Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When Victory Doesn't Look Like What We Thought It Would

It is with a sad, humbled and quite honestly confused heart that I write these words.  Today I am dealing with grief and today victory does not look as I feel it should or the way I thought it would.  Who am I to even define victory in the first place, no one really, and I realize that.  I am not the Creator of the universe nor am I the one who holds it all together.  What I am however, is one who looks at life completely differently than the actual Designer of it.  I am limited and my limitations are sometimes incredibly painful.  

I will never wrap my mind around some of the things God does or allows and quite frankly it is hard to learn how to be okay with that.  Today a precious woman in my life was taken and an even more precious woman to me is grieving as her mother is no longer by her side.  A diagnosis was made far away in Kenya, funds were raised in a miraculous way within 2 days amounting to $15,000 and it was all for a woman who lives her life in full surrender to the Lord...daily.  She saves young girls and their babies, she rescues the hopeless from poverty and she shares Jesus with anyone in her presence.  She has already lost her sister, her young nephew and her uncle. She is a mighty warrior for our God.  Surely she deserves His mercy upon her mother.  Right? And so my limitations begin.

My limited vision tempts me to see only from a human perspective. It allows me to believe that her healing would be the victory.  Healing is what we all prayed for and for some reason because of the circumstances listed above I believed it would happen with my whole heart. Therefore the blow of what happened is even more harsh.  The reality is that healing is not where victory is to be found.  Victory is to be found in the truth that Jesus came, He lived, He died, He rose again and out of His great mercy and love coupled with our surrender and acceptance of this great gift we NEVER have to die.  The grave has been conquered! This precious mom is not dead as we think, she is for the first time FULLY alive!   

I can hear the Amen chorus as I typed those words and rightfully so.  But isn't the truth that in our humanness we still want the physical healing?  The joy to be found in Christ conquering the grave is hard to grasp.  Honestly, I think we want something more tangible than that, at least I know I do.  I believed throughout this time that the great testimony would be in her healing and God's name would be lifted high.  He would show Himself to so many people in this way.  What I didn't see coming was that the testimony was not going to be in the healing as I thought but rather it was going to be in the unshakable faith of this tiny, grief filled beautiful Kenyan as she praises the God who just took her mother.

So today as I grapple with this grief and this concoction of complete healing and restoration mixed with devastating loss, I am keenly aware that I do not know God like I should.  I love Him, I follow Him and yet I still do not know Him as I should.  What I have realized is that I do not want my prayers to be limited with things that God can do for me and I do not want to treat God as if He is a magic genie in a bottle who should succumb to my wishes.  What I want is majority of my prayer time to be spent in fellowship with Him growing my relationship, learning more of who He is, listening to His voice and seeking His will. I want to be like Paul and give thanks for ALL things.  I want more of God's perspective, I want to embrace His definition of victory and quite simply, I just want more of Him.   

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Story, his Story and HIS story

For quite some time now I have not been writing.  Honestly, I have gotten to a place where I have so much to share in regards to my story and the perfectionist side of me (which thankfully doesn't rear it's ugly head too often anymore) just could never decide which direction to go first. After a wonderful conversation with some friends this morning I have decided to simply cut to the chase and share one of the biggest pieces.  There are parts of me that didn't want to share this particular part, but at the end of the day I find it necessary.  If you've noticed from my previous blogs I never mentioned my ex husband's name, mainly out of respect.  If you've read my blogs you would also likely wonder why I would be concerned about respecting such a man, a man that was violent and abusive.  For starters, that is simply not who I am nor is it who my heart will allow me to be. My heart cannot go in the direction of hate because I am a follower of Christ.  That is not who He is and that is not who I am to be if I want to be anything like Him, which I very much do.

You see, my ex husband is no longer on this earth.  His life ended in November 2007.  It was cancer that killed him and cancer that also gave him life.  It is for this very reason that I am sharing his story, along with his identity.  There are so many details that I could intertwine in this story and it is difficult for me to write and not feel as if I am leaving a billion things out.  Bare with me in that, I may very well fill in the gaps later.  How our connection rekindled many years later is an amazing story in itself.  It was not by luck or by coincidence as many may think but rather it was by Divine intervention.  Again, so many details.  

