Getting to Know Sonya Bayley

November 18, 2019

Sonya lives in West Chester with her husband, Rob, and their five sons. She and Rob attend the Gins’ community group. Though she is a Pennsylvania native growing up in Lebanon, PA, visiting Australia is at the top of her bucket list. Her hobbies include reading, gardening and creating photo books.

Tell us about your family.
I grew up in a Christian home where I was the oldest of four kids. My parents own a greenhouse and it was a huge part of my life growing up. I used to do homeschool in the greenhouse, I worked there all through college, and my brother, sister and I all had our wedding receptions there!

You are a mom of five busy boys. How do you start your day? 
I am definitely a morning person. If I am in bed by 11, I naturally wake up without an alarm most days by 5 or ‪5:30‬. I like to do devotions, work out, and shower before the kids get up.

Is there a job that takes you outside your home? 
I am an occupational therapist and worked per diem at Lifecare Hospital in West Chester. Unfortunately, the hospital shut down in April so I’m not employed right now.

How did you come to CFC?
I attended a secular university in Philly. There was a wonderful Christian group on campus and several of the members started attending Covenant. I went to church all of my life, but my very first visit to Covenant felt like I was “coming home,” and I knew that Covenant was where I was supposed to be. That was in the fall of ’99, so I just realized I have been part of Covenant for 20 years! 

Is there an activity your whole family enjoys? 
Reading to our boys! Of course, when we started reading to them, they could not read. But, we have continued this nightly tradition even though our two oldest are 10 and 12. Rob reads long chapter books to them and I read Bible stories and shorter books to the younger three. It is a special and peaceful way to prepare the kids for bed.

What is something about you that people might not know?
I grew up Mennonite (not Amish!). My church was conservative theologically but not in other ways. We were the first church in the district to have drums during worship. I could only wear dresses to church, but I did wear jeans at home! 

We love book recommendations. What is a title that has impacted your life? 
Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest by Edward T. Welch is on my top 10 list of helpful books. This book helped release me from many of my fears and reminded me of God’s abundant and ever-present grace. I still go through seasons of anxiety and fear at times, but it is not nearly as much of a sin issue as it was before reading this book.

What is a verse that is currently encouraging your heart? 
One of my favorite chapters is Psalm 63. Verse 1 says “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” I love water and I carry one (or two!) water bottles with me everywhere I go. My prayer is that my soul would thirst for Christ as much as my physical body thirsts for water. 

If you could talk to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give her? 
Stop comparing! In high school, I thought my life would be perfect if I could look and sing like a particularly popular girl in my class. When I fell into the comparison trap, I would either proudly deem myself “superior” or feel inferior and be miserable. I can still fall into this today, but by God’s grace, I have come a long way and I recognize that these are lies from Satan.

What is something you have learned in your marriage? 
Very early on in our marriage, Rob and I had a phone conversation that left me offended and hurt. I had a girls’ night that evening where I complained about Rob. When I got home, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin. I realized I did not want to be the kind of wife who speaks negatively about her husband behind his back. I repented and asked Rob’s forgiveness. That lesson stayed with me. To this day, I strive to always speak highly of Rob to our boys and to others and pray privately for his weaknesses.

Would you share your testimony with us?
I believe God saved me when I was a five-year-old. When I was 16, my dad was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. I struggled with that, and for the first time in my life, I questioned my faith and was angry at God. To this day, I remember it as the worst time of my life: I was miserable without God. God used a woman I babysat for to mentor me through that season, and I found renewed joy in Him. In God’s mercy, He healed my Dad, who is still cancer-free 23 years later. 

Another big step in my spiritual journey was going to a secular college after being in a Christian school all of my life. God surrounded me with strong, Christian friends who were serious about their beliefs. At the same time, I was meeting people of all different faiths and having many discussions about God. My roommate was Muslim, and we sat down and compared the Bible and the Quran (we are still close friends to this day). In my second year of college, I started coming to Covenant. That is when I really became interested in theology and grew a lot spiritually. I’m so thankful for the many friends, families, and pastors at Covenant who God has used to guide me and challenge me on my spiritual journey.

How can we be praying for you?
I always welcome prayer! Homeschooling brings me joy, but it is also quite challenging. It is difficult to find the balance between doing school with the boys, attempting to keep a tidy house, and putting dinner on the table. Thank goodness His mercies are new every morning!

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