Martha Bailey is someone you ought to know. Now, unless you live on what is euphemistically called “New Orleans’ Northshore,” so you can drive to the First Baptist Church of Covington where her husband Waylon has been pastor for some 20 years or more, you may not have had the opportunity. Until now.
She’s written a book. And I guarantee you that after reading it, you will feel that a) you know Martha Bailey and b) you like this lady.
Some will recall that in December of 2005, the FBC of Covington hosted all our ministers and spouses for our annual Christmas banquet. Now, they are not part of our association, being separated from us by 25 miles of Lake Pontchartrain, and they had taken massive damage from Hurricane Katrina themselves, but under the leadership of Waylon and Martha, the church did that banquet, did it first-class, and rolled out the red carpet for nearly 200 of our folks. Not only was it free, but they gave everyone gifts of money. Lots of money which was sorely needed by our hurting ministers.
I told you how Martha took it upon herself to fill up gift bags for each couple that night, gifts such as Wal-Mart cards and other nice things, including shelled pecans. She marched into the grocery store, found herself talking to the district manager of Winn-Dixie, and asked if he wouldn’t like to donate pound bags of shelled pecans for the ministers of New Orleans, in fact, 75 or 100 pound bags. The local manager stuttered, “Uh, sir, do you know what these sell for?” The district manager did. He told Martha and his store manager that he lives in Diamondhead, Mississippi, and that when his family evacuated for Katrina, a Baptist church took them in and ministered to them, and he had been looking for a way to say thanks.
Anyway, that’s Martha. Big visions, go anywhere, do anything, just move out of her way. You want a job done; she’s your lady. Martha is most definitely worth knowing.
The book is called “Putting My Dress-Up Clothes Away,” and subtitled “because big girls live in the real world.” The publisher is Insight Press, P. O. Box 5077, Covington, LA 70434. I don’t know what it sells for, but have already ordered 20 copies for some women in my life.
Here’s the story behind the title.
The Baileys–Dad, Mom, and daughters Anna and Emily–were having dinner with a deacon’s family. Afterwards, the girls went upstairs to play with the daughters of the host family, the older ones listening to music, the younger two playing dress-up. After a bit, the latter two came down the stairs ready to show everyone their outfits. The deacon’s daughter announced with pride, “Look, y’all–Emily is Cindi Lauper, and I’m a hooker from New York City!”
In the best style of preachers everywhere, Martha tells that delightful story–I’ll let you read it to see how the parents reacted to that startling announcement!–and then transitions into how some women pretend they are someone else, feeling they do not measure up. She’s written this book to help them recover their identity in Christ.
Here is my favorite Martha Bailey story from chapter 25. I’ve told it a dozen times since reading it in the proof she sent this way months ago. She was going somewhere, and while fumbling with keys and everything, set her purse on the trunk of the car. Only when she arrived at her destination did she realize she had lost her purse. She turned around and retraced her path several times, but the purse was nowhere to be found.
Now, what would you do? I’ll tell you what Martha Bailey did, something not one person in a thousand would have thought of. She dug out a gift bag about the size of her purse and filled it with magazines until the weight was about the same, then set it on the back of the car just like she had done the first time, and drove away. She kept her eye on the bag in the rear view mirror, and when it fell off, Martha parked the car and got out and started looking. Eventually, she found the purse down the embankment where it had snagged on a bush.
Thursday afternoon, Keith Manuel and Wayne Jenkins of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Evangelism Department were in my office and I showed them Martha’s book and told that story. Wayne had one to add to it. Martha reads this blog, so this will probably make her feel a lot less foolish about losing her purse.
Wayne Jenkins had driven a pickup truck a long way with building materials for some project he was doing. (I’m going to have to start listening better.) He arrived at home at 10:30 that night and walked around to the back of his pickup to make sure everything was all right. To his dismay, he noticed some of the material missing. What could have happened? He had it all when he left. It must have fallen off.
Even though it was nearing midnight, he had to find the missing building materials. No doubt they were laying in the highway somewhere, a hazard to motorists. Now, Wayne lives in Alexandria, and that night he drove down Interstate 49 all the way to Opelousas, some 60 miles. He drove slowly, looking along the shoulders, and even checked in with truckers at all night cafes to see if anyone had found the materials. He thought about–and ruled out–calling the Highway Patrol to see if they had found it. He could just hear the officer saying, “So you’re the one who caused the wreck that killed that family!” So he drove on.
He never did find the missing material, and finally turned around and drove back home, arriving in the wee hours of the morning. Before going to bed, he checked the material in the truck one more time. And discovered–you guessed it–that nothing was missing. It was all there. He had just not checked carefully enough.
We laughed and asked him, “Okay, Wayne–you’re a preacher. I know you’ve told that story in a sermon. So what did it illustrate?” He laughed, “I never could think of anything for it to illustrate.” We said, “It illustrates going off half-cocked!!” and laughed again.
Don’t you love people who can laugh at themselves. (And don’t you enjoy the chance to laugh at someone else for a change!)
The Baileys’ grandson Jake calls Waylon “Doc” and Martha “Honey.” I recommend her book. You’ll find she is well named.