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!!!


Five Things About Me

This is my first time participating in Talkin' About Thursdays. Today's topic is "Five Things About Yourself." Let me see if I can come up with five that I haven't mentioned before in other questionnaires. Five Things About Me: 1. I am half-Japanese and grew up speaking both Japanese and English. In fact, I thought everyone spoke those two languages (since it was my family norm). When my American grandmother visited us when I was about seven, I kept switching from one language to another and couldn't understand why she wasn't responding to me. She thought it was hilarious that I kept doing that, really believing that she spoke Japanese! 2. Growing up in Japan, I used to practice being American by insisting we eat "American" foods like pizza and hamburgers. I even had a Valley Girl dictionary and practiced with my friends in order to fit in once we moved to the States! (It was the early 80's.) This did not work at all, since I was totally unfamiliar with common slang phrases and took them literally. 3. I've loved reading since I was a child; my favorites include biographies and mysteries. I recently finished a fascinating book about the Secret Service and am currently reading Gayle Haggard's autobiography. My husband is amazed at the questions I can answer on Jeopardy all comes from reading! 4. I really dislike my middle name and would like to remove it legally. I regret not doing it when I got married. My first name was carefully chosen by my mother and has a special meaning (Beautiful Century - the name of this blog!) My middle name, ugh! It doesn't match my first name AT ALL (it really sounds ridiculous), has no sentimental link, and I have NO IDEA why my dad added it And NO, I won't ever tell because I don't want to hurt the feelings of anyone who may have that name. 5. My favorite forms of exercise are swimming and dancing. Though I have little endurance with running, in the pool I can swim many, many laps without tiring. I was once challenged to a race across a pool by an adult soccer player in Ethiopia (showing off for his teammates) and beat him twice! My husband is a fantastic dancer, and I hardly give him time to rest on the rare occasion we go out dancing. I try to squeeze in as much dancing as possible since it only happens a few times a year these days. Well, now you know some things about me. Tell me about you!


Grumpy and Real

Sooooo, yesterday I was nice and friendly. Participated in Friend Making Monday, visited other blogs and left comments. I hung out with my family and celebrated my precious firstborn's birthday. Had lots of fun, though the grump clouds had started rolling in by midday. Thankfully, I was able to dodge them somewhat until later in the evening. By then, everyone else was asleep and safe from my crankiness. I tried to fall asleep. Got some praying in while I waited to drift off into unconsciousness. Then I woke up this morning. Maybe I should have stayed in bed. Except the kids were wanting breakfast (what?!?), Mr. Nice Guy actually wanted to get some work done versus taking over all parental duties, and I needed to homeschool. Don't want to get too behind...that stresses me out more. But, I. Am. Grumpy. Fussy. Irritated. Frustrated. Wound up a little too tightly. Maybe it's PMS. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we are moving across the country in a little over a month (just found out the news Friday after several months of not knowing anything for sure). There are so many details, but we're still waiting for some information that will help us make clearer decisions. AHHH!!! Did I ever mention that I'm not a laid back, go with the flow kind of person? I am the make the flow happen type of girl. But I can't-shouldn't-won't meddle with this process. And I need to take the time to properly process all these changes. Anybody have a padded room with a vacancy for me? I am praying. But not reading the Bible enough to gain the peace and security I am desperately needing right now. Stubbornly resisting the cure to what ails me. Why oh why do I do this? AS IF anything else could really help me. Anyway, this is me being real (and grumpy). Showcasing my imperfection and flawed nature. I foolishly turn to other things for comfort when I KNOW there's only One true source to the comfort I need, and this One has a lasting effect. Trust Him, I plead to myself. Hasn't He been faithful in every tangled situation of my life??? Oh, yes He has. Most definitely. Pride and lack of humility to yield myself to Him and to receive His grace - ugh, sometimes I am totally disgusted with myself! Seriously. On one hand, we have the Maker of the universe who loves me so completely. He has all the answers, all the power and the resources that I need. On the other, little me. It's pretty obvious which is the better choice - h-e-l-l-ooooo! Enough said. I am taking myself by the scruff of my collar and giving myself a serious talking to and a shake if necessary. Stubborn girl. You'd better get a grip on the Truth and hang on tightly to Him. No more whining and complaining and acting like a baby! Except maybe I will take a nap today to catch up on some rest. Please visit me again tomorrow where you will find a more peaceful, humble girl who is right with the God and with her world. Until then, prayers appreciated!


