Archives for June 2014

When God Says Wait…Then Yes {My Sister is Having a Baby!}

My mom and I take seats beside one another in the hospital waiting room.

My dad is down the hall in ICU. My sister is downstairs having surgery after another miscarriage.

We sit.  We wait. I ride the elevator down and check in with my brother-in-law, Casey.  I ride back up and sit alongside my mom.

There are seasons in life when you can do nothing but look heavenward and ask, Why, Lord?  Why are you taking my dad?  Why did you take another one of my nieces or nephews?  And if you aren’t “doing it,” then why are you allowing it?

That was January 2008.  I still have no answers for the why, but I know the who – Jesus – much better.  I still don’t pretend to know his ways or his whys.

I do know this…

Tomorrow morning, I will take a seat beside my mom in the hospital waiting room once again.  My dad won’t be there, which is bittersweet.  But, this time my sister will not be on the surgical floor: She will be in labor and delivery.

If I am honest, I never thought I’d type those words.

My sister began trying to have a child in 1998.  She’d been married two years and desired nothing more than to be a momma.  She’s also Martha Stewart (minus jail sentences;)

A year later.  No children.

Years pass.  I give birth to a girl and a boy. But none of Dawnna’s pregnancies go past 13 weeks.  It makes no sense.  She uses a calendar, counts days, takes medicine, has procedures, and …nothing except heartache.

In the meantime, she raises my children as her own.  Continues reading about infertility and seeking expert advice.  In some seasons, she gives up. In other seasons, fresh resolve finds her with a new doctor or treatment plan.

All the while, we pray.  She prays. I pray.  Our momma prays.  Churches pray. Friends pray.  We KNOW others are interceding.

She avoids church on Mother’s Day and dreads baby showers. And these barely scratch the surface of the deep heartache each time she loses a child or each time she’s told a procedure isn’t successful.

Then, her high school friend has a sister who works at a doctor near Dawnna’s house {Shew, convoluted!}. This gal, Sarah, does all she can to work Dawnna into the doctor’s schedule, making sure Dawnna has the best care (and discounts for the costly treatment).

Hope rises.

We pray…continually.

It’s 2013. 15 years have passed.  Nothing has worked.  There’s one last round of medicine to take – one more chance to have a child.  Dawnna sits in the doctor’s office, preparing to take the final step – what seems like a final chance to have a child.

While at her doctor’s office to explore this last chance, a high school friend, Billie, notices her, says hello, and  keeps walking but feels God telling her to go back.  To talk to Dawnna.  To tell her that she’s going to have a child.  That she does not need this last round of medicine or this doctor’s help.

She’s going to have a child.

At first, Billie is resistant.  I would have been too.  Who stops and tells an old friend that she feels God is speaking to her heart ….about HER?  That she’s going to have a child when she knows that she’s miscarried over and over.

Yet, on faith, Billie walks out on the limb and finds Dawnna.  She tells her…you’re going to have a child.  Keep praying 1 Samuel.  Don’t go through with this last round of infertility treatment; you don’t need to.  God’s telling my heart you’re going to be a mom.

Dawnna wants to believe, but it’s all a little weird.  She wonders how Billie knows the verse she prays often, but decides to go through with the treatment.

It fails.

Even before this procedure, Casey and Dawnna had decided her body had been through enough.  Enough money had been spent.  Just enough.

So, she sits in the room she’d always thought would be a nursery.  There’s no crib or changing table.  It’s simply a spare room.  And Dawnna prays 1 Samuel aloud…

26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord {years ago}. 27 For this child I prayed,and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1: 26-28

quote on wall

These were the same words Hannah had spoken thousands of years before. In verse 10 she had gone to the temple weeping, asking the Lord to open her womb and give her a son, promising she’d give her son back to the Lord.

Yet, Hannah waited.  For years.

Dawnna waited.  For years.

And, finally, Hannah gives birth to a son, Samuel.

And, finally, Dawnna will give birth to a daughter, Chloe.

dawn front

dawn belly

Less than a month after her prayer in the would-be nursery, God answered yes instead of no or wait.  He filled her womb with a child, a girl.

In 1 Samuel 2:18 the Bible says, But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the LordChapter 2 also says Samuel grew up in God’s presence and grew in favor with the Lord and people.  In Chapter 3, the Bible again says:  Samuel served the Lord.

