Thursday, April 29

Our Love Story

I've had several friends ask if I would share "our story" of how God brought Dwight and I together. So here you go!. I'm sorry it is SO lengthy!  I'll work on condensing it. Maybe when the kids are all grown and I have LOTS of spare time. ;-) It is my prayer that it would be a blessing and encouragement to trust the Lord in all things. It has been a happy reminder to me even as I've typed it out! 

My prayer for you is that you may still have more love–a love that is full of knowledge and wise insight. I want you to be able always to recognize the highest and the best, and to live sincere and blameless lives until the day of Jesus Christ. I want to see your lives full of true goodness, produced by the power that Jesus Christ gives you to the praise and glory of God. - Philippians 1:9 (J.B. Phillips)
I had always wanted to fall in love with a wonderful man, marry him for happily ever after, and raise fun-loving kids. We would live in a cute cottage of a home with a big yard and an energetic yellow lab named Penelope. Or something like that. :-P

As I got older I prayed that the Lord would keep heart solely for my future husband.  I had no desire to date around and I was committed to this thing called courtship (and also was sure it would be easy). What I soon realized was that the Lord wanted to give me more than simply a husband - He wanted me to learn more of Him, for me to gain a fuller picture of His sovereignty, and to realize in a fuller way His deep love for me. I needed to learn that I could trust His plans for me, and to believe that whatever paths He led me on... they were good. 

A couple years before I met Dwight, I met someone who became a close friend (i.e., we were courting and I'm sad to say even shared "I love you's" and such ~ *please* girls, share words and touch for the one you have vowed to grow old with!) and I thought was God's best for me. Instead my heart was left broken, and I was very confused. I wanted someone whom I could trust, whose life would match what they said, and who would honor and desire purity as I did.  It just wasn't God's time for that yet - He had better plans in mind! In questioning why God let me go through that pain, I learned of His grace; in wondering who I really was and not just who others wanted me to be, I learned more about who I am "In Christ." And He gave me opportunities to pursue dreams. I spent time at the piano, went back to working for a ministry, became part of a fantastic church, met some amazing people, was able to travel and do mission work (Canada, Mexico, Russia, England & Turkey), and be with my family. I still desired marriage, but was secretly petrified about the whole "falling in love part." I was terrified that I would once again be told "I love you" by someone and then they would turn into someone who would live a lie and try to manipulate and condemn me. I didn't know if I could take that! The Lord in His mercy though kept showing me various scriptures which would confirm that He had truly placed that desire within me, verses about how He delights in me, and also then speaking to my heart through conversations with friends, and messages I'd hear. He reminded me how I was His, how much I was loved, and how He saw me as a woman of worth because He filled me. How precious he became to me!

And then.... :-D 

I didn't expect for Dwight to be the one God had for me. I respected him, but I couldn't say that I knew him well at all, even though we chatted from time to time and we worked for the same ministry. I knew that he liked John Piper books, had spent his summers doing missions work, had graduated from PCC, was good at soccer and ultimate frisbee, wrote emails that showed a depth of thought and great punctuation, wasn't overwhelmed at what people thought of him, knew Mr. Stephens, that his eyes twinkled when he laughed or smiled, and oh yeah... his Dad owned a car dealership in MO. (Or at least that is what I thought... he had a sticker on his car that said his car was from the Bailey dealership in Willow Springs, and I thought that they were probably arch rivals with where my car had come from in Mountain Grove. Come to find out... they are *not even be related* to those Baileys and his dad is actually an accountant. I guess that is what one gets for assuming. :-P) 
I thought that I would be one of the last people on earth that Dwight would ever take an interest in. After all, I had friends up in finance with whom I could unwind when I was up there.... so we would giggle up a storm and more than once I had knocked over a file organizer when I'd leaned against it. Yup. He wouldn't be interested in a blonde/ redheaded ditz. :-P It was never even something that I'd entertained. I had no idea that I kept coming up in his thoughts. But he was busy completing his Master's degree so he tried to not dwell on it. 