Friend Making Monday

Outside my window...the howling wind and rain make me feel cozy and safe under my blankets.
I am thinking....about my daughter's birthday today and all of our plans to celebrate her. I am thankful...for shelter, peace, a loving family and God's hand to hold throughout all of the recent changes and challenges. I am praying...for my loved ones to heal, about all of the details re: our upcoming move to Colorado. I am awesome book by Peter Walsh, clutter guru, "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?" Saw him on TV and appreciate his common sense, direct approach to making room to have the life you want. Checked out several of his books at the library; I'm not a pack-rat but am dealing with lot of other types of clutter in my life. I am creating...a lovely home even in the midst of a temporary place and uncertainty. And earlier I made my daughter the prettiest gift - a purse covered with white flower petals with a ribbon and vintage brooch as part of the trim. Petals + hot glue + Dollar Store purse = an original and lovely bag! From the kitchen...homemade butterfly sugar cookies with a simple frosting colored pink with frozen rasberries. Around the house...there are stacks of boxes, some laundry left to be folded and put away, gifts hidden behind a chair, toys enjoying lots of use, dishes in the sink, and a painted jewelry box drying. I'm giving my sweet girl my jewelry box from childhood and painted it white to update it for her. One of my favorite reading, and I devoured quite a few books this weekend. My favorite mystery author had two new books out. Though they were each close to 500 pages, I finished them both without totally neglecting my family. I did neglect good sleep though. A few plans for the rest of the week...birthday celebration, sorting through things to give away, more packing, looking for a place in Colorado, lots of praying 'cause there's a lot going on right now. Join in on Friend Making Monday - it's a neat way to meet and get to know new friends. C'mon. Answer the questions and post your link. Cross on over to the BLOG side. (smile.) I DID mention lack of sleep up there in my answers, right? Allright. Goodnight.


1700 Miles to a Rocky Mountain High

Copyright 2010 Roy Tennant, FreeLargePhotos.comNow he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams Seeking grace in every step he takes His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake And the Colorado rocky mountain high I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply Rocky mountain high "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver
For almost two years on our way to church, we've seen a sign on the highway stating: 1700 miles to Denver. It also lists a city in Ohio that was over 400 miles away and the distance to St. Louis. Never saw a sign like that - usually the mileage signs indicate upcoming places and the major cities only a few hundred miles away. The interesting thing about the information on this sign is that Mr. Nice Guy has long desired to live in Colorado. Fell in love when we visited 10 years ago. But as much as he periodically knocked on the doors of opportunity to move to Colorado, there has never been an opening. Until now. We're leaving behind my beloved ocean and the familiar Blue Ridge Mountains for the Rockies. The impact of this move feels huge to me - we'll be far away from family and friends, in a different time zone and elevation. Though we've lived away from our parents for over a decade, it feels like we're finally leaving home and venturing out into the world on our own. That is so odd to me because I moved to AFRICA to live as a missionary before I was married. Talk about a time zone, elevation, extremely different life experience! The main difference must be having children. Not only do I need to process my various emotions and deal with them, I need to help the children with theirs and make the transition as easy as possible. I can't hide under the comforter when the details become overwhelming (well, not for too long, anyway). They will adapt and make new friends. I will adapt and make new friends...though this is really hard for me! I really like the longtime friends I'm used to seeing periodically. A drive of several hours is very different from a long, expensive plane ride. Boo Hoo. But these kindred spirits and I have remained close through the gazillion moves my family's already made, so I know they're not going anywhere. Thank you, sweet friends. And there are more treasures to be discovered in our new place. God has been extremely faithful to cross our paths with amazing people every place we've been, and He'll bring them by again. I just know it. (And by the way, thank you, amazing people from the past and along this journey that God brought our way. You have enriched our lives by sharing the gift of who you are!) Please pray for us as we gather up ourselves and prepare to make this monumental move. Along with it comes exciting opportunities for Mr. Nice Guy and for the rest of us too. I am believing that God, who spoke to Mr. Nice Guy a few months ago and started him along this path, will provide everything we need for the move. And please pray for our families - we're heartbroken in the midst of our excitement to move so far away from the ones we love.


