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!!!


A Letter To Self, Liberation

© Oscar Williams |
A letter that I read in a book spoke my heart exactly.  

Dear Little (Self),
You were a beautiful child, an innocent.  You were pure love.  I'm going to take care of you from now on.  You were talented and creative.  I'm going to express you.  You're safe now.  You can love and you can let love in.  You won't be hurt.  You can discern now.  I'll take care of us.  I'll pull us together.  We were always apart, playing different roles, learning to cope.  You're not crazy.  You were afraid.  They can't hurt you anymore.  I've stopped...concealing your anger, your rage, your sadness, your depression, your guilt, and your anxiety.  You can let go of those feelings now.  I've stopped punishing us, like they did.  I've surrendered to God.  We are worthwhile.  I am worthwhile.  The world we made up is over now.  We are waking up.  It still hurts, but not as much.  And it's finally real.  

Part of the "waking up" is admitting to myself that it really was bad.  And it hurt terribly.  For a very long time.  No more brushing it off or minimizing the reality of all that's happened.  Coming to terms with it is a huge part of moving on beyond it to true healing.  

I feel liberation seeping into the crevices of my soul.  Long dormant dreams are rising to the surface.  The belief that I can do it radiates within me.  Hope and peace have wrapped their arms around me.  

I'll be spending Memorial Day up in the mountains with my family and with my camera.  There's some praying I want to do up there, a final release of all these things.  I'm also seeking new direction for my photography career and artistic inspiration.  One of my dreams is having a gallery showing of my photography.  It's time to start rebuilding my portfolio along with my life!  The pouring out of all that the Artist of my soul has poured into me.   


Creativity as Therapy

Physically.  Mentally.  Emotionally.  
I am healing.  

From the worse case of acne I've ever experienced (seriously?!?) 
to an aching heart and rawness within,
it. has. been. a process.

The cost of therapy?
A tube of blemish zapper.
A bag of glue sticks.
Fabric remnants.
A little this and that.

Creativity as therapy...
40 Fabric Rosettes
16 Decorated Headbands and Hair clips
Glammed Up Dollar Store Purses
Eiffel Tower Art for my daughter's room
Decorated Lampshade
Wire Cage Candlescape
(I'll be snapping a lot of pictures and featuring these 
on my creativity blog, The House of Beauty and Culture.)

Plus I have been reading a variety of books - mysteries, biographies, self-help and inspirational.
And I kicked off eating healthier (more raw foods) by doing a cleansing fast.
Purging and cleansing.
Feeding and creating.


A Stop Sign In My Winter

© Ramon Negron | 
This photograph illustrates this post exactly. I have put up a stop sign in the middle of my winter that contrasts greatly against the seemingly neutral snow.
Seemingly neutral. Because the absence of color, like the absence of warmth, is not a passive state. The removal of color and warmth can be a deliberate act. Or a sign of apathy. Both a strong stance, not a weak one.

Back to the stop sign.

I have always been a front door kind of person. Black and white. Literal. Straight to the point. Not one to hem and haw. Even as a child, I didn't understand roundabout talk. I have a low tolerance for superfluous words that don't mean anything or say anything. A serious waste of time and breath. Be clear.

So, come to the front door with me. Don't come around the side and certainly not around the back. Ugh. I remember a motherly-type woman approaching me one day at lunch when I was in Bible School. The Christmas banquet was approaching, and she asked me if I had a date. I didn't. She then told me that a few fellows had expressed an interest in asking me out but were afraid to. Afraid??? So if I did go out with one of them, would they be afraid to talk to me? Get to know me? Would I have to keep the conversation going the entire evening and babysit them, essentially, because they were so afraid of me?Am I any different from any other girl in the school that they should be so afraid of me? WHAT?!?  I told this lady that if these guys were too afraid to talk to me/ask me out themselves, then I wasn't interested.

The stop sign.