Things started happening in the fall of 2007 and I was completely unaware. I remember returning from a nursing course and going up to the finance office to chat with my friend Rachel. I had forgotten that she was out of town. Upon opening the door (the office was on the third floor of a smaller building), there was Dwight at the copier, with a huge grin on his face. I  thought "Wow, the copier must not be having issues today!" He was thinking, "Wow! Beth's back!"

Over the next month, Dwight prayed and sought counsel from his parents and some close friends about what to do. Should he even pursue me? He was sure that he didn't have a chance and even thought that I was already "taken." He was asked to return after the holidays to get the organization ready for audit, but was apprehensive about that. What if I wasn't interested? He packed up so that he could leave and not stick around and make things awkward for me if that was my answer. And then he tried to catch me alone so that he could ask me if I'd enter a relationship with him. MUCH easier said than done. Poor guy. There were always others around, and when he tried to call me on the cell phone, I never picked up. (Reason: his number always came up as unavailable. I had been warned that unavailable could mean a jail inmate was trying to hook their phone up with my line to make free calls. [Not quite what was happening. At all.]) Although he had never dated anyone, courtship was a new concept to him,  and I sure wasn't making it easy. :-P

So we both go to our separate homes for Christmas. He didn't have my email, so he messaged me on Facebook (we weren't even friends on it at that point) to simply ask for my Dad's phone number, but I was on "vacation" ... so I had no intention of even getting on the internet. :-D Oops. Thankfully, my brothers asked me to get online to check something for them, and while waiting for them to come to the computer I decided to just check my inbox. (It had been a few days already since Dwight had written me.) Was I ever in for a surprise! I seriously did not know why in the world Dwight would want my dad's number. I remember thinking (I'm being honest here!) that he was probably wanting to talk to my dad about tractors or something (my Dad is an Operating Engineer/ Mechanic), but called Katie up to the computer to check it out. She and my mom guessed Dwight's real intentions. :-) 

A few days later he spoke with my dad, and was given permission to ask me if I would to court him.
About a week later Dwight and I were both heading back to work. I needed to work switchboard until the office technically "opened" which necessitated being back right away. I was a little excited, quite a bit apprehensive, and absolutely scared as I waited for Dwight to call me. When he did, he didn't quite get what he expected. I told him I didn't want to court someone unless I was good friends with them first. I needed to feel "safe"  before I would even consider opening my heart. So we had to become friends... but didn't know exactly how that was going to happen. We couldn't spend time doing activities together, we worked in separate offices, and even though my director knew about Dwight's interest in me, we couldn't court while we both worked there anyways.

So for five months we spoke on the phone, getting to know more about each other. At first Dwight called two times a week and we'd talk for an hour or so. I just knew that it was God's will for us to be friends and I enjoyed talking with Dwight, discovering things we had in common, discussing theology and things we had heard, just sharing about life! That time was really hard for each of us. Dwight had no idea about what I really thought about him, or if we would ever have a relationship beyond friendship. He just knew that I'd answer the phone when he called - so he kept calling. :-) And I was turmoil and knots on the inside. The Lord kept confirming that he had marriage for me through various Scriptures and messages at church, but I had no peace about giving my heart to someone again. I was petrified about being hurt again. Could I trust Dwight and ultimately God? I didn't know, I couldn't think straight or clearly and I was tired. I'd keep waking up sobbing as I'd have memories swirling in my head about when my heart had been broken previously and all the pain that still hadn't been healed or removed. I wanted God to just take the hurt away, to help me to think clearly, but He still had more to teach me. I felt guilty talking to Dwight though - because even thought I enjoyed our friendship so very much, I knew Dwight desired more, and I couldn't give it yet. I felt like I was taking advantage of him. And that thought sickened me. 