I'm an Eleven to His Two

Huh? Eleven and two? Early on in our marriage, we received some wise counsel and gained understanding about our communication troubles. I grew up in a house where people raised their voices. Mr. Nice Guy's family was more, er...nice. They didn't shout at one another. That didn't make them great communicators - in fact, it confused me how they smiled and laughed during "discussions" and talked about things in a roundabout way. My family was direct. You KNEW what the problem was, and it was going to be dealt with. Immediately. So when Mr. Nice Guy and I had a "discussion" about an issue, I spoke out directly and strongly and as clearly as I could. Whoa. In terms of levels, what I considered a calm voice registered as a yelling voice to him. Ha! My yelling voice is actually very, very loud. Since my "discussion" level was so high and uncomfortable for him, I needed to work really hard to tone it down for the sake of keeping the lines of communication open. On the other hand, Mr. Nice Guy's low-key, indirect approach was driving me bonkers. It sent me mixed signals about how he really felt or if something mattered to him. I needed more evidence, excitement or disgust, to show me what his true thoughts were. My thoughts and feelings are often clearly marked on my face, whereas his calm demeanor is pretty much always. CALM. We're opposites. Surprise, surprise. It has been eye-opening to realize the numerous ways we are wired so differently. The journey of discovery hasn't been smooth, but it has been very interesting and worthwhile. And we've learned so much and have grown to appreciate one another's qualities so much more, because most often they are ones we lack. On a scale of one to ten, I'm an eleven. I. am. expressive. Don't hold back much of my thoughts or feelings, unless necessary. But I believe it's important to let it out. Mr. Nice Guy is the cool-as-a-cucumber two. He's peaceful in the midst of the storm. We balance each other out and help one another grow, as God intended.


Seven years since the dark descent

I'm gonna dive right in because this subject's hard to write about, but it's been on my heart a lot lately. And I've recently read some blogs where ladies shared their current struggle. My heart aches for all who endure the dark descent. Depression.
Seven years ago this month, I had just had my sweet baby boy and was adjusting to life as a momma of two. Things were good on the home front; life seemed predictable, slow-paced and secure. Except I was falling apart inside. My emotions were completely scattered. I felt like my outer shell was on auto-pilot while my inside had taken a trip to Mars. The two were not connected. When the inside overtook the outside calm, all hell broke loose. I wailed. I screamed. I checked out. The emotional outburst overload was horrible, but the blank look was probably what scared my husband the most.
He travelled a lot with his job at that time. With an extended trip coming up, I called my doctor in a panic. "Help" came in the form of a prescription for medication that was supposed to kick in and right my system in three weeks. Medicine that made me a zombie. I went through the motions but was like a TV left on with no programming. The blankness was amplified with no one fighting to get out from the inside. I remember staring out the window, and nothing meant anything. I went to the store and forgot why I was there. I couldn't remember the day of the week or if it was day or night until I got to the outside of the store. I forgot where I was going in the car. But the worst was the overwhelming urge that kept coming up to drive the car across the yellow line. I don't know why the temptation to do that was so strong, especially when I was alone in the car, but it was. So I tried to come up with ways to combat these issues, like writing a list including the date and time when I went to the store. I called my husband whenever I started feeling like crossing into oncoming traffic and had him state clearly that I was not to do that. Thank God that I was clear-headed enough to never want to hurt the children, but I did want to hurt myself. I did projects that helped me focus and feel like I accomplished something good. I put one foot in front of the other day by day in a world that no longer meant that much to me.
It was a very lonely time, for me and for my husband. I had one friend who stood with me through that time. Others bailed, most often with judgment. My husband shouldered most of the responsibility of keeping our household going, and he did it without any support or encouragement or knowledge of how long this season was going to last. My hell was chemical and hormonal and defined. His hell was none of those. I don't know how he endured this, but by the mercy of God we made it through that year.
Towards the end of November 2003, I decided that I was done with the medication and came off of it. I wanted to re-engage and fight versus having no will to fight or do much of anything. My husband supported me in this and wanted me to be present again, even if that meant I was an emotional rollercoaster. It was better than the zombie me. I went into counseling with a sensitive, kind, and compassionate lady. It helped so much. Slowly but steadily, we rebuilt our lives and our family. Our children were so blessed to have a dad who worked overtime to ensure that they had stability and security when I couldn't provide those things.
I'm not ashamed about having gone through postpartum depression. And I still fight depression on occasion and some lingering effects from that time which I will write about at another time. I am willing to share about my experiences if it will help someone to know they are not alone. And I will help others fight too. When the dark descent comes, we can be lanterns of hope, encouragement, and love. Tenacious, compassionate, enduring, standing with the person struggling even if you don't understand what's going on type of love. Jesus loves us stubbornly and without ever giving up on us. That we would follow His example with kindness, compassion and gentleness. Amen.