At the end of the day, my ex husband has a story to tell, a story worth hearing.  Was he a man of many sins? Yes. Was he a man once filled with rage and violence? Yes.  Is that where his story ends? No. His story doesn't end in a grave.  His story also lives on in a beautiful daughter, he once gave up.  His legacy, as seedy and horrid as it once was has been changed.  Redemption has been found!  I will let his story speak for itself.  

Below please find posted the articles of my ex husbands journey.  Gaps will be there but I pray the main points will be found.  Please also stay with me below for more reading.,1797576

As our paths crossed one final time I was requested to be the one to speak at his funeral.  Seems odd I know, but even more odd, it was one of the greatest privileges I ever received. To provide love and forgiveness for a man who deserved none of it.  As a follower of Christ there is no higher honor.

His Eulogy

Some of you may know me but many of you may not. I am Dwayne’s ex wife and probably the last one any of you would expect to be speaking tonight.  But if there’s one person, aside from Kristina, who saw and knew the worst and best of Dwayne, it was me.  And tonight, I want to share with you the best and I also want to share Dwayne’s heart with you.

We’ve all read the newspaper and we are aware of Dwayne’s past, much by his own admission. We’ve also all made mistakes in our lives but I think if Dwayne were here he’d say he had most of us beat. 

The years I spent with Dwayne were obviously not very good ones.  He always  had a problem with anger, drinking and drugs, but beyond all of that, I believe his biggest challenge in life was himself.  You see, every time Dwayne messed up in his life is all I ever saw in him was pain and disappointment.  He hated who he was sometimes, sometimes so much so that he would just choose to run away from everything.  I also watched him fight like crazy to change and for years I also watched him fail.  His problem was, he was always fighting in his own strength.

Like I said before, everyone knew the old Dwayne. The Dwayne that always looked out for himself alone, but tonight, I want to make sure you all know and remember the real Dwayne.  The self-less man who died fighting for his wife and daughter. The compassionate man who loved his family endlessly. And the fear less man who looked cancer in the face and boldly fought on.

You see, one of the first conversations I had with Dwayne once we re-connected he shared with me his story.  He was trying so hard to get his life in order and to begin living right since his diagnosis.  He shared that the first step he took was to attend church.  He then went on to tell me about one particular Sunday.  On this day he said he sat in church and it was as if no one else was around him. It seemed as if the pastor was speaking just to him.  He said in that moment he knew he needed to surrender his life to Christ. He was done fighting in his own strength and he knew he needed the Lords.  In that moment of surrender his life changed forever. His cancer was no longer terminal for his life would then become eternal.

From then on every conversation we had was about God.  His words astounded me, so much so that I even wrote many of them down.  To hear the man who battled such anger for so long say “ For the first time in my life I can lay my head on my pillow at night and rest because I know I’m forgiven.”  That just amazed me, but what’s even more amazing is that I understood exactly what he meant.  My life was never much better than his, but 7 years ago when I surrendered my own life to Christ I too understood what it was like to finally rest.

He also said “ For the first time in my life I want to get up in the morning.”  Now remember, this is coming from a man with cancer, a painful cancer at that.  That kind of sustaining and joy can only come from the Lord.  Is all Dwayne wanted was, in his own  words, “to tell his story to everyone he came into contact with.”  He truly wanted the world to know all that God had done in his life.

I realize many of you many not have gotten to see this transformation in Dwayne and I also know many of you may be a bit skeptical, but let me stand before you as a woman who knew his worst side and tell you, I’ve seen it and I believe it.  God has transformed my own life as well and I will never underestimate His power.

I also know many of you are questioning God right now and wondering why this happened.  Let me offer you this…God will allow what He hates to accomplish what He loves.  Yes, God hates cancer and suffering but He loves salvation and changed lives.  Cancer, as nasty as it is, is the very thing that saved Dwayne’s life and I know he was grateful for it.

