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An Open Letter To The Girl Starting Back To School

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Hello Lovely Lady,

As summer comes to an end and you begin a new school year,  I want to send you off with lots of encouragement. In addition, 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 wish people had shared with me. Here we go…

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

In the moment, some things seem so important. Who you go to prom with, what you wear the first day of school, whether or not your crush texts you back- but in retrospect, none of that really matters. Don’t get caught up on the little things, keep your eyes focused on your future and your goals!

2. The friends you have in 7th grade may not still be your friends when you graduate. 

Its sounds sad, but honestly, it’s just life. During your middle/high school years, you are going to grow and change and the people around you will as well. Some friends will stick around, 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 to be husband material. You don’t need a boyfriend to have value or worth. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!

4. A Kylie Jenner Lip Kit will not make you like yourself more or help the things you are self-conscious about.

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. What I would give for lips like Angelina Jolie- I mean geez! This sounds ridiculous, but I always told myself when I got older I would get some type of filler to make my lips bigger. I told myself that because it made me feel better thinking there was a fix to the thing that I didn’t like about myself. However, there came a point when I had to realize that I’m not Angeline 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. 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 you are. 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 you want and what your boundaries are and then not let anyone pressure you beyond where you have drawn a line. 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.

9. Word 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 to not 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 in a time when you said the wrong thing or made the wrong decision. Learn to live a life of love- not a life of drama.

Above all, center yourself in the Lord. Remember that decisions and doing the right thing become easier when you are following the path God has set before you. It won’t always be easy, but it will be fulfilling.

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)

Competing for an Audience of One

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As Miss Alabama week draws near, I’ve been really reflecting on my year as Miss Leeds. It has been such an incredible year and I’m so thankful to my Leeds family for welcoming me into their community and helping me prepare for my journey to Miss Alabama.

This will be my third year competing and each year I’ve tried to set a goal for myself. I would love to be Miss Alabama more than anything, but in addition to the goal of the Miss Alabama title, I’ve tried to set personal growth goals to make sure I’m continually being challenged and changed for the good.

This year has been different for me than the past 2 years of competing. Every year I’ve given my best- but this year I have given it everything I have. I’ve worked very, very hard to be able to present the best Bailey possible on that stage and I’m so excited for competition week because I’m proud of the work I’ve done to become the person I am today.

However, even though I’ve put in the time and given all the effort I have- there is still the chance that I may never take home the crown. I can continue to compete for another two years until I age out and I still may never be Miss Alabama. Although that’s extremely sad to think about- it’s given me some perspective.

My goal for this year was to learn to compete for an audience of One. In life, I’ve found that people love to speculate. If you continually live and thrive off of people’s speculations or expectations, it will eventually get to you. Complements are wonderful in the moment, but criticisms can crush you when other people’s opinions are all you consider and take to heart.

I’ve questioned myself a lot during my time in pageantry. I’ve questioned whether or not I am good enough to be Miss Alabama. But over the course of this year, I’ve learned to let it go. I’m no longer questioning or wondering what my capabilities or worth are. Because I’m not competing to prove myself or my value, I’m not competing to impress others, I’m not competing to prove anything- I’m competing because I know this is where the Lord wants me. When I walk on that stage, every bit of me is competing for one person and one person only- that person is Jesus.

I’ve fallen in love with Jesus this year in a way I haven’t before. He’s become my best friend and my shelter. I’ve learned to not do things to please other people- but to do things to honor Him. As long as I am making Jesus proud, it does not really matter whether I take home a crown or come in dead last- because I will have fulfilled my purpose.

So, I want to ask you this- are you living your life to please or impress others? Or are you living your life to honor Christ? The latter is far easier and much more fulfilling than the former. I want to encourage you to learn to lean totally on Him instead of the opinions of others because people are fickle and they change constantly. However, our Heavenly Father is always constant and His desire for our good never changes.

© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Healer For The Broken

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Today I was driving home from Birmingham- I live there about half the time now so I spend a good amount of time in the car going back and forth between there and Orange Beach. But today’s drive was a bit different than most.

I put on some worship music and decided to spend some time in prayer since I haven’t done as good of job lately as I should about spending time with the Lord. I was kinda catching up with Him, like you would with an old friend. I was praying about all the transitions and changes in my life lately and I just started crying. I’m not much of a crier, much less a weeper, but that’s what I was doing. Like, uncontrollably weeping.

