older siblings, and mentors is that you can learn from their mistakes. You don’t have to make the same mistakes they do- you can take their advice and hopefully avoid many obstacles. However, it’s okay if you do make mistakes. That’s how you learn and that’s how you grow. I have certainly made my share of mistakes, but I’m learning I can’t mentally beat myself up for it. Understand that one wrong turn does not mean you have derailed your entire life- every day is a new day and a new opportunity to make it better than the day before.

6. You are not who you have been, you are who you choose to be. Choose to be someone good.

Change and transformation is normal. You’re going to go through many seasons of life. Sometimes you may not understand your purpose, you many not understand why God has put you on a certain path. But regardless of where you are, be something good. Learn to shine wherever He places you. One of my favorite quotes is- “Grow where you are planted”- learn to live by that.

7.  You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

In regards to this, I’m not talking about your parents or other authority figures- I’m talking peers and boyfriends. Just because someone asks you to do something does not mean you have to. Whether that be going to a party, going further physically in a relationship than you want to, underage drinking, smoking, etc. You have to know what your boundaries are and not allow anyone to push you past them. Just for the record, it is possible to get through middle school and high school without drinking, partying, or smoking. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Do what you know is right and let the chips fall where they may. Be strong and stand up for yourself.

8. Pray for your future spouse.

This is so important. Regardless of whether or not you meet the man you’ll marry in high school- he is going through the same things you are. He will have seasons of loneliness, happiness, frustration, and worry. Pray for his heart and for his relationship with the Lord. Ask God to give him the strength to stay strong in his faith and to put the people in his life that he will need to mentor him. You never know what is going on in his home or in his life- Make sure he has your prayers.

9. Words carry weight.

My primary love language is words of affirmation. My whole week can be made by a tiny compliment- as well as an insult can tear me to pieces. I’ve had to learn to toughen up, but I’ve learned that words carry a lot of weight. Use your words to build people up- not discourage or tear them down. In this age of social media, once you put something out there, you cannot take it back. Know the power of your words and your keyboard. Before posting something, remember that it will always be there and try to think of who it will affect.

10. Give grace.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life is that we’re all going to mess up. Today it might be me, tomorrow it might be you. Regardless, give grace. I’m not saying you shouldn’t defend or take up for yourself if someone is treating you poorly. I am telling you when a friend hurts you- remember a time that you hurt someone and how you would have loved to have been given grace. I am trying to learn to live a life that abundantly gives grace, because that’s what our Lord does and shouldn’t we try to be more like Him?

Above all, center yourself and your life in Jesus. Life won’t always be easy, but it will be fulfilling knowing that you’re walking with the Creator by your side.

Happy school year ladies- make it a good one!

“Her clothes are strength and honor. She is full of joy about the future. She opens her mouth with wisdom. The teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” -Proverbs 31:25-26 (NLV)

When The Burden Is Too Heavy

My heart has been so heavy recently in the light of COVID-19. People are scared for their lives and their livelihoods. We’re in frustrating and uncertain times- I know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel; but, sometimes it’s hard to persevere until we see that light.

This morning in my quiet time I read about Moses and chapter 11 in the book of Numbers. This was the passage given-

“And Moses said to the Lord, ‘Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to desire the burn of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!'” – Numbers 11:11-13 (NLT)

To give a little context, the Israelites still have not entered the Promised Land. They are currently wandering in the desert and making Moses’ life pretty miserable. Instead of being thankful for being on their way to the place God has for them, the Israelites are too consumed with what they don’t have. So, Moses is frustrated and sharing his feelings with the Lord.

The first thing I really love about that passage is how direct and honest Moses is. The guy is just mad, annoyed, and over it! I think sometimes we feel like when we pray and talk with God we need to have our thoughts beautifully wrapped up to present to Him. But, I don’t really believe that’s what Jesus wants. I think He desires us to be real and raw because that is what comes with a deep and intimate relationship.

If you think about your relationship with your best friend- When you’re upset, do you tone down your feelings? Do you worry about being judged for having emotions (good or bad)? No- You’re real and honest. You’re upfront about being angry or sad or emotional.

In my opinion, our conversations with Jesus shouldn’t be any different. He desires to know the deepest parts of us and when we feel frustrated, He wants us to come to Him.

The second thing I think is very important in this chapter is that God not only wanted Moses to share the burden with Him, but also the people around him.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you.  I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.'” Numbers 11:16-17 (NLT)

I don’t know why, but this just gets me. How marvelous is it that God gets it? He knows that we need Him, but He also recognizes that we need community. We need accountability partners, mentors, and friends to help us carry the burdens we have. Moses was a pretty impressive person and I would say had been through the ringer in his life. But, God knew he still would need others to help him through this frustrating time.