I know Dwayne did not die a perfect man but I also know he did die a forgiven one.  I also know how many regrets he had but in speaking with him, his biggest regret by far was not coming to know the Lord 20 years ago.  It then became his burden to go forward and share the unconditional love of God that he found with everyone whom he knew.  Sadly, his time was cut please, allow me to stand in the gap and tell all of you whom he knew and dearly loved. Don’t wait like he did. Give your life over to the very One who created you.  Dwayne would tell you, it’s the best decision you’ll ever make.

In closing, I will share with you what Dwayne said “ If I die today I am so grateful to have been able to live for even this short amount of time knowing the Lord. I want to share Him for the rest of my life.”

And today, I believe he did just that.

Dwayne, you will always live on in our hearts and be remembered as a strong man who fought for his wife and daughter, as a compassionate , self-less man who set his own needs aside and as an example of what it means to truly live. This world will miss you greatly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


It was September of 2000 and had been about a month since our family first began to attend church.  Each Sunday we brought along a chubby adorable 3yr old toddler, a delicate shy 4yr old princess and a fiesty, spunky, chatter box of a 9yr old.  Our family time was increasing and Sundays were indeed turning out to be good days.  In fact, they were so good that we even attended church on Wednesday.  Granted, there was food involved and that meant no cooking for me, so it really wasn't a hard sell. It even turned out that it would be a Wednesday night sitting around your typical fellowship hall table having dinner that would soon change our lives.

My husband, who is quite the entertainer and has a larger than life personality has always been an actor and singer.  He's actually quite amazing. For months leading up to our church attendance I had begun to feel bad because my husband had this great talent and was not able to use it.  My first thoughts were for him to look into community theatres or just find some form of an acting outlet.  This however required research and was long before the days of Google.  In other words, it didn't happen.

Now, going back to this one Wednesday night.

There we sat, enjoying our dinner and meeting new people.  The first man we met happened to be the music pastor, Jay. One of his first questions to my husband was asking him if he sang.  The answer was yes with an explanation of his theater degree in college.  One thing led to another and before we left that night my husband had the role of Maxwell, a lead character in a play called The Christmas Post.  This was a character Jay was originally playing but instead he turned it over to my husband.  

Weeks filled with practices rolled by.  No one even knew who we were and in fact, most thought Chris was a hired actor.  I, on the other hand, being totally talentless was quickly becoming known as Maxwell's wife, and honestly I was completely okay with that. As weeks went by and my husband got deeper and deeper into the role of his character he soon realized how similiar he and Maxwell were.  Not so much in personality but rather in their similar void of hope.  You see, Maxwell was the turn around character.  He was the man of no faith with only the world to blame for his struggles. He was a man who looked after himself, a man without God. A man that later entered into a relationship with the Lord. 

In the midst of the late night practices, my husband's silent struggle with his character and the nearing play, life was pressing in.  It was one evening as the cast was wrapping up and closing in their usual time of prayer that Jay, the music minister stopped mid sentence in the middle of his prayer.  He began to verbalize a new prayer, he shared a strong sense that there was someone in the room that needed to know God.  He spoke it openly and briefly and then went on to continue to pray.  Within a minute Jay was right back to that moment once again sharing a strong sense that there was someone there who really needed to know the Lord.  It was a sense that he was unable to let go of.  He finally closed and wrapped up the time of prayer announcing himself as being available in his office.  My husband mulled around waiting and watching for the man Jay was praying about to come forward, despite knowing that he, himself was the man.  Sure enough, one by one everyone left leaving only my husband.  The sureity of the calling could not have been more clear, and with that and tears in his eyes he walked into Jay's office and simply said, "It's me".

My precious husband came home that night and shared his heart with me.  He told me of his time of prayer with Jay as he was led to surrender his life to Christ.  Just like Maxwell, he was tired of the running and the searching for something more.  For once in his life, he found the answer, or moreso, the Answer found him. As he went on to share with me I could tell that there was nothing more he wanted than for me to have the same hope he now had.  Then, for the very first time as a couple, we prayed and I too surrendered my life to Christ.  