Our conversations grew in length and frequency. I remember one weekend in March talking with Dwight and asking him how long he was going to keep calling. How long he was willing to wait until I could give him an answer. It was on that day that Dwight thought it was all over. I on the other hand got off the phone and cried because I realized then that Dwight truly loved me and was trying with all his might to simply leave my heart in God's hands. As the month went on, the Lord continued healing me and I stopped having the nightmares. The pain was diminished, but I still wondered if Dwight truly was the one for me. 

In mid- June I was off in Istanbul helping with a missions conference. Although the mornings and evenings were very busy, I was grateful for quiet afternoons during which I could get alone and walk along the sea, swim in the pool, read, think, and pray. (Okay, I would also IM and email Dwight as I was able! I missed him and it seemed as if everything brought him to mind!) And then one blessed afternoon God's voice through Scripture was crystal clear. Dwight WAS the one He had for me and I felt a complete peace and freedom to give Dwight my heart. 

I went into the lobby of the hotel where the conference was being held and got on IM. (It was morning back in Chicago.) I was just chatting away with Dwight (the poor guy still had no clue about the peace God had given me concerning him!) when one of the MKs came up to me and asked why I was smiling so big at my computer. :-) I told her I was writing with my "boyfriend", but that obviously wasn't a term she understood (she was French), so I restated that I was writing my "sweetheart." Well, she understood that one and went running off to find her friends with a huge grin on her face! I actually told Dwight about the incident after she left (I'm still shocked that I actually told him!), he was very excited to discover that I not only thought he was nice - I had actually told someone that he was my sweetheart! :-)

The weekend after I got back to the states he drove me home so that we could spend the day with my family (my family lived a little over an hour from where we worked), and then on the 4th of July he came again to spend more time with all of us. He had been recently hired by a ministry in Colorado Springs. The morning he was to leave our house I asked him if he was still wanting to know If I would court him. He said he was but that didn't want to rush me. Our courtship officially began that day! We were so happy. When the Lord gives certain confirmation the peace that comes is incredible! 

Up until this time our phone conversations had been increasing in length and frequency but after the 4th we began to talk daily. He would call me over his lunch break, and then we'd talk in the evenings. It wasn't unusual to talk for up to 8-10 hours, we would never run out of things to discuss! He also began shopping for a ring... he would  say he would be calling me a bit later than usual because he had some "errands" to do. I hadn't a clue and thought he was picking up groceries and cleaning supplies. He was wanting to fly in and surprise me, but then one day I casually informed him that I was going to be out of town on a certain weekend, not knowing that he was wanting to come then! I still wasn't making things easy for him... though I wasn't aware of what I was doing! So then he asked if I would mind if he came and visited me over Labor Day weekend. Well, it sounded wonderful to me! And even though my whole family (extended included!) knew that he was going to propose, I didn't. So I guess it was still kind of a surprise! :-) 

He proposed on Saturday, after we had spent a fun day with family and hiking. I felt awful (thanks to allergies and something else!) so I was seriously out of it thanks to the medicine I had taken. Since I wasn't up to taking a walk like he had hoped, we just sat in the living room and talked. I remember laughing at one point about how out of it I was and told him that he couldn't hold me to anything I said that night! After awhile of chatting Dwight reached into his bag (I wondered what in the world he was doing) pulled out a small box and asked me if I would marry him and be his - I was so excited! I don't *exactly* remember this (thank you meds!), but he claims I stared at him and repeatedly asked if he was really serious for the next 30 minutes. Then I surprised him by giving him a big hug and saying yes! (We hadn't so much as shaken hands up to this point - so hugging was wonderful - I admit it!, and I hadn't even glanced at the gorgeous ring he had chosen for me!) After a bit I  put my beautiful ring on my hand and just grinned at my hand and at him. We were both thrilled beyond happy! At breakfast the next morning my face hurt from smiling in my sleep. :-)  

A busy twelve weeks later we were married (November 22nd) surrounded by friends and family in a beautiful ceremony which we prayed would be God-honoring. It was so sweet to pledge our lives to each other before God and for us each to share our first kiss there! It was our desire to glorify the Lord through our lives and our marriage and that desire now continues into the precious little family which He has so graciously blessed us with! 

