Please note: All images on this blog (except where noted) are original works of Miki Baxter and cannot be duplicated without permission. Also, if you're inspired by a project featured on here, then please link back to me and give proper credit. Thank you!!!


Life Is The Road We Are On Today

Several momentous things occurred today on our way to church.
First of all, the driver side mirror flew off. The SUV behind us that ran over it was full of laughing occupants. Their amusement caused us to laugh as well - what else can you do? Pull over and dodge cars to go after shards of glass and twisted metal??? I realized that laughing about it was the only reasonable thing to do, though I have been known to fuss and fume over such trivial matters that cannot be helped. Sean tried his best to repair that mirror - it popped off last week while he exited the bank drive thru. And last year, I backed up into a friend's mailbox and the passenger side mirror popped off. And we've managed to destroy the passenger side vanity mirror. So vehicle mirrors are not safe with us. Beware.
Every Sunday we pass a sign on the highway letting us know the number of miles to distant cities. 1700 miles to Denver. If we changed our minds about going to church and decided on a spontaneous adventure, we'd reach the Mile High City in a few days.
In our faithful Nissan Sentra. We bought this car, brand new, a month before I was due with our first baby. I was very concerned about Sean's beaten-up, survived-falling-into-a-ditch-full-of-water Subaru station wagon breaking down on the way to the hospital. And our Nissan continues to be a dependable friend, surviving the arrival and abuse of three children.
Putting it all together... I was thinking about how nice it would be to take such a road trip, say to Denver, in a roomy, new minivan. But our current reality is that we have this Nissan. Thankfully our three car seats fit in the back. It's cozy, but they fit. We have gone on and still do undertake road trips in this car - it's what we have in this season.
The life lesson: I have certain goals I am determined to meet, including building my business and shedding the extra baby weight. Often, my thoughts are about positives waiting in the distant future once I've reached my goals. "I'll be happy, satisfied, fulfilled, etc. when..." That's the future going on a road trip in a roomy minivan. But right now, I am at the Nissan level. Will that hinder me from living life to the fullest NOW, embracing the adventures today?
No, it should not. And I actively choose that it will not. Regardless of the current state or circumstance of my life, I absolutely can choose my attitude and behavior. And the standard of comparison (of success, value, ability) is whatever the Word says about me, my abilities, my future, etc. I am a creative photographer today and will continue to grow and develop as an artist. The place I reside in may not be mine, but it is still a warm, comfortable place for our family while we are in it. I am a vibrant woman today, taking care of my entire being (spirit, soul and body), and I will continue on that path of health and well-being. I wear clothing today that is becoming, and I will still dress modestly and in a way that is honoring no matter the size. It's so not about living for some time in the future WHEN. That when is today. Live life to the fullest today. With goals for the future, but with satisfaction of really being in the moment now. I will rejoice around town while in our red Nissan, and I will rejoice where we end up next and when we are able to upgrade our car. I'll rejoice in my now size and now abilities, and I will rejoice as the pounds come off and give it my all as I develop my art. Life is the road we are on today.


Have A Nice Life

Lately I've been reading some blogs that have touched me deeply, ladies with compelling and courageous voices. Unapologetically sharing their stories and the beautiful healing and restoration they've experienced. And beyond that, provoking us to more of Him. I so love that.
This blog is an eclectic mix of my life experiences, thoughts, etc. Tonight I'm thinking of a friend I met via Blogland who is going through. In the midst of it. Such an honest and brave person with a beautifully pure heart. Though we've been facing some challenges that I've referenced in recent blogs, I do usually keep my postings on the lighter side. In person, I'm not one to share deeper things quickly, so it makes sense that I don't delve into too personal on here either. But I'm always willing to open up if I sense the Lord leading me to, and I do.
Have you ever been disowned?
I was. And it's not clear, but I may be again. The first time, it wasn't for rebellious behavior or going off the deep end. It wasn't for going off to Bible School or even moving to Africa (both inciting "What? You?!?" reactions but no disowning.) I'm bi-racial and managed to marry outside of my race, but it wasn't for that either. We got our parents' blessings to marry. Nope. I was disowned in the middle of being in labor with my first child.
Huh? That was my reaction too initially. It's complicated. But the one who gave birth to me was offended to not receive a call from me personally to let her know I was in labor. Though it happened in the middle of the night. And it was a natural childbirth. For fifteen hours I was focused on that one thing only. I came home to an ugly message on the answering machine that concluded with, "Have a nice life."
I'm not sorry for the expectations and demands I didn't meet. I feel sorry for the hurt heart of a person reacting so severely, who missed out on the loveliness of a first and only granddaughter.
The grace of God shielded me from the devastating impact once the shock and disbelief wore off. Praying friends rallied around. And every night, throughout the night, when I checked on my precious one sleeping, I heard the voice of the Lord whispering that He too checked on me carefully, lovingly like I did my little one. As I laid my hand on her tiny head and marveled at her, He told me that He did the same. I took it in little by little, my own hurt heart making it hard to swallow except in tiny bits. The Lord mothered me during my first year as a mother. It was one of the sweetest years of my life. In the face of the rejection. And dealing with having to shave my head bald (a story for another time.)
The wounds took a long time to heal - there were other scabs and scars and hastily thrown on bandages in the mix. I learned of God's faithfulness and loving persistence. I experienced His personal care in both cleaning out and clearing up of hurts, old and new. It's an ongoing process, because these types of relationships are difficult.
There have been periods of reconciliation, but a person who is easily offended will easily find offenses. My last visit home ended with the same disowning words being carelessly flung after an angry tirade towards another. When I declined the invitation to participate, it extended towards me as well.
I may never measure up and therefore face the continued rejection of an earthly parent. But that ruler is not what guides my life. By God's ruler and His more accurate measurement, Jesus is the standard.
In Him...we become the righteousness of God, For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight, And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit, In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence, be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
* The blogs I mentioned above that have touched me are Grace Is For Sinners and Like A Warm Cup Of Coffee.