From that day on my husband has been an amazing spiritual leader.  His knowledge and wisdom is incredible.  His love for me and for the Lord is unwavering. I, on the other hand had a different journey. I clearly recall my prayer of surrender and faith being combined with a prayer of unsurity.  I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to love the Lord like I love my husband and because of that my prayer went something like this, "Lord, I will trust you but please don't dissapoint me".  Not the most Biblically aligned prayer, but it was genuine and it came from a very real place in my heart.  I was just so scared to trust anyone except for myself and my husband and I knew that I just couldn't handle any more disappointment.  Little did I know that that moment of surrender would mean that I was going to have to release my husband from being my savior in exchange for placing Jesus in that position.  The Lord was soon going to create in me a complete dependence upon Him.  The task I had to face was simply too big for mere man....even for my savior of a husband. 


Saturday, October 27, 2012


Life was moving along fairly well, in fact very well considering what I was previously used to.  I now had my diploma, I had my three beautiful kids and a loving husband.  We were homeowners and we both had decent jobs.  However despite all of these things, there was a problem.  No matter how much we seemed to have, it never seemed to be enough to make me anything other than momentarily happy.  I look back on these years and like to think that we were happy and that I was a good wife, and to a certain point we were and I was.  Loving my husband was never a problem but it seemed seeing the truth was. 

I had a husband who loved me so much and was nothing short of amazing and yet he still wasn't enough.  All of these years, I longed to be in the exact place in life that I was.  I longed for this place because this was the place where my hurts were to be healed, my joy was to be restored and peace would enter in, yet for some reason this wasn't happening.  My expectations were not being fulfilled.  No matter how great my husband was I still found myself constantly aggravated with a desire to fight.  I suppose some of that may have been self protecting to push him away before he did me, but I believe it honestly was more me being mad because despite having the life I dreamed of I still wasn't happy.   

My husband was a saint, at least in my eyes, but I could be so mean and get so easily frustrated.  I constantly snapped and was overwhelmed all the time.  I developed this perfectionistic lifestyle where everything had to be just so, and having 3 young children in the house made that nothing short of impossible.  I basically was setting myself up to fail, I just didn't realize it.  I really believed that if I could perfect things then all would be well.  This could not have been farther from the truth.  There was no organizational skill, no body size, no amount of cleanliness that I could achieve that would help me find the contentment in life I was looking for.  The joy of perfection would last only a moment before I had to chase after it again. I was caught in a never ending cycle....hence all of my frustration.

In between, we really had some great moments.  Like I said, I had and still do have tremendous love for my husband and my children.  We've always played, vacationed and had fun together (well, at least until something made me upset).  Honestly, I believe  it was that tremendous love that we shared that always left me discontent.  Not because I didn't enjoy it but because I had a deep desperation for more of it.  I had such a great void and I so desired my husband to fill it.  The only problem was, he couldn't.

Our marriage continued for about 5 years and we went on many emotional rollercoasters. I continued to seek out more and more of my husband and my children trying in an attempt to fill that void in my life.  I kept hoping that a little would go a long way and yet it never did.  As quickly as I was filled, I was emptied.  In my search for more family time I even brought up the idea of going to church.  I thought it would be a great thing to go to church together and then enjoy lunch afterwards.  It would be a scheduled family day.  By now, I had well trained my husband to not rock the boat, so he got on board quickly.  As desperate as I was for him to love me more, he was equally desperate to do so.  In fact, he still is. 

So with that, we were off to church! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Smart Enough

Here I am, newly married, Alicia newly adopted, first home bought, my past behind me (well, mostly for now), life is settling down and it is good.  I am working, my husband is working, bills are being paid, Alicia is stinkin' adorable and yet there is still something unsettling, something left uncompleted. I was having a hard time ignoring it and at the same time I was so afraid of dealing with it.