Little Man & Momma

Treasured moments with my toddler.
He's growing and changing so quickly.
One moment it's "Hold me."
Then the next, "Get Down. Stop. No!!!"
I tell my children that they'll always be my babies.
Even when they're all grown up and towering over me.
I reserve the right to pull them onto my lap
and smother them with kisses.
It's good to pause to really enjoy these times.
In between the squabbles and messes and everything else.
These are the moments that make memories.
The same adorable toddler has the remote and an extremely pleased expression on his face as he watches his Wiggles DVD in fast motion. And his first word upon waking up this morning was "Wii!" Mr. Nice Guy let him play just once and now he's demanding it from morning to night. Sigh. It's a new stage of independence and assertiveness and very strong opinions. It's a good thing that he's so very, very cute...


Boldly Going Where I Have Not Gone Before...

On the night of my graduation from Bible School, an evening that was supposed to be one of the best ever in my life, I was really, really low. I was alone, lonely, and thousands of miles away from family. No one was able to come for the graduation. Bible School. A place where you grow in the things of God. . . so I should have had some epiphany or understanding of my purpose. But I had no idea what to do next and felt like a failure at the time. I couldn't stomach a feel-good-hip-hoorah commencement speech and desperately prayed in my seat for grace to endure the rest of the ceremony. But then the speaker shared about the difference between the much admired, delicate tea cup sitting in a china cabinet and the chipped, often used, dependable coffee mug. The mug had been left outside, tossed to the floor of the car, used in a variety of ways and had held all sorts of beverages. It'd been through hard times. But that made it valuable because he knew it could withstand challenges. The speaker shared about his recent trip to the Louvre Museum in Paris. Though it displayed numerous well-known works of art, the longest line at the time of his visit was to see a priceless painting that had been slashed by a vandal. After some repair, the museum placed the painting back on the wall. The damage to the masterpiece was still obvious, but it seemed to draw even more attention because of it. And the priceless value of the art did not change. Both of these stories touched me deeply. I could relate to being a damaged work of art, priceless as a creation of God and purchased at the cost of Christ's blood but damaged nevertheless. And I yearned to be that trustworthy-often-used-by-its-master mug, chipped but dependable because it had endured a lot. I've been through a lot. Recently, two blogs that I follow had posts about being transparent, authentic, and bold in sharing real-life experiences. To pull back that curtain to reveal the three dimensional person behind the blog. MckMama recently wrote a post called "Bold Blogging" that got my attention. And Jen @ Balancing Beauty and Bedlam has written about her family's season of unemployment and calls it their "God Watch." I let both ladies know I was mentioning them and also how their posts impacted me. The messages resonated strongly with me. It's never been my desire or intention to present my life as being more of anything just by highlighting the positives or detailing the wonderful times. I want to use my voice as a woman. wife. mother. flawed human. Jesus lover. to encourage others and point them to Jesus. What I've shared up to now has been authentic and me, but there's more to the story. And I am willing to open up and show more facets to the diamond in the rough that is Miki. For the purposes of reaching out to others who can relate and may need to know that others experience such things. And to glorify God.

The 30 Challenge Continues...

...but I will not be posting about it daily here on this blog. Mr. Nice Guy & I are the only two that I know of that have committed to this current challenge, and we can be accountable to one another daily in person. I may write updates as things come along that are blog-worthy, and we will see this through to the end. There are so many other topics that I feel pressed to write about and share, so that will be more my focus as far as my voice here.


Day Three: Keep Going!

Yesterday was an extremely difficult and emotional day for me, and I found myself up late processing everything. Sometimes I need the quiet and peace after everyone else is asleep to unwind and release the stresses of the day. Though I did not meet my goal yesterday of getting to sleep by 10:00 p.m., I am back on track today and took the steps to get myself there. For example, I resisted the urge to nap with my little one in order to be sufficiently tired to turn in early.
Making adjustments and getting right back on track if you should fail one day are all part of the process of accomplishing the goal. Perfection is not what is required - more so the ability to keep going, to deal with distractions and challenges along the way, to meet failure head on and press past it. Keep going no matter what! Only 27 more days!


A Storm.