Halfway Through Week Two of School

As the title declares, we're halfway though week two of school. Already I've had thoughts of, "I can't do this!" Not a good sign so early in the year. But hormonal challenges (code word for PMS), according to hubby, are playing a starring role in the momentary panic-frustration-overwhelming feeling.
I've experienced something new, though. An epiphany of sorts (at least for me!) If I wait. quietly. keep my peace. no rants. then the feeling passes. It totally does. And I can get back into the swing of things without ruining the moment or more. Today, I gave the kids a writing assignment when the stormy grays rolled in (and because they were not following instructions/paying attention very well); they had to write "I will listen" multiple times. A slight diversion that bought me a few minutes of quiet time, and I was able to transition smoothly into Geography after they wrapped up their sentences. Victory, whew!
A new equation in our homeschool this year is an adorable, active and very vocal toddler. He does not like NOT being the center of attention for long and lets us know of his displeasure. Loudly. And in other ways: he launches toys at our work table, squeezes his way into the kids' chairs or under the table to tickle feet, tries to sneak off with school supplies, etc. I do pick him up and hold him on my lap sometimes, but he gets restless and wants to climb onto the table or toss the books.
That's part of the adjustment we are all learning how to make this year. It's a cross between a giggle and a sigh for me, balancing the quality of our days as a whole with all of these various parts. Learning time is important. Play time is important. Spending quality time with the children is very important. Learning appropriate boundaries is important. Discipline and order are important. Laughter and flexibility are important. Momma staying calm is very, very important. And the thing we've put as the first part of our day this year is most important: we are starting each morning with family Bible time and then devotions: the girls together and the boys together. Some one on one time talking and praying together. Because of that, I believe our year will be the most successful one we've had thus far, despite Momma's grumpies and the strong will of a 20 month old cutie pie.


The Storms of Life

We got some disheartening news today. I was strong for about two minutes before I dissolved into tears, crumbling inside and out. Pain, disappointments, frustrations, etc. don't take vacations in this life. They're all around.
BUT there's One that is even more present, "an ever-present help in time of trouble." Do you know that song? "Therefore I will not fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." It's also Psalm 46:1-2. I need to dig deeper and encourage myself in the Word:
In the Amplified Bible, it says, "...a well-proved help in trouble." Hasn't God always seen me through? Yes, He has.
The Message Bible puts it this way: "God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need Him." I need Your Help, God. Seriously, help!!!
From the Darby Transaltion: "...a help in distresses, readily found." I am distressed, recovering from the overwhelming feeling of devastation when we first heard the news. I belive this peace that holds me up right now is from You, Lord. Please go beyond the peace to bring guidance and directions. Show us what You want us to do. Open our eyes to see You clearly in this, our ears to hear You, and most of all our hearts to stay full of You and Your Word. No roots of bitterness, distrust or our faith faltering.
This is hard. I thought I'd faced hard, but this season has pushed the boundaries on that notion. I've learned a lot too, through this. That's for another post.

A few years ago, when we were going through a difficult time, we decided to have a party one night. A family party to celebrate the FACT that God is faithful, His Word is true, and that we believed His promises. Our circumstances weren't the final say-so. God's Word was. So tonight, we are having another family party. For the same reason. We don't know exactly what is going to happen. God does. And He loves us. Our future is in His hands. Tonight we will worship God, dance and celebrate before Him as an act of faith. He's got us.


