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

13 comments:

Gail said...

Elizabeth,

Your love story is so beautiful. I love how you sought God in everything...and that you were willing to trust him even when your life seemed uncertain. God is so good to restore our hearts and give us blessings in place of hurt.

Thank you for sharing your story, Friend. Very encouraging.

-Gail

Stephanie B. said...

Isn't it amazing how God's plans for us are so far different than what we imagine they should be? :-) This is a beautiful story and I enjoyed reading it.

Britton Felber said...

:) You guys are great! I your "Love story." :)

Sarah said...

I love the love story! :) Came over from Josh and Erin's blog. :)

Rachel said...

Oh, I wouldn't worry about shortening it--I like the long version. Thanks for taking the time to write it out! Hopefully I'll see you around again sometime!!

Brittany said...

What a sweet story. It makes me smile and think of my sweet man and our story. Its a tad bit different but the feelings are all the same. I love popping over here every once and a while and reading and looking at the pictures of your beautiful little family and the love that you and your man share. It makes me heart happy and my eyes become wet. :)
I pray that God will bless you and your dear family greatly!
~Brittany

Gail said...

Looking forward to another post from you! ;) Maybe soon?

-Gail

Natalie (Nyquist) Ference said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog, and for sharing your story! Blessings...

lis said...

Hi Elizabeth,

We'd love to link to your story over at www.ylcf.org/courtship-stories, if you're comfortable with that. You can get in touch with us through our contact form.

Blessings!
Elisabeth :O)

Elizabeth Bailey said...

Elizabeth,

Please do! I hope it encourages someone. :-)

-Beth

Savories of Life said...

Found your blog and enjoyed it and would love to ahve you as a follower.

I need to learn from those who have walked the path before me. I am yet to be married. Praying that will be the Lord's will for my life.

Nice to know you do courtship. That is what I will do.

Kristen Elizabeth Lee said...

Elizabeth,

What a wonderful story!

During my engagement, I began a blog outlining wedding planning and likening the whole glorious thing to salvation. I am keeping it up to encourage girls (and guys too) towards a lifestyle of purity. I have recently began a section where I post stories from other couples who allowed the Lord to have control over their love life. I am very interested in including your story. Please go take a look at the blog and let me know if that would be possible.

Blessings to you both!

www.thekingsbride31.blogspot.com

Samalah said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story - it really reached out and encouraged me today...God can bring beauty out of pain :)