Taking this and applying it to our current state- I would encourage you to be real with God. If you’re scared or upset or mad or stressed- tell Him. Open yourself up to Him and invite Him to work in you to give you peace.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to need other people. Don’t be afraid to share your burdens and concerns whatever they may be. If Moses needed people and community- You do too. There will be an end to this very strange time we’re living in and I am choosing to believe we will be better people for it. But, in the mean time, it’s okay to not be okay. Be open and honest with yourself, Jesus, and the community He has given you.

 

The Quarantine Diaries: Part 1

It’s the first real few days of quarantine here on the Gulf Coast and I’m feeling a lot like Rapunzel. I’ve cleaned out closets and dusted book shelves and read just about every book on them. And it’s only been like 3 days.

The interesting thing about quarantine is that it makes you think. I think as a culture we’ve become very uncomfortable with silence- we drown out our own introspective thoughts with schedules, gatherings, and over-commitments because if our calendars weren’t full, we might have to sit and actually deal with the real things of life. It’s hard and we seem to avoid it like the plague. But in this situation, we’re having to deal with our own thoughts because we’re trying to avoid the actual  plague. “Oh, how the turn tables…”- Michael Scott

I used to be afraid of silence, but now I’m learning to appreciate it. I’m learning to not be afraid of time alone, but to embrace it.

I’m not married quite yet. I’ve been engaged, I’ve gotten un-engaged, I’ve fallen in love, then out of love, broken up with people and then broken up with by people. I still have a lot of life ahead of me don’t get me wrong (I’m only 24), but sometimes in the silence and the alone-ness I just wonder. The majority of my friends are married, engaged and some even are beginning to have children. All of this going on around me certainly starts to make me feel some pressure.

All my single/unmarried folks out there get it- it’s hard. I’m in no rush to get married or have children, but I do wonder when I’m going to find my person. Could be tomorrow or could be 3 years from now. Who really knows?

But here’s the place I’ve come to- I’m over trying to figure it out. I’ve found that there are a lot of parallels between this whole quarantine situation and being single/unmarried. We’re not going to be quarantined or single forever. One day soon (God willing), there will be a cure and we’ll come out of our house and go back to our busy lives. One day you’ll meet the person of your dreams and you won’t go back to it being just you on a Friday at home with a new book.

My point is- we’ve been given this time for a reason. What are we going to do with it?

I’m going to read, organize, and spend some time with Jesus and my family. I’ve also been saying for 2 years now that I’m going to try jiu-jitsu so when this whole thing is over y’all have to hold me accountable. Maybe I’ll YouTube some how-to videos until then.

On a more serious note, I want to make the most out of this time I have for myself. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know that somehow I want to change the world. Haven’t quite figured that out yet, but in the mean time, I’m going to push myself and hopefully grow into someone Jesus can use for big things- whatever those things may be.

Stay safe y’all. Wash your hands. Also, if you’re looking for a great Netflix show, try Love Is Blind (it’s a beautiful train wreck).

Something More

I’m a very goal-oriented person- I love working for certain things and then being able to check them off my list. I enjoy feeling like I am working towards something that is bigger than myself. I think that’s why every day of my life I’m either stressed out or bored- there is no in between. I’ve always got something going on.

I also think that is one of the reasons why I have continued to compete in pageants year after year. I have not won a state title yet (maybe this year will be my year lol) and I’ve had people make comments to me (and also behind my back lol) about why would she continue to compete? Hasn’t she done this like 5 times already?

Here’s the thing, I think many of us experience this in different ways. Maybe you’re not a pageant contestant, but you enjoy running 5ks. Maybe you’ve got a dream of building a business. Maybe you want to write a book one day. These may be big goals or they may be small, but you enjoy working towards them because it makes you feel like you are working towards something bigger. Who really wants to just sleep, eat, go to work, come home and repeat the next day? There’s got to be more to our lives than that.

I love competing in pageants because it makes me better as a person. I have a goal to work toward. I have a reason to not eat pizza 3 days a week- you wouldn’t believe the motivation you have for fitness when you know you’ll be wearing a swimsuit on stage in a few months. But beyond the physical aspect, competing in pageants has given me a platform for my non-profit and I feel like I’ve truly been able to make a difference in the state that I love so much.

I’ve been reading through the book of Ecclesiastes and it’s hit me pretty hard. If you haven’t read it- I would certainly encourage it because it really puts life in perspective for us. King Solomon (the author of the book) had wealth, power, status, and anything else a person could dream of accumulating in life. But, he writes about how every bit of it is meaningless unless you are doing something bigger with what you have.