This might sound strange, but in that moment I had a vision or something similar. That doesn’t happen very often for me, but I’m guessing that’s what it was- God was trying to show me something. In whatever this was, I saw classrooms of students. Through my pageant platform, I spend a lot of time in schools, clubs, and churches speaking to kids so it was a familiar sight. But none of these kids were smiling, they weren’t crying or visibly upset, but I could feel sadness in them. I felt the word “broken” on my heart as I was seeing these kids. Then, I began to cry even more.

I felt so heartbroken for these students. I feel that I’m a pretty empathetic person and identifying with others is a strength I have, but this was unlike anything I had felt before. I started telling God, “Please use me. Please let me help these kids, I don’t want them to hurt, I don’t want them to feel broken. Please Lord, please.” Speaking these words turned to yelling them because it just hurt my heart so bad. I didn’t understand why God showed me that or why He put it on my heart. But as I continued praying, I understood.

He was breaking my heart for what breaks His.

I’m so guilty of being wrapped up in myself. Being more concerned about school and my social life to not see what’s right before me. I think we are all guilty of that sometimes, we get caught up in ourselves and in deadlines to not see the bigger picture. We as Christians bicker with each other and get frazzled over meaningless things instead of just being vessels for God’s purpose.

We’re supposed to bring broken people to the ultimate Healer. We’re supposed to help people when the world fails them, because we aren’t of the world and neither is our Savior. Instead of bickering between denominations or churches, we should be coming together as communities to give hurting people hope. We’ve been given the greatest gift in the world- How could we get so busy with ourselves that we forget to share it?

My boyfriend Charlie introduced me to a show called Last Chance U a few weeks ago. I didn’t really want to watch it because it was a documentary on a football team and it didn’t sound interesting. But, when you’re in a relationship you learn to take turns with what you watch on Netflix (millennial relationship probz). I definitely don’t recommend this show for kids because there is far too much bad language; however, after getting through the first episode I was hooked and I think there is a lot to be learned for adult viewers. The players in this documentary impacted me so much and I binge-watched every episode in like 3 days. After finishing it, I was telling everyone I knew that they needed to watch it- because it made a difference in my life and impacted me for the good.

I use this example because that’s how Christians have to be with Jesus. Whenever you hear a new song or see a new movie you like, you share it with everyone you know. You want them to have the same experience with it that you did. I wanna be that way with Jesus- I want to share Him with every person I know. I want my heart to break for what breaks His.

So I want to challenge you- Are you living in your own little world? Are you too busy with yourself or your Christian bubble to not see hurting people? Remember the first time you heard your favorite song- take that feeling and apply it to your relationship with Jesus. Then take that application and share Him with every person you meet.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”- Psalm 147:3

© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

You Worth It

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Where does a person’s worth come from? Musical or athletic ability? Academic success? A great career? A well-paying job? An good-looking boyfriend? A huge aspect of my Dating With Purpose platform is realizing your self-value and self-worth. When I speak to students (and even parents), I emphasize how important it is that you respect yourself and expect respect from others. I talk about how crucial it is that you realize your value and worth. You have to LOVE who YOU are- that’s the first step to any healthy relationship- but also the first step to being emotionally and mentally healthy as an individual.

Obviously, like most things, loving yourself is easier said than done. Over the past few months, that is something I have really had to focus and work on. When I speak to students I always tell them I am preaching to myself more than anyone else because I am not perfect and I definitely don’t have everything figured out. Self-love and self-confidence is something you work on and work toward all of your life. I’m still figuring out how to love who I am as a person. I am still learning where my worth and value comes from.

In my Dating With Purpose presentation, I explain to students how every person is unique- they all have certain special talents and abilities. Whether that be they are an excellent student or beautiful pianist or a great tennis player- they all have things that make them special.

But something I have been brewing on and a mistake I’ve made in my own life is I have depended far too much on my talents to define my worth. I thought that because I can sing and play four instruments- that gives me value. I thought if I maintained a 4.0 throughout school- I’d be worth more as a person. This may sound silly, but I don’t think I’m alone in this- I think we all struggle with trying to earn our value and worth.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying your gifts and talents and abilities don’t have meaning or do not make you successful. We all have achievements we are proud of- but in my mind- my achievements were all I had. I thought if I lost my singing voice or made a C in my biology class it would make me worth less than before. A guy wouldn’t like me anymore or people wouldn’t really care to be my friend. Again, I know that sounds ridiculous, but that was just where my mind was at.