I am on the verge of withdrawing my participation with Facebook because I find it disturbing to receive updates on my mother's health via general postings on the site. It would be a kindness to me if this was either communicated to me directly or not at all. The familiar winter of being exiled from the family circle has been a regular occurrence in my life over the last 25 + years. There are two that are deemed acceptable, and I. am. not. According to the family system, (which is not my operating system.) Everyone else has gotten used to it and functions well enough in it.  But I don't. I won't. I don't think it's okay.

There's the one who calls the shots, who withdraws communication/warmth/any type of acknowledgment. Then there's the other parent who decides to go along with it - engaged in warm dialogue one moment, then adopting the perspective of the shot caller. Immediate withdrawal and condemnation. The "good" children benefit with more positive attention and kindness, since it is now split among two versus the three. They may still acknowledge the exiled one but follow the set rules.

I understood the rules of this system when I was a child, even though I didn't agree with it then or now. Enter the Stop Sign. To those within the system that still go along with it for whatever reason: I know it is what you know. It may be comfortable (for you - you've spent a lot less time on the outside, alone.) There's a lot of heat to take for disrupting that system in any way. I get it. But I don't understand how you can go along with it and try to grow in relationship with me. The system demands an allegiance that is contrary to a healthy, thriving relationship. You may be able to maintain a certain peace while in the system, but is it okay if that same system is damaging-condemning-unhealthy-and-unkind?

And when you were the banished one. condemned. barred from entry into the family system, for whatever crime or infraction, real or imagined. I. stood. with. you. I objected to the imbalanced, partial, and unjust sentencing and stood with you. I took an active stance of objecting to the system, as a child and as an adult.

You may not be able to give me that same support, but I do give it to myself now. Hence, the Stop Sign in the midst of my winter.

This isn't my indirect way of trying to let you know where I'm coming from - it's already been communicated directly. This is me processing for myself, acknowledging for myself the changes I've made. I've participated in the system by not protecting myself and not fully embracing the possibilities of winter. Snow angels. Sledding. Too often I sat and waited and hoped longingly to be included into the "warmth" of the system. It wasn't to be for me. And I have discovered that there are for me other sources of that warmth, starting with the Love of the Heavenly Father and His Family. And I guard that warmth in my own heart with the Stop Sign.

I know this processing out loud can be yucky to read. Uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Even Tiresome. Part of putting up the Stop Sign is me speaking out. This is my journey.


I Saw Jesus...Please Read

The following post is from my friend Mark's blog, Dead Man's Travelog.  I thought what he wrote was so important that I wanted to post it here on my blog and ask you, my readers, to please pray.  And please consider a response.  Many of us may not be in the St. Louis area (I'm not either), but we can still reach out in some way.  I know there are a lot of needs out there.  And we can't do everything.  But we can do something.  We are called, as the Body of Christ, to be His mouth to speak the truth of His great love, His arms to embrace others, listening ears, compassionate eyes...  Here's Mark:  

Especially in a world of with Facebook and Twitter, it seems that Matthew 6:1-4 has been all but completely thrown to the wind. You know, it's the verse that says we shouldn't do good deeds to be seen by others, and that we should actually try to "not let the left hand know what the right is doing." There are things my wife and I have done (and regularly do) that nobody knows about except the recipient(s), and we like it that way. However, there are times when it is right to say something, and this is one of those exceptions. You'll see why soon.

Further in Matthew, chapter 25, we read that Jesus says, "In as much as you do it to the least of these, you do it to me." I met 'Jesus' today and he was in bad shape. My heart is very heavy because I don't know what the next move could/should be.

At 12:30 this afternoon I was heading home on Hwy 70 after playing golf for five hours. Someone paid my way to take part in a scramble and I joined for the fellowship. 

As I was replaying the worst golf strokes in my mind I drove past a woman hitchhiking. It's not often you see a hitchhiker anymore, much less a woman. I immediately started praying protection over her so that wrong person would not pick her up. Then I heard the Holy Spirit say, "You pick her up." I used to do that all the time when I was single, but being married and a father, I want to use wisdom. I checked to make sure my spirit bore witness and yes, it was 100%. I turned around, headed back the other way, and then retraced my path to hopefully find her.