So, let me take you back....
I'm a 15 year old girl midway through 10th grade.  My life is spiraling out of control for several reasons, some which will be revealed later.  But for now, let's just say I was missing quite a bit of school.  On top of everything else, I am suddenly finding myself in the middle of a health crisis which resulted in missing even more school.  Long story short, the decision was made for me to drop out of high school in the middle of my sophmore year. 

Obviously this was not a good decision.  Previously, I was an honor role student with a knack and love for writing, but the more time went on I lost that confidence.  I went from being a good student to one who felt so inept and so far behind that catching up didn't even seem like an option.  I wanted so badly to stay and catch up but I also wanted to end all of the failing I was doing...with my grades and my life.  So, it was settled, I was to become a high school drop out before the age of 16. 

Life got scrambled up some more but I always managed to hang on.  I moved out, got a job and held on by the skin of my teeth (if you missed this part of my life please feel free to go back and read previous posts  I tried to pretend the best I could that life was going well but I always knew it never was.  I was young, I was naive and I had to come to terms with the fact that I was also a quitter.  I seemed to quit a lot in my life but it never set well with my spirit.  No matter how long it took me I always managed to fight and pick myself back up.

Fast Forward to my newly married life…. 

Yes, I was working, I was a homeowner and a mom, but one thing I was not was a high school graduate.  This was soon to change.  I made the terrifying decision to not just get a GED but instead to go back and complete school.  Yes friends, at the age of 24 I re-entered the 10th grade.  No, I didn’t walk into school but I did receive all of my books at home and started working my tail off.  I literally home schooled myself.  It proved to be very difficult and humbling.  I cannot explain what goes through your mind and emotions when you are trying to grasp a 10 grade math problem at the age of 24 and are struggling with it.  I felt like an idiot, I felt as if my incompetence was being thrown in my face and I shed many tears.  I wanted to quit at least 100 times but never did.  In the end, I managed to work, be a mom, go through another grueling pregnancy and within a couple of years and a baby on my hip, I became a high school graduate.  Against all odds, I graduated!!

Here I sit today, sometimes still feeling stupid or incompetent just like I did at the age of 15.  I also realize there is no making up the years that I missed growing my mind as a teenager, and to be honest, that is a painful truth. However despite how I may feel at times, I allow the truth to speak louder than my emotions.  I know I’m not as dumb as I feel and at the end of the day I do have a diploma.  The crazy thing is, I not only have one diploma but I have two and am working on my third!  Yes, friends I am almost finished with my Master’s degree and am incredibly humbled and yet at the same time incredibly proud that I did it.  I actually did it!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Choice of a Father

It was just a mere few months into our marriage when one of the best things in the world happened. I had experienced my best day just a few months before and now Alicia was about to have hers.  March16th was her day, the day she officially and legally became a Bailey.  
Alicia Lauren Bailey

Despite the immense joy of that day and the dramatic way it changed Alicia's life, I don't even think it is a day she remembers.  As far as she knew, this day was really not going to change anything in her life aside from making something she already believed legal. In her eyes, her daddy has always been her daddy.  He has loved her from the very first day he met her and he made sure he let her know it.   I will always remember the transition she made as this sweet little girl who toddled around calling out to Mr. Chris then to Daddy Chris and then to simply Daddy. 
I am so grateful that despite the beginnings of our life together (you can read all about it on a previous post ) she was now going to have the life that she deserved.  A life where she was cherished, adored and always had an open lap to climb upon.  She would never grow up and question whether or not she was loved.  She would always be told she was beautiful and reminded of the preciousness of her sweet little dimple.  Butterfly kisses and "whiskers" would always be lavished upon her and there would never be a shortage of feet larger than hers to stand upon as she danced through the house.  Swinging over curbs between the hands of two people who adored her and being thrown into the air and caught every single time would now become normal parts of her memories.   
The most beautiful thing of all of this is that it wasn't necessary.  My husband did not have to adopt her to be all of those things to her.  She was his daughter he dearly loved long before the adoption ever took place.  Legal papers couldn't possibly change that. The sad fact is, she once was abandoned by another, however it was to be a pain that she was never going to know because her daddy never left her side. Sure, things could have gone on without the adoption ever taking place, with the difference of only one thing, one really big thing. Adoption is a choice.  It is a choice that was made where the heart of my husband said to Alicia "I choose you.  I want to be in relationship with you as your father and you as my child.  I choose you to be my daughter".  He didn't adopt her out of obligation, he adopted her because he chose to.  She was simply that precious to him.  Every little girl and even big ones too, long for that kind of love.  The kind of love that says, I know I don't have to, I know you may not feel you deserve it but I still choose you. I will love you, protect you, fight for you and never leave your side.  There are no sweeter words and there is no greater blessing than a Father choosing his child and vowing to love her forever. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