Over the years, I’ve learned through a lot of prayer and guidance from others where a person’s worth comes from. It does not come from things you might lose- like a 4.0 or your ability to hit a home run. Your worth and value comes from your heart. It comes from your mind. It comes from the little things that make a huge difference- like putting others above yourself. Walking with humility. Stepping up and being a leader or doing the hard job when no one else will. It’s caring for the person that has no one else to care for them. Because to that person- you are worth everything. It is giving when you don’t have anything to give. It is loving someone who is difficult to love. It’s being patient when you’re running late and have a million things on your to do list. It is having pride in everything you do and being the hardest worker in the room. The fact of the matter is many things fade or lose meaning- pageant crowns, a 4.0, a high school or college athletic career, etc. But all of these things I’ve listed- they will always have meaning.

You can never lose your ability to love, to care, or to serve. You never have to lose your work ethic or humble attitude. Your servant heart and leadership ability never fade with time or lose purpose. THIS is what makes you special and sets you apart. THIS is what makes people want to be a part of your life. THIS is what gives you value and worth.

© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Learning To Live Without A Script

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I don’t know how many times I have said this, but I’ll say it again- I’m a planner. I like my life being organized and put together. When it is not- I stress and freak out (maybe that’s why I’m stressed out all the time 😉 #GottaGetMyselfTogether). I hate when plans get canceled or changed last minute. Little things bug me- like when I plan for it to rain and then it doesn’t. I just like when everything is in order and goes according to schedule- chaos is not my comfort zone.

However, over the past couple years I’ve had to learn to be flexible. Starting a non-profit, competing in my first pageant, winning my first pageant, traveling throughout the state speaking in schools, churches and civic clubs on Dating With Purpose- none of that was a part of the plan. 3 years ago I never could have guessed I’d be getting ready to compete at the Miss Alabama Pageant for the 2nd time. Crazy how life changes, man.

I feel like I have encountered a good bit of personal and spiritual growth in the past few years and I have had to learn to rely on the Lord in many ways that I have never really had to before. I think for the most part I had it backwards- I thought it was my job to figure everything out ahead of time, put together my  10 year plan, and then come back to God for the OK. HA, how silly of me- that’s not how that works!

The really incredible thing about our God is that He wants to be with us every step of the way in every aspect of our life. We’re never on our own- He doesn’t throw us to the world and expect us to figure it all out. He loves us so much that he wants us to walk with Him daily and let Him guide us- not walk along a path we’ve already chosen ourselves. There’s not a whole lot of faith required in that- right?

I still have a long way to go- but I’m learning to find growth and joy in letting Him guide me. This faith and trust I’m building in Him through this journey is what is going to continue to grow my relationship with Christ and get me through the tough times that will inevitably come.

Don’t spend your whole life planning everything yourself. There is nothing wrong with having goals or being prepared, but ya gotta leave room for God to do His work. Life’s a chess game- pieces are continually moving and you have to learn to adapt to whatever situation the Lord has you in. You are obviously there for a reason, even if that reason isn’t quite obvious yet.

I’ll end on this- don’t let the uncertainty of the future or worry of the unknown keep you from letting the Lord lead and grow you. Sometimes you have to live life without a script and throw your plans out the window. Easier said that done- but at the end of the day I always come back to the fact that God is one person that’s never failed me. Why would He start now, ya know?

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” -Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Expect Respect

A little over two years ago, I founded my non-profit- I’ll Wait Ministries, Inc. The following year I blogged, traveled, and spoke through my ministry in the church community about the importance of dating with purpose. The message of my non-profit was one I felt was lacking in the church and because of that it was widely accepted.

When I decided to compete in my first pageant in 2015, I decided to derive my platform, Dating With Purpose, from my ministry because it is something I care with my whole heart about. Instead of just speaking to the religious community, I wanted to bring my Dating With Purpose and Expect Respect message to a broader audience. When I won my first local title, I had the ability to go to schools, clubs, and events and do just that. Over the past year, I’ve had over 60 speaking engagements and spoken to all different age groups on Dating With Purpose and Expect Respect. I have surveyed students and received feedback from teachers on my presentation and what is good/bad and what could be better. I have loved the feedback and constructive criticism I have received because I only want to improve my platform and make it better.