When I pulled up behind the woman I could see something was wrong with her legs. She wasn't just bowlegged, she was hobbling. I checked traffic, pulled out and then moved to where I was in front of her. She excited hobbled up as I reached over and opened the passenger door. She got in, tears in her eyes, and kept repeating, "Thank you, thank you, thank you." We finally got to introductions and I learned her name was Cathy. She immediately started telling me about how she gives to others without expecting anything in return. She apparently opens her little apartment to neighborhood kids and feeds them to the point that she has virtually nothing left for herself. She also takes in animals that shelters are going to put to sleep and feeds them at her own expense. She kept saying, "You're it! You're the way it's coming back to me." I told her I am happy to do it, glad I could help, and that I expect nothing in return. I then asked her about her legs and ended up finding out much more. Here's a quick summary:

1) Starting at 12 years old, she was raped on a regular basis by her real dad.
2) Her mom remarried and her step-dad was an alcoholic who beat her for years.
3) She is 54 and has two sons, 30 and 20. The 30 yr old is in jail.
4) Her husband committed suicide by hanging himself.
5) She ran an escort service in the 80's.
6) In her early 20's she was hit by a drunk driver. Both her legs were crushed and her pelvis shattered.
7) She is very poor and, although she didn't come right out and say this, I think she turns tricks to pay for her apartment and food.

She told me that she has several pins in her legs, but due to repeated falling, they have worked their way out and some have even pierced the skin. She showed me her lower leg and knee. Trust me, she's not lying. Her leg looks like it has been piecemealed together. She said she had walked four miles before I picked her up and had fallen twice. That was hard enough to hear. She then said, "I don't have a car so I have to get rides. 99.9 percent of the guys that pick me up give me $30 in exchange for a bl**j*b." I was taken back by how blunt she was but counteracted quickly, "Well first of all, as a male, I'm embarrassed and saddened that there are people out there who treat you like that." She began to weep and exclaimed how degrading it was. I then told her that not only am I going to give her (amount) dollars, I don't want anything, nothing whatsoever, in return. Several times during the trip she broke down and sobbed. I spoke to her of God's compassion, unconditional love, and how much value she has in His eyes and mine. She gave me her number and insisted that I call her and let her pay me back after she gets her disability check in a couple weeks, but I told her I meant what I said about not wanting anything in return. I offered to drive her all the way to her door, but she wanted to be dropped off at QT. She apparently was going to call someone to take her grocery shopping. I offered to take her, but she was adamant that it would take too long. She let me pray for her, hugged me, and then hobbled over to the pay phone. I left and went home, but she has not left my thoughts.

I know I've posted the Keith Green song "Asleep in the Light" on this blog before, but I have to post a couple lines from it again.
'Cause He brings people to you door
And you turn them away
As you smile and say
"God bless you, be at peace"
And all heaven just weeps
'Cause Jesus came to your door
You've left him out on the streets

I can't help but think...Yes, I picked 'Jesus' up, but then I dropped him off at QT (I know that might sound funny, but I'm being completely serious). Could I have done more? Should I have done more? So, I have a thought. I'm looking for several people who would like to celebrate this woman's worth with me and my wife. I would like to arrange to pick her up (probably at QT), but I think it would be awesome if a small group took her out to eat as a way of telling her she's valuable. That would actually serve two purposes: First, she would know that people care about her and want to help. Secondly, those of you who went would see the kind of heart she has, as well as her leg situation. You'll see that nothing at all was embellished. To be perfectly honest, I am not sure how to best help, but this would be a start. As a group we could pray and brainstorm about what to do further.

If you have read this far, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. I'm hoping I have some friends who will take me up on this. Please email me via Facebook or the email address in my blog profile if you want to be a part of it. Thank you!  Mark


Self Portraits

With the previous post still ringing in my heart, I decided to do a series of self-portraits.
I see joy and peace in my eyes.
Because of Him.
God is so good.

Under His Wings...