I’ve learned that God doesn’t need me- He wants me- but He doesn’t need me to accomplish what He wants to do. However, I don’t want to miss out on what God’s doing. I desire to be apart of His plan in whatever way I can. Whatever gifts, talents, skills, or opportunities He has given me, I want to use those things to do something bigger.

I love my job in real estate, I love competing in pageants, and I also love being a personal trainer, but reading through this book has really challenged me to think deeper and ask myself what’s the bigger goal? What is the bigger purpose? I don’t want to just make a living- I want to make a life that that has depth to it. But, only Jesus can truly add depth to our lives.

So, I say all this to say- what are the things you’re doing (pageants, 5ks, building a side business) and what is the bigger goal in them? Some folks may not understand why I compete in pageants year after year- but it honestly doesn’t really matter what they think. Just like it doesn’t matter if people understand why you keep running 5ks or writing drafts to a book you’ve been dreaming about publishing. What matters is that you have goals, you have dreams, and you have purpose. If you aren’t sure quite yet what that purpose is, that is okay.

I would encourage you this week to start reflecting and praying on how you can take the things your life consists of right now, and use them to be a part of something more.

So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.25 For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please Him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please Him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” – Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 (NLT)

 

Things Every Woman Should Do Before She Gets Married- Overcoming Anxiety

I think I have always struggled with anxiety, but I did not realize that it was anxiety I was  struggling with. I’m somewhat of a worrier by nature and I do not have a carefree personality (type A all the way) so I always chalked it up to “this is just the way I am, it’s not a big deal”.

But the problem with anxiety, is that it is a big deal. I’m sure everyone’s experience with it is a little different. However, anytime I start to feel anxious it’s almost like that feeling you get when you know you’ve forgotten something. You start to panic wondering what it is you’ve forgotten and you begin to feel warm and your stomach drops.

I remember one time I was standing in my kitchen unloading the dishwasher. Out of nowhere, I had a full blown anxiety episode. I still remember it clear as day, and that was also the day that I realized I needed to do whatever it took to overcome those feelings.

I have found that I struggle with anxiety the most when things are going well- I am always looking over my should thinking “When is the other shoe going to drop? What’s the bad going on that I’m not seeing?”

We all have anxiety and worry for different reasons and I think it can come from different places depending on our background or upbringing. I experience this a lot in my relationships- after my engagement ended, I was so hurt and broken that I knew I never wanted to experience that type of pain again. So since then, anytime I start to get to know someone new, I immediately start waiting for it to all crash and burn. This really isn’t a great way to live, you know?

I’ve definitely gotten better about not worrying 24/7, but it’s still a struggle and I’ve been looking for some scripture to cling to when I feel anxiety creeping in. I’ve been reading through Proverbs and this verse popped out at me:

“You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
    or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
 for the Lord is your security.
    He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.” 

Proverbs 3:25-26 (NLT)

I was so amazed at how well this sums up my anxious feelings- it truly does feel like I’m always afraid of a sudden disaster. But, this reminds us that Jesus is our shield. Not to say a shield will keep us from experiencing bad times- but it will keep us safe while we walk through our battles. If we are chasing righteousness and His will, regardless of the circumstances, He is going to keep us from falling prey to the evil and bad that is in this world.

Something that has really been on my heart is praying and speaking scripture in my prayers. I feel like it adds another element of strength when I’m praying to weave in scripture and speak back to God what He’s written for us to read.

When you feel anxious, start to pray and keep this verse or any other verse you find comforting in mind. I would also say that therapy/counseling and reading books on how to deal with anxiety can be extremely helpful. But, always start with Jesus and He will show you what additional steps to take to work through the problems you’re facing.

If there is something you are specifically anxious about, I would love for you to DM me and I’d really like to pray for you during my own quiet time. Or, I’d be even happier to pray with you. Sometimes just having someone else to pray over you and intercede on your behalf can truly make a huge difference in your spirit. I know I have always been so thankful anytime someone has done that for me!

Learn To Be “Really Good” At Suffering

One of the books I’m reading right now is Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. Once I finish it, I’m going to share more about the book itself. However, in the very first chapter he interviews a woman named Amelia Boone. This wonder of a woman is an obstacle racer and endurance athlete. She has won the World’s Toughest Mudder 3 times, was the Spartan Race World Champion in 2013, and is one of the most decorated obstacle runners in history. Oh, and she’s a full-time corporate attorney. (If you would like to read more on her accomplishments and then feel the need to run 10 miles, here it is.)

She is clearly a very impressive person, but what really stuck with me was one of her quotes Ferriss included-

“I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. But I’m really good at suffering.”