Since Miss Alabama last year, I have still been thinking and brewing on how to expand my platform and improve upon Dating With Purpose. Over the past few months I have been working on growing the #ExpectRespect aspect of my platform. I see my Dating With Purpose presentation almost as a domestic violence preventative program as I speak to self-value/worth, creating personal and relational boundaries, and the importance of setting standards for those in our life and the way they treat us.

In addition to helping students respect themselves and encouraging them have healthier dating relationships, I want to help prevent dating violence and abuse. I am working with multiple women’s shelters because they deal with the back end of dating or domestic violence and I want to be doing my part to help on the front end.

I am so excited about broadening my platform’s scope because I feel preventing domestic abuse/dating violence goes hand in hand with promoting healthy dating because dating is where it all begins.

I am excited about this new aspect of my platform and even more excited about the first fundraiser I will be doing for Mary’s Shelter. Wildflower’s Boutique and Evolve Fitness Spa will be serving as drop off sites for my “V Day Drive”. Mary’s Shelter is always in need of diapers, cleaning supplies, etc. and I would ask you to visit their website, find out what their needs are, and drop a few things off at one of the drop off sites! This “V Day Drive” will be running through Valentine’s Day and I’m grateful for your help in supporting an incredible resource our community has when it comes to domestic abuse and dating violence. They do so much for our women and children- let’s help give back!
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© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Getting Real

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There are a few things I would say I truly dislike. But I honestly really dislike being emotional. I hate crying in front of people and I don’t feel I am alone in this. I think a lot of times people try to be “strong” and don’t let others see them being emotional because we see that as a weakness. In the past any time I cried or was sad, I just saw that as vulnerability and I do not enjoy being vulnerable (but who does, am I right?).

In addition to seeing my emotional side as a weakness, I also feel some pressure to keep it together. I travel and speak on dating and relationships to a lot of students. I am supposed to be a strong role model so it wouldn’t really look good for me to be crying over a guy or a dating relationship, right?

Well, for a long time I think I was so focused on trying to be the best example I could be, I forgot to just be real. Sometimes life is a bummer and I cry. Sometimes I get heartbroken and I have to cry about it. It’s not a weakness; it is just a part of being human. It is a part of living life and being humbled to know that you need Jesus.

The last blog I wrote was about surrendering to the Lord. Well, a lot of times when we surrender to Jesus that means giving up something or making a choice that can be painful. In the moment, it can really hurt.

I don’t know what you are going through, but I do know that we all go through difficult seasons full of difficult decisions. Something a friend said to me was, “It’s okay to not be okay” and that hit me like a truck. Because honestly, a lot of times we’re not gonna be okay. We’re not gonna be skipping around singing and dancing; we watch TV and eat junk food. And that’s okay.

The thing is that we can’t be strong all the time. There are going to be many days where we feel weak and inadequate. But what makes life bearable through difficult times is that it is in Jesus we’re strong, not ourselves. As humans were fickle and subject to emotions and change, but Jesus is aways the same. He is our warrior in a time of trials and he is a constant in a time of change.

If you are reading this and you are going through a rough season, please know 1.) you’re not alone, 2.) it is not going to last forever, and most importantly 3.) God has a plan for you even through this pain. Now is not the rest of your life. What you’re going through is only today and know that when tomorrow comes, everything can and will get better, but it’s up to you to push through.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Do I Really Have to?

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A word that’s been on my mind recently is “surrender”. Something that happens to me every now and then is I’ll wake up with a song stuck in my head. A few weeks ago it happened and the song was the hymn “I Surrender All”. I’ve also been hearing the word surrender in many sermons recently so I kinda came to the point where I was like, “ok, God must be trying to tell me something.”

As humans, we’re all flawed. We all have weaknesses and we all make mistakes. Something that is really cool about our God is that He points out our flaws. For a long time, I used to resent it. I didn’t want God telling me what I was doing wrong because who really wants someone telling them what or what not to do? I don’t like my weaknesses being pointed out to me, but I have begun to realize that we really cannot grow as Christians if the Lord is not continually pushing us to be better.

Among all my flaws, I enjoy having control and I don’t love being told what to do. As humans, we’re born with a rebellious nature and I am no exception. I like doing exactly what I want to do because I know what’s best right?

Wrong.