Samuel served the Lord. 

Tomorrow as I sit beside my mom again in the WAITING room, waiting to meet Chloe, praying for a safe and easy birth for my sister, thanking God for the gift of a child…

I will silently be giving Chloe back to the one who gave her to us.

As you grow, Chloe, I pray we say of you:  But Chloe, though she was only a girl, served the Lord.  She grew up in God’s presence and grew in favor with the Lord and people.  Yes, Chloe served the Lord. 

Because as we each walk on this earth, searching for meaning and purpose.  As we each wait for what will be and let go of what was not.  As we wait upon the Lord to heal or take us home.  As we wait on Him to open our womb or change our hearts.

As we wait.

There is only one thing…one thing that matters in the waiting and in the end.  For Dawnna and Casey.  For Chloe.

They served the Lord.

So as you wait, friend, I pray you love the Lord – and serve Him because you love Him.  Thank Him.  Worship Him.  The answer may be no.  It may be wait.  Or, after 16 years, it may be YES.

And while you wait?  Serve Him.  He loves you more than you can fathom.  He loves you in the no, in the wait, and in the yes.

——————————————————

We can’t wait to meet you, Chloe Grace!

chloe bag

ThanksSarah Gross for loving Dawnna and Casey and doing all you could to help them.

Thanks Billie Harding for taking a step of faith.

Thanks to our mom, Diana,  and our dad, Allen “Pud” Bailey, for loving us unconditionally and raising us “right”:)  We rest in knowing you will meet Chloe someday.

Thanks to each of you who has prayed and prayed.  We are beyond grateful.  Keep praying!

The Stranger and His Son {A Cure for Loneliness on Father’s Day}

It’s Father’s Day.

I am not a fan, especially not this year.

Today feels lonely…and wrong.

On a day normally filled with cookouts and laughter, I find myself alone. I drove to Wheeling for Owen’s baseball game, then waved goodbye as my kiddos left with their dad.  {As it should be.}

My dad is gone; I celebrate him in my heart only.

So.

What does one do with oneself?

I found myself entering Panera for lunch, walking just ahead of a father and his son, who looked about five.

father lead by the hand son

I held the door open, the dad thanking me.  I smiled as I listened to the boy talk to his dad, but I knew before turning that something was “wrong” with the little boy.

His speech wasn’t clear and his conversation skills didn’t match his size.  His dad continually explained to him what they were doing and why.

As we stood in line, the boy grew agitated, and I knew:  He’s autistic.  His sounds weren’t cries exactly…more high-pitched, fearful moans.

The dad spoke patiently to his son, trying to soothe him.

Just a minute. We only need a drink.  It won’t take long.

Except those in front of us were taking FOREVER. The man in front of me kept turning, looking disapprovingly at the boy.  {Evidently thinking his noises were too loud for a restaurant.}

I turned to the little boy and smiled. Knowing that a stranger talking to an autistic child can spell disaster sometimes, I kept my attention to him brief, but I wanted to let the dad know: It’s ok to have him here.

The boy met my eyes and said hi, then resumed his moans now turned squeals.  And then I met the dad’s eyes.  They said, I am sorry.  And I smiled and said….you can go ahead. 

A simple gesture, really.  We’ve all allowed someone with fewer items or restless children to go ahead of us in a line.  But, today…

This dad looked at me with grateful eyes.   He thanked me at the register then again at the drink machine. The sweet little boy stood beside me enthralled as my diet Pepsi ran from the machine into my cup.

Pop,  he said.

 Yes, pop, I replied and smiled.

And he laughed, clutching a bottle of water tightly to his chest as his dad searched for a lid.

His dad turned, thanking me again and out the door they sauntered, hand in hand.

I don’t know this dad.  I will probably never see him again.  But, I am thankful to this patient, loving father for reminding me today {in the midst of my pity party} of my heavenly Father.

The One who allows me to moan and squeal when agitated.  The One who loves me even when others are looking on with disapproval.  The One that smiles when I smile and laughs when I laugh. The One who speaks soothing words as I wait, agitated.  The One who walks hand in hand with me as I walk through each door.

If you’re alone today, I am sorry. I really am.  Whether your dad is gone or living in another place.  Whether you’re divorced or mourning your spouse’s death.