October 8th, 1994

October 8th, 1994 turned into being the best day of my life and currently still holds the same title.  This was the day I married Chris Bailey.  After a beautiful proposal on a beachfront boardwalk in Vero Beach, FL I said yes, or maybe it was a little more like YES!!!!!  We chose October 8th because it was the anniversary of my grandparents whom I dearly loved. He gave me the most perfect ring.  I would have accepted far less but he still chose to give me a ring that he felt I deserved.  This was only to be the beginning of him showing his love for me.  

I am still in awe today that a man of my husband's caliber would have chosen me.  I understand that as many of you know me today you might think we are much more of an equal match, but that was far from the truth back on this day. To be honest, I never understood what he saw in me and I certainly didn't feel I had anything to offer him.  In large, almost all of who I am now I owe to the man who promised to love me forever and meant it, on that day 18 years ago.

I never made it easy on him.  I loved him with all my heart, but I still never made it easy. Mostly, because I didn't know how.  I expected him to meet all of my emotional needs, I expected him to pay the price for those who went before him and hurt me, I expected him to fix the entire broken mess that was my life, and when he couldn't, I got really upset. And yet, he still chose to marry me and devote his entire life to me.  Oh, I can't wait to tell you more about this but I would really be skipping too far ahead, so instead I will go on to tell you about this beautiful day.

We were married in a magnificant church and had an amazing reception at a yacht club.  I could not have asked for a better wedding.  My friends walked faithfully by my side and Alicia was the most adorable flower girl ever.  She wore a mini wedding dress and loved every minute of it.  I use to love to watch our wedding video, otherwise known as "The Princess Mommy" movie according to my little girls. It was a spectacular day, and I am so grateful for the memories of it through photos and video.  The video reminds me of the beauty of the day, but it also reminds me of how far I've come.  As I watch the video, specifically as we recited our vows, I can't help but notice our eyes.  His were fixed on mine and mine were unwilling to allow them to be.  I was so happy that he loved me and chose me and yet I was so insecure and felt so unworthy.  Sadly, my eyes showed  every ounce of this.  As he stared directly into my face, I would break eye contact after only a few seconds.  I could only receive mere fragments of the love he had for me.  One glimpse at a time was all I could soak in before I turned away. It is such a sad and yet beautiful thing to watch.  A groom with such a passion to love his bride and a bride who felt so unworthy of receiving it.  This would be our marital dance for many many years.  Him stepping forward, me stepping back. 

This was also a precious day because not only was my husband commiting his life to me but he was doing the same to Alicia.  He looked at her with the same eyes he looked at me with.  Eyes that said I love you more than anything in this world.  The only difference was that she could maintain his gaze and trust it completely as I simply could not. 

It took no time at all for her to become a daddy's girl.  He made that really easy. I remember the sweetest moment at the end of our wedding as we prepared to leave for our honeymoon.  Alicia stood there in her pretty little dress with beautiful hair that had fallen from her updo and was left in long curls.  There she stood with tears streaming down her face.  I bent down and asked her what was wrong.  She wrapped her arms tightly around us both and answered in broken words through her tears saying how much she was going to miss us .  We hugged her back and told her that it was okay because we would be home in a week.  In an instant her tears broke and her joy returned as she looked up and said "Oh, you're coming back?" This sweet little child thought we were leaving her and never returning. You can't imagine the peace in my heart as I could assure her that no, Alicia, we're not leaving you, not now, not ever.