My Son, "Dream On"

I'm not a "glitter girl," but I was wearing a gown that shimmered.

I'm not a "look at me" personality, but it was my turn to be center-stage.

I'm not a "dancing queen," but my number was called.

The mother-son dance was here. My daughter Maggie whispered in my ear just before the dance,

"Mom, you can do this."

Then, Davis walked over, took my hand and led me to the spacious dance floor. With Ben Rector's lyrics in the background, the lights twinkling overhead, and the gentle breeze blowing around us, I looked up into my 6' 2" son's eyes, and savored my "little boy."

For 3 more minutes, he was all mine. I remembered my friend telling me earlier to pretend no one was watching, so at that moment, just he and I existed.

We slowly swayed to the lyrics:

"...Dream on,

Dream on,

Even when you're afraid all your dreams may be gone,

Just dream on,

Dream on..."

I took a moment to affirm Davis. I told him how he was like his daddy: tall, dark, handsome, a leader, and a "fisher of men."

I then told him how he was like me: a deep well, desiring others to go deep with him, kindhearted, and gospel driven.

The song kept playing; we kept swaying.

Words from the past: "Dream on."

Words for the future: "Dream on."

I told him I was so proud of him and that I loved him,

And, and...

Then--my cue; the song was nearing its end. The words came so quickly--

"Dream on,

Dream on,

To infinity and far beyond;

Maybe they'll take you fabulous places,

Maybe you'll wake up right where you belong."

With these words, I had one last twirl before I handed him over to Acacia his bride.

I wanted the last stanza of the song to be theirs.  

I stepped back to the edge of the dance floor, now empty-handed, but heart full of certainty.

He was right where he belonged.

She is now his number one.

Can a heart rejoice and weep at the same time?

My dress sparkled, my eyes glistened, and my hands folded in a prayer.

I watched the newlyweds gracefully move together, swaying to the first stanza of their life:

"Dream on,

Dream on,

When the world says you're crazy just tell them they're wrong;

When the wold says you're crazy just tell them they're wrong,

and dream on."

Yes, my son, with your beautiful bride in your arms...dream on.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2023
By Chris Baxter

My Full-Circle God

After almost three years of waiting, wondering if I would be able to have more children, my son Davis was born. The experience of having two miscarriages had actually birthed within me a more grateful heart. God's goodness showed up as I held this tangible bundle of love. In fact, my "lullaby song" to him as an infant and toddler became "God is so Good." Each nap time and also when I put him down at night, I would hold Davis in my arms, and sing softly in his ear:

God is so good,

God is so good,

God is so good,

He's so good to me.

Whenever I hear this song now, I can't help but think of God's faithfulness through this trial and the sweetness of his gift, in his choice time.

...Fast forward almost 28 years. Davis is "all grown up" now. Joys and trials are all mixed in his life journey, and of course, as his momma, I have experienced the emotion of it all. His story continues, as it does in each of our lives.

I'm thrilled to say he has found himself a Jesus-lovin' woman whom he will marry next month! Do you know how many years I've prayed for Acacia, not knowing her name?

Only a couple of weeks ago, I went to a bridal shower for her in Orlando, Florida. The weekend was jammed packed full of wedding planning, meeting her friends, seeing the venue, talking through the ceremony, and more! On Sunday morning of this fast-paced weekend, we paused for a bit and went to the church where she and Davis met.

There, after God's word was taught, it was time to worship. And as I stood by my future-daughter-in-law, with the music playing, her heart and hands in lifted high to our faithful God, a song began to play, none other than:

God is so good,

God is so good,

God is so good,

He's so good to me.

Right there in the church row, I had a personal moment with my full-circle God. He took me back and he brought me forward. 28 years in one stanza.

God loves to do that, you know--to bring us back to a place of remembrance so that we can worship him in the present all the more.

This happens all through Scripture. We see it with Moses. The very mountain that he saw the burning bush is the very place where he brought the Israelites to worship after they crossed the Red Sea. Full Circle God.

And of course, we see it with Jesus. He left his rightful throne; he came to earth; he fulfilled his purpose; he gave us his Spirit; and he went back to his throne in heaven. Full Circle God.

So as I stood there by Acacia, I worshiped in the moment, while also seeing the little baby I once held, thanking the Lord for the small gift that grew, and then, my lullaby whisper became a shout of praise:

God is so good,

God is so good,

God is so good,

He's so good to me.