I’ve really got nothing in common with this woman- I’ve never even been camping because I like the comfort of a traditional restroom. So, I can’t even begin to comprehend the mental, physical, and emotional strength it takes to accomplish what she has. I do not have any bit of desire to even run a 5k much less pay to participate in some of these ridiculously difficult competitions. However, regardless of the lack of similarities- I think she’s on to something about the whole being “really good at suffering.”

Truth is, suffering is universal. No matter gender, age, occupation, religion, political affiliation- everyone suffers at some point in their lives. We don’t plan for it, but it happens. We endure relational hardships, we lose jobs or clients, we experience failure, and we all have to learn to deal with it to be able to move forward.

As most of you know, I’m a pageant girl. I competed at the state level 5 times- three in the Miss America System and twice in the Miss USA System. I gave blood, sweat, and tears because I wanted that crown. It was a dream and it was a goal and I was gonna do it no matter what it took. I WAS GOING TO BE MISS ALABAMA. (Spoiler alert, God had other plans.)

But here’s the thing about pageants (and a lot of things in life)- we don’t have control over it. We can show up, do our best, but it is still out of our hands at the end of the day. My first year at Miss Alabama I didn’t make top 12 and I left devastated. My confidence took a beating, but eventually I got over myself, my hurt pride, and got back on the horse. The next year I didn’t win, but I did make top 12. I continued to compete 3 more times and I made top 15, top 12, and top 10 at the other competitions. I didn’t win, but each year it got easier to accept not winning. I learned to “suffer” well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working on accepting failure gracefully. However, I realized it was out of my control, I learned to lean on God and His plan, and not what Bailey thought was best.

Here’s why I’m including this blog on suffering in my “Things Every Woman Should Do Before She Gets Married” series. For a long time when I would experience failure or suffering, I would lean on my relationships. I would bury my hurt feelings and distract myself with my boyfriend because it was easier than actually learning to accept failure and become better through it. I wasn’t learning to suffer well; I was trying to skip over the disappointment and the opportunity to grow.

Here’s the thing and it’s hard to accept, but I think we need to feel the suffering. I think we need to learn to suffer well. Distracting ourselves from our disappointment and failures only stunts our growth. We may be able to distract ourselves from our current upsetting situation, but we cannot out run it forever.

So, how do we learn to be “really good at suffering”? How do we reach the point where we can truly experience disappointment or failure, take it by the horns, and emerge stronger?

  1. Stop running.

Don’t use people or things to escape the “not fun” parts of life. Learn to be open to feeling the pain because the sooner you start feeling it, the sooner you can become better at dealing with it.

2. Give it to Jesus.

I’ve learned that God’s always got a plan and 10 out of 10 times it’s better than mine (even though I seem to forget that). Whatever failure or disappointment you’re experiencing, learn to come to Him in prayer and He may not take the pain away immediately, but through surrendering, you are going to begin to feel peace again.

3. Move forward.

I think it’s important to take time to analyze situations, ponder what you could have done better, and plan what you will do better. However, don’t dwell in that place of hurt forever. Once you’ve identified the lessons that were learned- move on with life.

In summary, suffering is not a fun topic, but I feel it’s necessary. Once we learn to suffer well, life will be a much easier ride because you’re braced for it. I hope you start giving everything over to Jesus- the good and the bad. Regardless of your circumstances, He does have a plan and purpose even through the valleys and lows of life.

“I am sure that our suffering now cannot be compared to the shining-greatness that He is going to give us.” Romans 8:18 (NLV)

 

 

Things Every Woman Should Do Before She Gets Married- UPDATE! (Daniel Fast & Books I’m Reading)

Hi Friends!

So, I’ve already gotten a jump start on my goals- One of the things I wanted to do was a Daniel fast the month of January. My family used to do it every year, but have not the past few years. I have found that when I’m where I need to be spiritually, most other areas of my life seem to fall more in line.

I think it’s very easy to get distracted with life, college, jobs, and everything else in the world. Sometimes we just lose sight of ourselves and I know I have in a lot of way. But, I want to change that! What are some things you feel like you need to change or areas you need to grow?

In addition to the spiritual aspect, fasting is a great way to find discipline when it comes to our food intake. I am not fasting to lose weight, but I know a weakness of mine is anything having to do with bread/pizza/pasta/fries/potatoes in some form. Just like Oprah, “I LOVE BREAD”. But, too much of anything is a bad thing. I want to see how my body reacts and changes during this fast and then after January see how I want to proceed.