© Jason Gehrman |
He will cover you with his feathers. 
He will shelter you with his wings. 
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.   
Psalm 91:4
All hell has broken loose, yet I find myself in a tranquil peace.  A surprising and gentle peace.  Despite the ragings of the storm.  And they, the human storms, are raging against me.  Because I won't bend in the fierce and familiar winds, demanding that I bow to their reality.  Which is and has been for a very long time different from my own.  

Instead, I find comfort in the cleft of the Rock, which shields me from the storm.  And where He whispers to me words of peace and comfort.  Words that build and bring life.  He finds me lovely and acceptable, no matter what.  He values me, because He uniquely created me.  It brings to mind a message I once shared...

A beautiful vase with intricate details.  Shattered.  Who would mourn the broken state of this vase the most?  The bystanders who saw it break?  The place where it had been displayed among other vases?  Or its creator who painstakingly put together this one of a kind piece?  

While others might sweep up the pieces to throw out and declare it damaged beyond repair, the creator still sees the amazing, original handiwork and design.  The creator alone, with his artistic genius, still sees the potential and possibilities.  He lovingly gathers up the pieces and heads back into his studio, determined to redeem his creation.  And if that meant he himself would have to be broken in order to restore the beautiful vase, then he would choose that.  And He did.

The definition of redeem (from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary):
  • to buy back, to get or win back
  • to free from what distresses or harms, as to free from captivity by payment of ransom 
  • to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental 
  • to release from blame or debt  
  • to free from the consequences of sin 
  • to change for the better  
  • repair, restore
  • to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby
  • to remove the obligation of by payment   
  • to exchange for something of value  
  • to make good, fulfill
  • to atone for <redeem an error> 
  • to offset the bad effect of , to make worthwhile   
Because of Jesus' blood, I am no longer a creepy, crawly caterpillar bound to life with my head down, slowly navigating life.  Hopeless.  No!  His resurrection power has supernaturally transformed me into a butterfly, full of joy and exuberance, delicate and beautiful, light as the air, feasting on the sweet nectar of His way of life.

The terrible voices that still try to define who I am and what I am still roar.  And at times I have been distracted by the sheer volume of their declarations.  I have accepted and bowed under the strain of the burdens they have placed on me by receiving their declarations as truth.  I have entered back into the familiar prison of shame and neglect.  But the lock has long been broken, and I realized that I could choose to walk out on my own accord.  And never enter back into that place.

This may be one of the most important posts I've ever written, at least for myself.  I looked into the mirror this morning and put my hand to my cheek.  I saw the delicate features my Creator chose for me.  And I smiled and liked what I saw.

Despite years of torment and abuse.  First as a child.  The slaps across the face.  Being kicked into a corner.  Pulled by my hair.  Ignored for months at a time.  Never a safe place to confide that others had damaged my innocence.  And as an adult.  Adored if my outside was pretty and perfect.  Still not a safe place to turn to when those with vile intentions circled around.  The foulest words spilling out when words of love and acceptance never did.  An attempt to soil every sacred moment of my wedding, the birth of my firstborn, birthdays, graduations, etc.  How many years I could not look at myself in the mirror.  I could not look into the reflection and see what my eyes could not hide.  I share this because this is the reality of what I lived through, what I have had to overcome.  These declarations are important to me:

I am not a monster.  I am beautiful from the inside out.  My heart is pure.  I am not perfect and never will be, but God is pleased with me and continues to work in my life.  I am loving, compassionate and kind.  I have tremendous gifts to share and do make an impact in this world for good.  I am worth loving.  And as a first step, I will make sure I love myself.    

I feel sorrow for what never was and what may never be.  I grieve that.  And now close to death, rather than make peace, the puppeteer stills tries to control...but my strings have been cut.  

Today my eyes are at peace.  I feel a warm shield covering me.

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? 
   No, my strength comes from God, 
      who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. 

He won't let you stumble, 
      your Guardian God won't fall asleep. 
   Not on your life! Israel's 
      Guardian will never doze or sleep. 