I love my Full Circle God.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023
By Chris Baxter

Back When I said "Yes" to my Man

It's been 34 years since I said "yes" to my man.

He had just pulled an all-nighter as a medical resident in a Memphis hospital. I had driven from Jackson, MS to visit him for the weekend in his home town, Hernando, where he was temporarily staying at his parents.

We were sitting on his grandmother's porch swing next door...

A small country town,

a white farm house,

a definite southern charm.

We were swinging slow; I was hoping much.

There were no hidden photographers, no cell phones in our hands, no thought of recording the event,

just him... and me...and a ring in his pocket.

After some small talk about nothing and then large talk about big things, he then quoted Proverbs 18:22: He who finds a wife finds a good thing...

Then, he got on one knee and told me something--I don't remember what it was, but it was sweet.

The next question was only 4 words, but at the same time, it was life-altering. After only 3 months of dating him, Mac asked, "Will you marry me?"

Wow, I had waited for this;

I had dreamt about this,

and here I was, living this!

Of course I said "yes," not in the least bit knowing what that meant other than a ring on my finger and an "I do" at the altar.

My dreams hadn't gone past my wedding day.

We got up from the porch swing and knocked on his Mimi's screen door. She was the first one to see the ring; the first to hug us; the first to congratulate us. It was a memorable celebration of three.

Shortly afterwards, I was met with an embrace from Mac's mama who was waiting at their house. I remember her saying, with her thick southern accent and deep rooted faith, that she had been praying for me, Mac's future wife, for years, and she was so thankful that God answered her prayer through me.

Those life-giving words filled my cup, and they didn't cost a dime.

The good news spread...by the house telephone that was attached to a wall. Excitement was in the air rather than on a feed.

Wedding plans were made, mostly by my task-oriented mama, some specifics by my dreamy self. Next came showers and gifts, southern style. (Anybody need a sliver tray, silver tea set, silver place settings?)

And so, just like that, we were married in my growin'-up-church in Jackson, MS, six months later to the day.

Mac and I have come a long way together these 34 years.

Lots of life. Lots of growth. Lots of change.

It's a different world than way back when I said "yes" to my man.

But if he were to ask me to marry him again now, I would hope he would do it the exact same way.

Just him...and me, and a ring in his pocket.

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Saturday, October 14, 2023
By Chris Baxter

What Do I Do When my Attitude Stinks?

Yesterday morning,I went on a brisk walk. I needed a slight attitude adjustment and I thought some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise would help me out. Interestingly, but not conveniently, while I was in my forward progression down the street, so was a neighborhood garbage truck. It was rather uncanny; my pace and the truck’s duties seemed to line up perfectly. The large truck would stop to collect garbage while I moved ahead; but then, it would invariably catch up with me, and we’d be side by side again. This systematic timing went on and on. I turned right, and to my disgruntlement, so did the garbage truck. I couldn’t seem to escape its route or the awful smell that went along with it.

 

While breathing in the not-so-fresh-air, my mind made a connection: What if our thoughts and emotions had smells attached to them? What if the age-old phrase, your attitude stinks, were actually true in the heavenly realm? What odor would worry put off? Or bitterness? Or unforgiveness? 2 Timothy 2:16-17 refers to empty chatter spreading like gangrene—now that’s stinky for sure!

 

How do we rid ourselves of the “stink?” Soon after my walk, the Lord directed me to these verses: O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! May my prayer be counted as incense before you; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering (Psalm 141:1-2). Can it be that our prayers “smell good” to God?

 

I looked further into “incense offerings” and found Exodus 30:7-8: And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on (the altar). Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. My bible’s commentary explained that the incense represented the prayers and praises of God’s people. Also, the incense helped extinguish the smell of the dead animals that had just been sacrificed. With the explanation of this ancient practice, here is my present-day thought: maybe when we lay down our worry, pride, bitterness, or you-name-it-stinky-sin, and change them into prayers instead, then these new words become the fragrance that rises to heaven.

 

Today, let’s rid ourselves of the garbage-truck-odors, and then replace them with a lovely aroma of prayer instead. For me:

I will lay down worrying about my children, and instead, pray for each one of them by name.

I will lay down resentment towards my coworker, and instead, ask God to bless him.

I will lay down negativity, and instead, lift up praises to the One who gives me breath.

