The old hymn says it best: "When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." These words resonate in the life of Lynn Shaw Bailey, '77. Lynn has a passion for music and, even more, a passion for pursuing God.
"Through music, God speaks to our hearts, our minds, our souls and our spirits," she says. "Life without music would be like life without air to me. For a number of years, I didn't understand why my career path seemed to be going so far from my love of music. While at OBU, I was a music education major and intended to become a school music teacher. When my husband, Dan, '74, and I moved to San Diego, California, from Shawnee, I completed a nursing degree and worked full-time as an RN for a few years. Then I returned to college to finish another degree and went to work as a manager for BellSouth. That was more than 20 years ago. I'm now retired from BellSouth and working full-time in music."
Throughout her tenure in the business world, Lynn supported the arts education program in her local community of Douglasville and all of Georgia, where the Baileys have lived for the majority of their years since OBU. "I've come to understand that God uses all my education, experience and circumstances to prepare and equip me for the work he wants me to do, whether it be working with church or school choirs; doing arts education advocacy work, composing songs; doing administrative work; being a mother, wife and daughter; writing articles or playing music. None of my education or experience has been a waste of time."
Church became the context for Lynn's initial interest and growth in music. "My church youth director and mentor, Roger Miller at Second Baptist Church in College Park, Georgia, was also very influential in my faith and calling," she says. "Under his leadership, I remember doing some of the early youth musicals like Good News, Celebrate Life and Tell It Like It Is. He made singing so much fun, and he was the one who suggested that I attend OBU. I'll always be grateful to him for suggesting OBU and for all the wonderful things that have come about as a result. OBU strengthened my commitment to make a real difference in the world for our Lord, and helped me better understand how I am called to God's work." Another important influence in Lynn's life was her Grandmother Shaw. "She was so rich in her faith and in her love for others.
Folks from all around would refer to her as 'Mom Shaw.' She was so full of life. I can still hear her singing 'Count Your Blessings' as she worked in the kitchen." As a result the hymn "Count your Blessings" remains one of Lynn's favorites.
Her advice for those younger in life's journey is poignant. "When God gives you a calling and purpose," she says, "follow it with all your heart. But don't be surprised by how and when he fulfills those purposes. His plan is much bigger and better than we can imagine. Stay faithful and prayerful. Be deliberate and diligent. Expect hardships, roadblocks and discouragement, but don't let them keep you from doing what God has called you to do because he is always faithful. Always count your blessings."
Among Lynn's achievements she founded the Friends for Arts and Music Education (FAME) of Douglas County in 1994, a grassroots arts education advocacy organization. She works with the 4th-6th-grade Young Musicians choir at First Baptist Church of Lithia Springs, where she and Dan are members. As a composer, Lynn has written many titles for LifeWay Christian Resources including the 2003-04 children's theme song, "Lights, Camera, Action," and the 1994-95 WMU Hymn of the Year, "Teach Them to Love the Lord." Numerous other music companies have also published Lynn's sacred and secular choral works. In addition, Lynn has received annual composing awards since 1995 from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). Lynn and Dan have two sons, Mark, a senior in high school, and Paul, a sophomore in college.