Today seemed a normal day. We woke up, got ready and left for church. Then an unexpected cloud of circumstance rolled in and darkened the horizon. No worries, it was going to be a temporary delay at most. Or so I thought. But the winds started picking up. And strong waves attacked the fortress, the place of peace.This was turning out to be a bigger storm than I could have ever predicted. It caught me unaware but not totally unprepared. The Son was shining still on the other side of the storm clouds. I'd checked my position and communicated my whereabouts prior to departure. But the blows hurt. The pounding took a toll. Darkness hovered after the battering of the wind and waves. But then a Light. And other beacons pierced through the oppressive dark. Stars twinkling. A lamp light in a window. Headlights. A flashlight. There were bright spots all around, bringing comfort and clarity through the dark. We were found. We were fortified.
Thank You, my Lord, for Your goodness, Your hand of protection and Your provision. Thank you my dearest family for coming alongside to encourage. Thank you friends for your prayers that help sustain us in the midst of the challenges. I often find myself turning to the positive voice in most of my writing, even if I started out in angst or rage. It's not my desire or intention to present a picture of great faith or togetherness. But I do have a genuinely optimistic sense of God's sovereignty in our lives and circumstances, an unwavering belief in His protection and deliverance. He has certainly brought me through many trials and tragedies - He IS faithful, always, to His Word. And my desire is to honor Him, to proclaim His goodness and steadfastness throughout all circumstances. I am challenged to share more transparently, however, and to open up about the tears that pour out, the tight throat, quivering knees, the wanting to sleep for a year and only wake up when the circumstances are over. The depression I battle. The anguish within that threatens to overtake me sometimes. The marvelous contrast of His strength and my weakness. Everything good in my life has come because of Jesus. Without Him, I would not exist. I would have been destroyed a long time ago. But He lifted me out of a rubbish heap and determined to clean me up. And there are still areas... But everything good has been because of Him. And has come through Him. Blessed be His Holy Name.

Day Two: Make The Necessary Adjustments

Welcome to Day Two of the 30 Day Challenge! Though it's only the second day, I want to encourage you to make adjustments along the way as necessary to succeed in meeting your goal. The idea is not to find excuses or move away from your goal. Instead, things may need to be modified here and there in order to help. For example, I altered my goal of exercising every day. The last few days of the holiday have worn me out, and I've been getting to bed very late. I realized that for the overall sake of good health, I first need to get back to a regular sleeping schedule so that my body is well rested and ready for the next phase of regular, vigorous exercise. I modified my goal to getting to bed by 10:00 p.m. every night for the first week, then adding exercise to that in the second week. My major desire for this year is to be healthy and strong, and all of these steps are leading me to that. Sometimes those adjustments mean breaking down your original goal to smaller steps, like mine above. Sometimes, like when driving a car, the adjustments mean pausing to consult a map to make sure you're on track or on the best route for where you want to go. The main thing is staying on course, no matter what. No matter the challenges along the way or any delays. Keep going!


Day One: Declare Your Goal

Gotta have something to run towards, a specific goal, to be successful in making lasting changes. Ready to declare yours? Another thing to consider in pursuing this goal for the 30 Day Challenge is breaking it down into measurable parts. All participants will daily post in the blog comment section, via e-mail or Facebook what they accomplished and/or the challenges they faced in reaching their goal. Success is not just finishing - it's in the overcoming of difficulties along the way. My goal for the 30 Day Challenge is to exercise daily. I am returning to a simpler, healthier lifestyle (including NO SUGAR and NO TV), and one area that needs a serious boost is incorporating exercise into my every day.
A general overview of the 30 Day Challenge: Week One - Saturday 1/2 to Friday 1/8 Week Two - Saturday 1/9 to Friday 1/15 Week Three - Saturday 1/16 to Friday 1/22 Week Four - Saturday 1/23 to Friday 1/29 The last two days of the Challenge will be Saturday 1/30 and Sunday 1/31. C'mon! Let's do this thing!!!


30 Day Challenge: Get Ready, Get Set, GO

Mr. Nice Guy and I are embarking on a 30 Day Challenge. The guidelines are simple:
1. Determine a specific challenge or goal for the next 30 days
2. Post that goal as a way to be accountable (via this blog's comment section, e-mail, Facebook)
3. Communicate to me daily on how you met that goal
Since January has 31 days, we will officially kick off this Challenge tomorrow, January 2nd. Please join the fun - the goals can be anything! My goals in previous challenges included going to sleep by 10:00 p.m. and exercising every day.
I'll post daily encouragements and updates as well as my own progress. Let's jump into 2010 with new habits and success!!!