Back To School

The title of this blog is a misnomer actually, since we don't go "back to school." We live at our school all the time :-) But we did start back up last Monday, 1st and 3rd grade, and the week went very well. Adapting to the new schedule was easier than expected, though it was nice to sleep in and dawdle all day on Saturday. I stayed in my pajamas the entire day!
Our family has a tradition for every holiday and special occasion: I make a special breakfast of homemade scones and tea. We started the day last Monday with this traditional feast and actually celebrated the end of the week with it as well. And I made Key Lime Curd from scratch for the first time - yummy! As part of school, my sweet girl and I are doing a devotional together called "Just Mom and Me Having Tea," and every Saturday we have a breakfast tea time with a more elaborate tea party at the end of each chapter.
To prepare for this upcoming week, I ran some errands today after church for supplies for both our science experiment (M&Ms!) and more craft supplies. Michael's was having a bunch of clearances on various items, and it was fun digging through various bins to find the treasures. I got my little man a football figurine for 29 cents to paint as a kick-off to the NFL season. My fashionista got a couple of wooden girls to color in and embellish, both under a dollar. I also got her an assortment of trim to dress up some shirts or pants, all for a dollar. With my Michael's 40% coupon, I purchased a set of fabric paint for the kids to decorate their clothing. I got a packet of multi-colored paper leaves at the Dollar Store to welcome the Fall season and to use in various crafts. I'm thinking of making a "Gratitude Tree" where the we all write down what we're thankful for and tape it to the tree. It'd be neat to send some as little notes to friends telling them how we're thankful for them too. At the Target dollar bin, I got each of the kids a card decorating kit for a dollar each, as they have several thank you cards to send out. A dear friend sent them a back-to-school bag of goodies including Fall pencils, little notebooks, and an animal craft. So sweet!
This is year five of homeschooling for me, since my firstborn insisted on starting school at the age of three. Each year, it has gotten easier and more delightful. I think I've found my groove, finally! It is definitely an adventure with limitless possibilities. I've learned so much in the last few years and am excited about the discoveries we'll make this year. Stay tuned...


Photo Friday: Happy Flowers

These flowers make me so happy! The outstretched pink petals with the fuzzy orange centers - God is an amazing artist! I want to always grow as a photographer, really seeing the wonder of everything all around and presenting them in fresh ways. The visual journey is a delightful one for me.


Photo Friday: It's Been Twenty Years

My senior high school portrait. Class of 1989. The serious expression tells it all.
An uncertain future, not knowing at all what I wanted to be "when I grew up." The first ten years after high school were filled with slow discoveries. After several years of finding out a lot of what I didn't want to do or be, I found a deeper purpose after Bible school and an exploratory trip to Kenya and Ethiopia in 1996. I returned to Ethiopia to work with an aid organization and thought I'd be there forever. God had even bigger plans for me, and I got married in 1999 to my best friend, Sean, who is a visionary and a filmmaker. Three children and tons of adventures later, including moving a handful of times, we are getting ready to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a few months. And the next decade presents itself, full of potential, promises and lots more adventure. These are some of dreams/desires/goals for the next ten years - ages 38 to 48:
  • Go to Paris (on the calendar for April 2010!!!)
  • Get my Master's Degree (I finally know what I want to do when I grow up...I think)
  • Create both a photography and film documentary
  • Write a book

There are a bunch more but they are personal, ones I hold closer to my heart. In ten years' time, my oldest will be out of high school. Wow. This next decade will be full with mentoring the kids and preparing them to fulfill their own dreams. It's going to be a busy time - I need to put on my running shoes, pop some vitamins regularly and whip out the wrinkle cream. Gotta keep up, there's a lot to do out there!


Come Alive...Be Beautiful

Two quotes that have put a little pep in my not-so-peppy self tonight from Nesting Place: Right at the top of her blog, the declaration that "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." And further down she references this brilliant gem: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman Oh, thank God for these inspirational lifelines! This has been a season of emotional turmoil. Words fail me now, so instead I'll share a special picture from a recent getaway with dear friends. We sensed the presence of God as we watched the sun going down over the water, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to catch the breathtaking beauty of everything around me. Can you see the rainbow effect and the bird flying right past the sun? Though I did see the bird through my lens, only God could bring all of these elements together. None of my other photos had the rainbow flare. The rainbow, a reminder of God's promises. The bird, representing the Holy Spirit. More later.