God's your Guardian, 
      right at your side to protect you— 
   Shielding you from sunstroke, 
      sheltering you from moonstroke. 

God guards you from every evil, 
      he guards your very life. 
   He guards you when you leave and when you return, 
      he guards you now, he guards you always.    
Psalm 121              



A picture of my precious baby and me
 Have you heard the song "HELD" by Natalie Grant?

Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking  
why this happens to us
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held
It's a haunting song, addressing the difficult parts of life...and reminding us that through it all God is here. And He holds us, as our hearts are breaking, when tragedies strike and we don't understand why. 

I need that reminder.  

Sometimes the nightmare, because it's familiar, feels safer than the unknown.  Sometimes the voices screaming the lies are easier to believe because they're so much louder than the faltering voice of truth and hope hiding in your heart.

But truth and hope are powerful forces that can overcome the worst that life can dish out.

On Monday I removed myself from hell.  Hell is a place where lies perpetuate and venomous words flow freely.  As a child, I survived by telling myself over and over again that one day, I'd be old enough and strong enough to walk away.  As an adult, I've tried numerous times to reach out and try to build some kind of decent relationship with her.  But like a magnetic pull too strong to resist, each time the choice to record something new or rehearse the unforgiving tapes arises, she chooses to rehash the list of sins real or imagined.  Never letting them go. 

Just like walking out of the house and away from the echoes of vile words into the bright sunshine, my life is out from under the shadow of that hell.

Healing and rebuilding a life based on truth and hope has taken more than twenty years.  My whole adult life.  Set backs from the absurd and indecent behavior at the most sacred moments of my life, but progress and continued healing nevertheless.

Saturday was my sister's graduation, which I attended with my nephew.  We went to the beach and had dinner with her closest friends.  A lovely celebration.  Sunday was Mother's Day, a nightmare. And Monday was the day after, nightmare continuing.  After seeking refuge at my sister's, we spent the rest of my visit chatting, encouraging one another, and trying to outdo each other on the Wii.  That night, I soaked in her tub, surrounded by candles.  Even with a very early flight, I slept deeply that night, no bad dreams causing me to toss and turn.

Only God knows why someone would think and speak the worst about me.  It has nothing to do with me, really.  It's her own troubled heart revealing itself.  Mercy, Lord.

Truth and hope reside in the fact that this is what God, the Creator of the Universe, My Eternal Lord and Savior, My Ultimate Parent, Who lovingly put my being together says...

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11)

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39)

I pray, Father, that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within me, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. [Adapted from Ephesians 3:16-21]


How's Your Race Going?

This photo of my boy always brings a smile to my face.  It was taken a few years ago, at a Halloween Carnival at our church in Georgia. 

The checkered flags as well as something a guest speaker said at church last week about a vision for my life have me pondering my purpose, my life journey, my race.  

"...and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us."                      
Hebrews 12:1
The roles of my life (wife, mother, daughter, sister, etc.) require a vision for me to fulfill God's best in these areas.  But beyond those, what has God placed in my heart?  As the speaker shared about vision and picking up,/dusting off any that we may have placed on a shelf in the back closet of our lives, I immediately thought of something I felt that God had spoken to me years ago.  I'd spent some time thinking about it before we moved from Maryland, and I made a discovery then.  Though I'm not ready to share specifics, each move has made the vision more difficult for me to fulfill in my own strength.  I totally need God's help to fulfill this vision now more than ever...due partly to geography, age, the current state of things vs. what fulfilling the vision requires.  Like Abraham having a son in his old age or Joseph's dream that his brothers mocked, a God-given vision needs GOD to bring it to pass.  My part is to walk with Him with my eyes on His Word and His promises and not the circumstances.  

It's not something I would have come up with for my life, but the seeds were planted even in my childhood.  Even in my name.  It involves the area in my life that has been the most difficult, the most attacked.  And I declare that God will be glorified in this area, that there will be victory and the fulfillment of God's plan.  He's the One with the plan, and I just need to follow Him.  Have Your way God!  As the Word declares, You are the Potter, Artist Extraordinaire!