Something about me is that I love flowers. Like, I’m so bad with plants, but I just love gardens. They’re so beautiful and peaceful. I could spend an entire day surrounded by greenery and peonies and be perfectly content. When I think about my faith, I imagine a garden. No garden is perfect, just like no person’s faith is going to be perfect. But in order for a garden to grow and be beautiful, you cannot have weeds growing everywhere. Weeds impede in the beautiful things God has planned for our life.

The thing about weeds is that they can be pretty to look at. Not every weed is ugly; however, no weed can ever compare to something like a rose or peony. But when we continue to let weeds grow in our lives, we are not making room for the beautiful things God has planned to take root. A big weed in my life is an attitude of rebellion. I do not know what possessed my pea-sized brain to think I know more or I know better than God, but that seems to be a common theme in humans since… pretty much forever. We believe we know what’s best. Instead of having a attitude of surrender, we want to hold on to the weeds in our lives.

When the Lord convicts us of certain things or puts something on our heart to change, that’s like Him plucking a weed. At first, it’s not fun. We have gotten used to having these weeds in our lives and it has become a part of the garden. But when we wholly surrender to His will and allow him to pluck these bad habits or flawed character traits, we are making room for us to grow in Him.

Surrendering wholly to God is such a difficult thing to do. But here’s the thing, we either have faith that He is going to come through so we allow him to completely take over our lives or we do not. For a long time, I had an attitude of “Do I really have to? Do I really have to give everything over to God? Can’t I just hold on to these few things and He can have the rest?” Lol fortunately, that’s not how a relationship with Jesus works.

God wants all of us. The good, bad, and ugly. The good, He wants to make great. The bad, He wants to make better. The ugly, He wants to make beautiful.

I want to encourage you to let go and surrender every part of your life to the Lord. Don’t let your temporary wants impede the beautiful things God has in store for you. Those weeds you have been holding onto- it’s time to let go.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. ” -Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rest vs Comfort

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Looking back at my life over the past year, I’m pretty amazed. I am amazed at all that has changed in my life and it’s so strange to think I wasn’t even competing in pageants this time last year. God has moved and worked in me and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

I feel like the majority of my life, my walk with God has always been “comfortable”. Sure, my faith has been tested and I’ve had to rely on God, but I think trusting God as a kid/teen is very different from trusting God as an adult. I have different challenges now and a lot more is at stake.

When I speak with my mentors or people whose faith I really admire, they never mention their walk with God to be “comfortable”. They explain how the Lord is always continually growing and stretching them and it’s not always an easy transition, but that is how they have grown in their faith. Recently something God has placed on my heart is how I’ve been comfortable in my walk with Him. When in reality, that’s not the purpose of our relationship with Christ at all.

A word that has been on my mind the past few weeks is “rest”. I’ve been thinking on it and the other day out of curiosity I googled Bible verses that included the word “rest”. One that popped up was Exodus 33:14-

“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'”

It’s a short verse, but what caught my attention is the fact that the verse seems somewhat contradictory. At this point, God is telling Moses that He’s going to be with him as he leads the Israelite people, but He is also going to give Moses rest. How can you be moving and also resting? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

There are two things that I know about the old testament Israelite people. 1. They are God’s chosen people and 2. They are super complainers. So, being Moses and having to lead a people who are continually going astray cannot be “restful” by any means. If anything, it’s the opposite. But, God is assuring Moses that He will show him favor and give Moses rest as he is leading.

Through reading this passage of scripture, it’s become really apparent to me what I’ve been missing in my walk with God. I’ve been missing the difference between resting in God and being comfortable with Him. God never meant for us to stay in one place because how can we grow? How can we be challenged? The Lord knows that if we are not continually stretched, we become lazy or distracted. But at the same time, He also sees that we get tired along the way if we don’t have some source of rest or peace. How incredible is it that God can be our peace?

This past year has been everything but comfortable for me. I’ve been stretched in every area of my life and I haven’t been comfortable at all. But what I have experienced is rest in the Lord. I’m always under the impression that I can do things alone and I don’t need help because whatever it is, I can handle it. But I feel like the Lord’s been continually tugging at my heart because obviously He knows I cannot do everything by myself, but more than that He doesn’t want me to. He wants to walk with us through our lives because He is our ultimate source of rest. He knows we can never get through this life alone because we’ll feel defeated. I’ve definitely felt defeated a time or two.