I grow more in love with my wonderful Dwight each and every day. We are not perfect, but we are perfect for each other and I am honored to spend each day and evening with my best friend! I am daily just blown away by his sweetness to me, his honor for me, and just his brilliant-handsome-fun loving self! He is a true man of God and an excellent leader and provider for us. We love each other deeply and are committed to each other for the rest of our lives. We know that the Lord will continue to Guide us as we seek Him, and will give us grace to face every joy and trial. 
It is definitely a wonderful life for these Baileys! :-D

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

Woohoo, off I go!

Our girlie is on the move. :-) She loves to hold on to our hands and walk, and can now pull herself up to standing and even cruise a bit! She is a lot of fun. :-) Except she has two teeth right about to pop out (C'mon teeth! Quit agonizing all of us!), and no amount of pain relief is helping. Poor baby!

She also seems to have some Canadian/ English influence. ;-) I'm "Mum." :-)  (Hehe... she's looking a bit vicious, isn't she? She really does give sweet hugs! :-) )

Tuesday, April 27

Homemade Yogurt

Personally, I kind of like just having one car for our family. I find it so freeing to just be home, and I don't feel "stuck" at all. I think that idea is so funny. :-P Sure, it means I can't just hop in to go visiting or shopping, but I can still have people over, and I'm sure it saves us a lot of money. I do like to shop. :-D 
I love how it gives me more time to play with Chloe, work on the house (wish that translated into the apt. being clean, but it doesn't. I have a frightful pile of dishes and the bathroom is kinda yucky. Both are on the agenda for today! hehe!), read (though God's Word and then a bunch of other books and magazines), and discover some amazing websites that have been a huge blessing to me!
It is from such websites that I came across this amazing way to make home-made yogurt in the crock-pot. It is seriously so easy that I'm excited just thinking about it! Chloe and I can go though LOTS of this yumminess, so it helps that it is so much cheaper to make it at home, and healthy too! :-) 

(Recipe found/adapted from Passionate Homemaking and Nourishing Days)

1/2 gallon of whole milk (I like to use Stonyfield or Organic Valley - Organic Whole Milk)
1/2 C. of plain full-fat yogurt (I've used Stonyfield and Brown Cow) - at room temperature
A Crock-pot
An empty room-temp oven
A large towel
A plastic or wooden spoon

Here is what I did: 
*Poured the milk into the crock-pot, put the lid on, and turned it to High for 2 1/2 hours. 
*Turned it off, unplugged it, and let it sit for 2 hours to cool down a bit. 
*Gently stirred in the yogurt. Took the ceramic crock-pot base out of the heater thing, wrapped it in the towel and put towel and all into the oven. I let it culture in there for 10 hours. 
*Put it in the fridge. I'm thinking this is what kills any harmful bacteria that might be present. (But I'm not an expert.) I like to leave it there for at least 5 hours. 
*There may be some whey (yellow-clearish liquid, was about 1/2 cup for me) on top of the settled cream. I like to just pour this off and use it in baking or something, or I just dump it. It helps make the yogurt just a tad thicker. Stir gently to mix in the cream top.
*Makes 2 quarts of yogurt that is just as delicious as Stonyfield's Organic Cream Top, but a whole lot cheaper. (As in total cost for me yesterday being $1.99 as opposed to $8.05. Yup, I did use coupons, and the milk was on sale. Used Brown Cow yogurt and Organic Valley milk.)
*Is good for two weeks. :-)
(Times definitely do not need to be exact. I'm forgetful and I get busy, both of which can add or detract from the actual time when I'm making this! ;-P)

Enjoy! :-) 

Yet He did not leave himself without witness, for He did good by
giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons,
satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. — Acts 14:17

Friday, April 23

Happy 18th Birthday Claire!