If you are planning on trying a Daniel fast, I would suggest thinking and praying about what exactly you want to fast and to what extent. Some people are not able to do as strict of a fast due to health conditions, etc. I have decided to eat fruits, veggies, some dairy, and minimal meat (for example, egg whites for breakfast or chicken in a salad). I know that I need some meat in my diet due to the amount of weight lifting I do. So, I have modified, but the biggest struggle of all for me will be the lack of bread-y carbs and I won’t be having another cheat meal until February so believe me, your girl is sacrificing. (February 1st you can find me at Whataburger)

Here’s sort of a list of what I eat in a day if you are trying to visualize what this fasting would look like-

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Another big thing I have started is my reading 2 books a month- I’m still working on finishing my two for January, but I wanted to share a few that I have already read because I think every person can gain something from these.

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I read this book a few months after my engagement ended. Reading this book was probably the greatest thing I could have done for myself at the time. Lysa Terkeurst is one of my favorite authors, but I think this book is her greatest work simply because of just how real and vulnerable she is with her own life. It really helped me heal and if you’re going through a difficult time and you don’t understand why, you need to read this.

The Magnolia Story

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Confession- I’ve read this more than once. I love Chip and Jo! I love their show and I watch a lot of HGTV because of my career (always looking for new ideas), but I have fallen in love with who they are as people. It is so cool to read their story and watch how they’ve build the empire they have. They are both incredibly hardworking, driven people. But, they are also an amazing team and I think that is probably the coolest thing about them.

The Sparkle Effect

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My pageant girls! If you have not read this, you need to. Kristen Wolfe was a Miss North Carolina USA and then went on to become Miss USA. I read this book right before I competed at Miss Alabama USA for the first time and it really put me in a good head space for competition. However, even if you aren’t a pageant contestant or are no longer competing, there is so much in this book that any young woman needs to hear and be reminded of.

In summary- fasting and praying can be life changing. Reading books to give you a different perspective can be life changing. Take this month of January to set your mind and yourself straight for the rest of the new year. 2020 is going to be a great one!

Things Every Woman Should Do Before She Gets Married

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I’m really not one for New Year’s Resolutions- I’m a very goal oriented person, but I’ve never really gotten into the whole idea of making resolutions. I feel resolutions are general- goals are specific. It is easy to fall off our resolution wagon when our resolutions are as simple as “eat healthier” or “save more money”. Instead, I feel it should be more like “lose 10lbs” or “pay off my car”. We have to have a way to measure our goals so we can claim success and hold ourselves accountable.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2020 and what I want to accomplish this year. I feel like this year is going to be a year to focus on myself and becoming the best version of Bailey that I can. I’m not married nor do I have children so I have the ability to focus on myself and becoming more and more the woman I need to be.

I’ve not shared this much publicly, because who enjoys sharing losses or difficult seasons of life? In addition, up until this point I did not really feel I had enough time to reflect and be able to adequately express how I have grown and how I have learned. A couple years ago, I got engaged to my boyfriend at the time. Unfortunately, about a month after he proposed we called off the engagement. It was very sad and difficult, but ultimately what was best for us both. But, sometimes what is best is the most painful and it was very, very painful.

However, I have had a lot of time to think, reflect, and grow from that experience. I learned much about myself, relationships, but most importantly what I did not have. I allowed myself to become so caught up in being a couple and wanting to be someone’s wife- I stopped being an individual. If I had gotten married when I had planned, I certainly would not be the person I am today, but more importantly, I wouldn’t be a whole person. I would have just been a half of a whole.

After the relationship ended, I did a lot of praying and thinking. Who is Bailey? Who does Bailey want to be? Not what does my husband/parents/friends want, but what do I want? And most importantly- what does God want for me?

I say all this to say I have learned- you have to be a whole person before you can become part of a couple. You cannot lean on others to fulfill your desires and needs because that is not their job. You will never be able to be content with someone else, unless you are first content with yourself.

In pursuit of being content with myself, I have realized that before I get married I need 3 things: 1) spiritual goals, 2) financial goals, 3) fun/adventure goals. Below, I have written out some of mine (more to come)- daily quiet time qualifies as spiritual, pay off schooling is a financial goal, and then the rest fall into “fun” goals. I think it’s very important to have fun goals as much as anything else. You need to find ways to push yourself and keep learning about who you are as an individual. Read books, learn to knit, go camping, climb a mountain, try a new gym class- whatever floats your boat!

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I want to kind of chronicle these goals of mine because it’s a journey I’m on and I’m hoping that through sharing my story I can encourage other women to do the same. Create goals, pursue an education/a career, find what gives you peace, learn why God put you on this earth.

You are not a half waiting to be a whole. You are complete just the way you are. However, every one of us has room to grow and learn, take this time to do that.

More to come!