I want to encourage you to take a look at your own life. Are you resting in God or simply comfortable with Him? Comfortable may feel good for a while, but eventually life throws hardships at you and comfortable does not teach us how to deal with hardships. Instead, learn to walk with the Lord daily and throughout whatever it is you’re going through, He’ll give you rest.

© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

First Blog Post

Whenever a person loses, we hear from those around us comments like:

“You’re a winner to me!” “There’s always next year!” “You’re #1 in my heart!” Although these statements are made out of love and concern, they do not always ease the pain of disappointment. I sincerely appreciate the encouragement; it is hard for others to know what to say at such a time.

I am a very competitive person by nature- always have been, always will be. I come from a family of athletes and my dad is in politics, so I guess it is in my blood to be that way. I hate losing as much as the next person, but sometimes I have learned it is necessary, even beneficial.

When I began my journey to Miss Alabama, I knew I was fighting an uphill battle. First year girls are not normally viewed as real contenders, so I did keep my expectations in check. I proceeded into “Miss AL week” with confidence that it would be an incredible learning experience and that it was.

talent

Although I understood the reality of this being my first year, it was still difficult to “lose” and not even being called for the top twelve. It hurt and I was disappointed just as any girl would be. Every girl works herself silly to make appearances, promote her platform, eat somewhat healthy, remain consistent in the gym, stay current with world events , while maintaining high grades as a full-time college student. Many people may view competing in the Miss Alabama Pageant as a beauty contest and believe me if that was the case, our lives (the contestants) would be much easier. It is SO much more than walking around, smiling, in a pretty dress.

Through all of this, still only one young woman walks away with a crown. Everyone else drives home and tries again next year. It can be really discouraging sometimes.

About a month ago I had one of the worst dreams of my life. I went to Miss Alabama and I lost. I came home and ate nothing but Doritos (funny but something I would do) and I was just so depressed in this dream. I felt like a failure. When I woke up, I was so afraid I would feel exactly like that (Doritos and all) after Miss Alabama was over. That feeling of total failure absolutely terrified me.

Although I have been eating Doritos, now that Miss Alabama is over, I do not feel what I felt in my dream. I do not feel like a failure. I do not feel sad or depressed. I actually feel a joy I have never felt before. I have never been so happy for someone as I am for our Miss Alabama 2016, Hayley Barber, because she is an amazing individual and I hope I can grow into a person like her one day. She is a wonderful example for any girl who is competing in pageantry. We are blessed to be represented by her. #HayForMissA

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But, in addition to the joy I have for Hayley, I also have hope. I have faith in that God’s timing is perfect and this year just was not my time and that is okay. In all honestly, even though I will still keep competing, it may never be my time to hold the title of Miss Alabama and that is also okay. I have learned that every season of life is not fun, but there is purpose in every season. Life is not meant to always be fun. If life was always fun, we would never be challenged. I am glad I did not win because if I had not lost- I could not continue to grow because I know I have a good bit of growing to do. If I had won, I would not have been the best Miss Alabama I could be. But with having the opportunity to lose, now I know I can go full force into preparation and work so that if one day my time comes to be Miss Alabama, I will be even better prepared. I have seen the Lord work in my life through wins and through losses. I welcome them both with open arms because I think the Lord does His best work in us when we are weak, because then He can be our strength.

Something our Miss Alabama 2015, Meg McGuffin, shared with the contestants throughout last week was “the journey is the destination”. That statement did not really click with me until I got home and started thinking about my week at Miss AL. I thought, “Wow, Meg was on point.” Because like I said before, life is ull of seasons. Some are of wins and some are of losses, but there is always something to be gained. Coming home with the crown seemingly was the ultimate goal, but that does not mean every girl there that week did not walk away with something

So if you are out there and maybe you have recently experienced a loss, some type of rejection, or maybe even a break-up, please know there is purpose in the pain. There has to be rain and sunshine for a flower to grow and blossom. Our God is so sovereign and even though you may not feel like it, He has His mighty hand on your life. He is orchestrating future events which you cannot even fathom.

So, chin up, Buttercup. The best is yet to come.
elevator

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18 (NIV)

Also- all of you need to follow Miss Alabama on social media.

Instagram: @MissAmericaAL & @MissAlabamaPageant

Twitter: @MissAmericaAL

Facebook: Miss Alabama Pageant, Inc. & Miss Alabama Hayley Barber

Thank you SO much to AL.com for all the beautiful pictures and their coverage of Miss Alabama week. We are so thankful!

© Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Bailey Kennon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.