May today be marvelous! ;-)


Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves
break in and steal. - Matthew 6:19

Thursday, April 22

An Interesting Thought...

It's not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised, the mosquito is swatted. 
- Marie O'Conner

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalm 118:24

Friday, April 16


I guess it pays off to enter contests. :-) Sometimes you win!

I LOVE my Beco baby carrier. Chloe does too (always a plus!). It is so great to be able to have my hands free to clean and do dishes when she is fussy and clingy, I feel more secure with her when I'm out shopping (i.e., never have to worry about turning my head away from her while I grab milk or something off the shelves), and it makes seeing the world just a bit easier! Touring St. Augustine and then a hike we did with Tosha at Glen Eryie (crossed a creek via stone-hopping 26 times on our way to the waterfall) were both so much easier since we didn't have to have a stroller (the creek wouldn't have been possible with one). And the airport... whew was that ever easy!I highly suggest a good quality & safe carrier. It definitely makes my Top 10 baby list.

So, I was very excited to be one the 50 chosen to receive one of these:
I've agreed to participate in their 30 day challenge (in May), where basically I become an advocate of the product. So... be warned. You'll hear LOTS more about it. ;-) Thanks y'all, for bearing with me and my craziness. :-)

Friday, April 9

Coming up with a menu...

I love to cook. But I still have a hard time sometimes pulling together menus that are healthy, nice, and within our budget. :-) Sure, I would love to make our vinaigrettes, etc. from scratch, but really... when they call for all kinds of ingredients that aren't typically found in pancakes, it's cheaper for me to buy an organic bottle from the store with a coupon. :-P So I'm learning to be creative (I hope... I would never claim to be gourmet... 'cause I am so not!) with my two-week menus. :-)

Hopefully this might help. It's from a blog called Simple Mom. :-)

Any help y'all can offer? I need yummy, inexpensive, non-pasta dishes for a certain meatatarian I love with all my heart. :-)

Learning to be better with the budget ...

Yes, this is a topic I'm currently *enthralled* with. :-) And saving over $75 (by matching coupons, catalinas & sales) on our last grocery/ household shopping trip was an encouragement! (Although how much I did spend was not. Argh!)  I have so much to learn, and I really want to start getting the paper someday for more coupons...

I'm finding these Money Saving Mom articles to be very helpful!

Any ideas that you've found helpful? I have SO much to learn!

Britax Stroller Giveaway

I love my Britax Roundabout car seat so I was excited when I saw this giveaway on "Deal"ectible Mommies. Go here to check it out: 

Britax Stroller Giveaway

Thursday, April 1

Easter Story Cookie

This is a fun treat for kids to do that also tells the story of Easter. I love fun traditions like this! It works best if done on Saturday night just before bedtime. You'll need to not be using the oven for a bit of time. ;-)

~Easter Sunday Tomb Cookies~
1 cup whole pecans
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
zipper baggie
wooden spoon or a wooden meat hammer
duct tape or packing tape
*Preheat oven to 300*F.
*Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon or hammer to break them into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested he was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.
*Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 teaspoon of vinegar into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.
*Add egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave his life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.
*Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste. Then put your pinch of salt in the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus's followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.
 *So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing! Add 1 cup sugar to the bowl. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because he loves us. He wants us to know and belong to him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
*Beat with a mixer on high speed for 10 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks form. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
*Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheets. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus's body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.
*Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape to seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.
*Leave the kitchen. If you've been making these cookies just before bedtime, GO TO BED! Acknowledge that the kids are probably sad that they've worked hard to make these cookies, and now have to leave them in the oven overnight. Explain that Jesus' followers were in sad when Jesus died and the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
*On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Ask the kids to notice the cracked surface. Have them bite into the cookies. The cookies are hollow! Explain that on the first Easter morning, Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.