I know you feel lonely.  And in your loneliness, I pray you remember…He is there. Always.  He loves you.

{Happy Father’s Day, Dad…I look forward to the day we once again celebrate together.}

{Happy Father’s Day, Dad in Panera.  You’re doing so well!}

ms mountaineer dad

I Graduated 20 Years Ago {Veering from the Predictable Path}

The class of 1994.

grad announcement

Twenty years since my high school graduation.

I hate to sound like my grandmother, but it seems like yesterday {most days}.

On June 1, 1994, I took my seat as one of three valedictorians at Poca High School.  Dallas, Jason, and I were rebels {sorta}, decorating our caps with a W, a V, and a U for West Virginia University, the college we’d all be attending.

My proud dad tried to tape (VHS!) my valedictory speech, but he’d pressed pause.  He couldn’t see the word on the screen because the words were hidden in the flowers placed on the podium.  Still makes me smile today.

I’ll spare you a 20 year reflection.  Of course, looking back, if you’d have told me I’d be sitting in this seat in 20 years, I’d never have believed you.  My instinct is to say…

Thank God they do not check in with past “Most Likely to Succeed” superlative winners.

Because…

By culture’s standards, I’ve not succeeded.  A year ago…I looked like success {emphasis on the word looked}.  Today, not so much.

Because when you “fail,” you realize your measure of success – the “American dream”  measure of success {Bigger and better.  A big house, nice car.  Perfect family.  Talented children. Insert your own pressures here.} is broken and elusive.

I began to realize this while sitting at On the Border in Columbus, Ohio, with three of my closest friends.  During our conversation about the public education system, I said I was valedictorian and mentioned I took AP Calculus so I could be valedictorian.

My friend, Krysten, looked at me and said, “Why? Why did you want to be valedictorian?” {As if I were crazy;}

And, I had no idea.  I wanted to “beat” the boys.  But, otherwise? Clueless.

My parents didn’t expect it.  I wanted to make them proud in return for all the sacrifices they’d made for me, but they NEVER pressured me to be anything other than their Sarah Beth.

So, why?

Why valedictorian?  College?  Summa cum laude?  Miss Mountaineer?  Marriage? 9 to 5 job?  Children? Master’s Degree?  New career?  Leader?  Homeschooling mom? Stay-at-home mom?  Volunteer here and there and everywhere?

Why?

Is this how God wired me?  Or am I driven by something other than my Creator? {Divine intervention aside as I know He intervened more than once.}

At 38, I decided to sit down and ask…What in the world has driven my decisions for the past 20 years?

{Warning: Don’t ask God a question unless you are SURE you want the answer – HIS answer.}

I asked that question almost two weeks ago. I don’t have all the answers yet, but here’s what I do know….

Expectation can and will drive us when we don’t take time to pray through the next step, especially when we want to “fit in” or “look like everyone else.” And, I didn’t even realize I wanted this.

Yet, I followed the predictable path.

High school.  College.  Marriage.  Children.  {Career optional, but you still need the college degree.}  Raise children.  Go to church.  Serve in the church and community.

And, let me be VERY clear…

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this path.  NOTHING.

Sisters, these life situations we compare and allow to divide us almost always have NOTHING to do with right or wrong; we’re just different, fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator who delights in our uniqueness.  And, I am in this sweet spot with Jesus today because I am allowing Him to guide and direct my life onto a VERY different path – the path He made for me. He wastes nothing.

So, while I will never know which turns I took on the journey that weren’t of Him, what matters is that from this moment forward I seek Him and not what is expected or prescribed by the world.

He is enough.  Anything He adds to your life beyond Him is a gift.

And I don’t know the path now.  I’ve gone from season to season  – almost without thought.

Now… I wait.  Twenty years of living and striving and moving forward didn’t lead to an amazing public relations career or a perfect family. {What I thought I wanted.}

It lead to something better…

sweet times with two beautiful children who are simply fun to talk with…

authentic friendships that are teaching me what it means to be still and focused on Him alone…

a sad realization that I loved the church more than Jesus, so Jesus and I are building again…

a precious niece whom we will welcome to the world in the next few weeks…

and most of all…

A new quiet in my soul beginning to accept that He alone is enough.  That I never want to be trapped again by the world and its expectations.

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” 3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,  “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.   I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods  or take up their names on my lips. 5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16