 

It’s humbling to think that our words can be counted as incense before the Lord. Let’s trust that he not only enjoys the sound of our voices, but that he also delights in the sweet fragrance of our uplifted prayers.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023
By Chris Baxter

Overthinking is Under-trusting

Overthinking is under-trusting. This phrase came to me in the wee hours of the morning as I was tossing and turning over something HUGE in my life. Ironically, I now don’t even remember the reason for my fretting. At the time, however, I was all twisted up, both in my bedcovers and in my mind as I took turns playing the ShouldI/ Shouldn’t I and What if games. I’m not only the queen of second-guessing,I’m the queen of 222nd-guessing.

 

When I toss and turn, I’m like that double-minded individual that’s mentioned in Scripture who asks for wisdom but doubts when receiving it. “For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James1:7-8).

 

What is the remedy to these unnecessary wrestling matches within my mind? Here are three thoughts that helped me remember where to turn:

 

1.    Choose to trust God’s promises.

It’s one thing to know God’s promises, but it’s another thing to believe them. In times of confusion, will I cling to God’s truth or will I hold onto my fabrications? Questions such as these: What if I’m making a mistake in this decision, or, Did I really hear from God, can be replaced with promises such as this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you”(Psalm 32:8). In this verse alone, God is promising to instruct me…to teach me… to counsel me. So instead of twirling with anxiety, I can repeatedly thank him for these promises and then walk confidently by faith in his leading.

 

2.    Choose to trust God’sSpirit.

I confess: I tend to overthink his Spirit. Sadly, this fleshly pause can sometimes lead to complete withdrawal. When God’s whisper enters my heart, nudging me to do his will, my choice is to either press forward in faith or shrink back in fear. Even if I happen to be “mis-hearing”him, can I not trust my Good Shepherd enough to lead me back onto his right path? Certainly, I can! He is that good. I must remember, God looks at my faith-filled heart, rather than my flawless steps.

 

3.    Choose to trust wise friends and mentors.

These carefully selected people can help confirm God’s truth in my life. Sharing my thoughts with those who will listen, encourage, advise, and pray is a built-in blessing from God. He knows we need each other!

 

With these things in place, no moreover-thinking! No more tossing and turning with needless mind-games! Instead, fully trust! Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:7). It’s time for me to follow God’s lead without hesitation.

Will you join me? We’ve got kingdom work to do—no doubt about it.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your living word and your abiding Spirit. Thank you for wise friends and mentors that you have placed in my life. In times of over-thinking, help me to recall your truths and trust your voice. Keep my heart in line with yours and make my footsteps firm. I want to move forward in faith every single day, confidently living for you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2023
By Chris Baxter

Consider the Butterfly

I love how God uses all of his creation to speak both practical and spiritual lessons into our lives.

For example in Proverbs (ch. 30), he tells us to observe the ants, the badgers, the locusts, the lizards, the lion, the strutting cock, and the male goat.

Amazingly, all have something to teach us.


The butterfly is no exception.

First of all, we must consider that this living spectacle starts its life as a little green caterpillar. The unassuming creature then wraps itself tightly in a silk cocoon. In this quiet place, something marvelous takes place:

the eyes grow larger, and the intricate wings and antennae begin to blossom into maturity.

And then, at just the right time, the new creation breaks free.

The dash of color lifts and lands, lifts and lands, bringing its color to the world.

The lesson for us is simple and obvious:

Have you ever felt "cocooned" at times in your life?

Insignificant. Void of color. No evidence of movement. Wondering about your purpose and questioning God's plan.

Then consider the butterfly.  

Allow your Creator to come and wrap his love around you;

sit with him; rest with him, alone, and acknowledge the strong and trustworthy hold he has on you.

Ask him to change your impatient heart into a peaceful one, and allow him to work His purpose into your "wings".

Be submissive to his divine work in you.

Believe that what he has started, he will also complete.

And when its time...trust that he will open a passageway and ask you to fly in freedom,

bringing his dashes of color to this dark world.

Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  II Corinthians 5:17

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Wednesday, April 12, 2023
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

How should I shine?

No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.  Luke 8:16

Dear Lord,

You gave us your eternal light for a purpose. Help us to remove the covering of fear or doubt or passivity that hinders your truth from shining out of us. Instead fill us with strong courage and active faith. May your light within us shine out on whomever we encounter today.  Amen.