Parenting (and Praying)

Over the past 18 months, I've become a grandmother to two adorable little angels. With each of their very first breaths, I entered and re-entered into the "grandparent-craze-club". I totally get it now, and I will try really hard to spare you of my several hundred pictures at this moment.

As I became Mimi, my oldest daughter became Mommy. Can I tell you how exhausted I am by watching her manage these two sometimes-human-angels? Did I really do ALL of that oh so long ago?

In reflection of my mothering years, here is a look at each stage from the rearview mirror:

Newborn-Toddler: Nurturing, (and praying). Primary questions come to mind, "Are they present and accounted for?" "Did they get fed?" "Are they somewhat clean?"

Elementary years: Teaching, (and praying). Teaching how to brush their teeth, how to read and write, and how to get along with their siblings are just a few things that caused grey hairs to sprout all over my head.

Pre Teen-Teen: Training, (and praying). Oh my, these years. Talk about grey hairs, now add wrinkles around the eyes and several more forehead creases! When I ponder too long on four different teenagers learning how to drive, I have a come-apart all over again. And then there's teaching how to manage blooming emotions and teaching how to respect authority... so much, so much.

Young Adult: Listening, (and praying). As each one of my kids took flight, phone calls were filled with lots of highs and lows. I listened carefully; I also learned to read between the lines. They felt far away for the first time, but somehow, (I believe it was through my prayers for them), they were even closer in my heart.

Adult Children: Watching, (and praying). What a paradox, adult children. They're fully grown, yet they're still growing. I'm in this stage now, and I am more of an observer; like watching my daughter become a mommy. I'm also watching each of my kids grow up as they deal with their real life "stuff." Career paths, relationships, faith. Sometimes it's so awesome, and sometimes it's just not. When they were toddlers at my feet, I could pick them up and just hold them when it hurt. Now, the BEST thing (and sometimes the only thing) I can give them is prayer.

No matter where you are in your parenting, prayer is the lifeline, for you and for your kids. Remember, you are talking to the One who knows your child better than you do--in each and every stage! Believe this crazy truth: God can out-love even a mother's full on loving heart! So talk to Him.

This reminds me of a motto that the Lord whispered to me way back in those 24/7 toddler years. It's this:
"Talk a whole lot to God about your kids, and talk a whole lot to your kids about God."

So parent, choose to nurture, teach, train, listen, watch, and pray.

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Thursday, June 17, 2021
By Chris Baxter

Discipline: Never Wanted but Always Needed

Twenty-ish years ago I was a mother to a 3 year old, a 4 year old, a 6 year old, and an 8 year old. Not only was I “mommy” to these darling-made-of-dust-angels, I was also their homeschool teacher. By God’s grace, much of these years are a distant blur, but let me just say, when I couldn’t handle some of these small but stubborn pupils in my class, they were sent to the principal’s office. Of course, the principal was none other than their no nonsense, but fun-loving daddy.

Now fast forward a very long blink to ten years later: 13, 14, 16, 18–with emphasis on the word “teen.” These four bigger and more complex earthlings entered a whole new world called public school. New challenges were met, new rules were laid down; and yes, more than my husband and I wanted, these rules were broken. Thus, consequences followed. There was even a time when Mac and I made a trip to the real principle’s office in the real high school on account of one our delightful offspring.

After writing these two paragraphs, I need a nap.

In all seriousness, as I think back on these years of my own parenting, I ask myself, “What if we didn’t spank, or use time-out, or deal appropriately with our toddlers? Or in the later years, what if we didn’t take away the phones, or car keys, or other privileges for our teenagers?” As parents, It was our sincere hope that our loving discipline would contribute to a maturing child.

Likewise for you and me, God disciplines us to mature us. We as humans innately think that our way is better than God’s choice path, so we stubbornly or defiantly (or even innocently) go for it! Thankfully, our good, good Father enters our waywardness not only to mercifully rescue us, but also to gracefully teach us.

Discipline does not feel good, but it is good. It’s never really wanted, but it’s always truly needed in order for us to grow. We WILL make mistakes, and consequences WILL follow; let’s choose to be refined by them, not buried under them. Whether we are in our toddler, teenage, or twenties concerning our faith-walk with our loving Father, let’s receive what He gives us with a teachable heart.

He says to each one of us, “You are mine; I love you, and I want to lead you into what is best for you. Sweetheart, it’s time to grow up.”

Trust His gentle love; submit to His refining hand.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Again, my child, Remember Who You Are

The challenging words below are not new. I have set them before each of my children as they entered high school, and then again, as they have gone on to their respective colleges. And now, for the fourth (and final) time, we are packing up the suburban to drop our "baby" off at the University of Tennessee. I will not go into the emotional weight of this reality for me as a mom, otherwise I would not make it through this post! However, my words to Emmy are the same as they were to her siblings as they each stepped into their new chapter of life.

"Emmy, always, always, always, REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE. Say to your own heart first, and then proclaim this to the world"...

By the grace of God, I am who I am.

I am what the world calls a "Jesus freak," but what I call "saved by grace."I am living for the One who died for me.

I salt the earth with His kindness; I light the world with His love.

I choose to walk by faith and not by sight, and to dance to the beat of a different drum.

I am the one who has Power beyond my own strength, Peace beyond my own understanding, and Purpose beyond my own pleasure.

I am the one who answers to the Commander of the Universe; and yet, I am also calmed by His intimate Spirit that lives in me.

Because of Christ Jesus, I am living Life to the fullest--yesterday, today, and FOREVER.

I am changed; I am more than I am.I am a vessel that holds a treasure, a lamp that shines a light, and a well that springs a fountain.

And with these abiding truths, I am the one who pursues the lost and broken, the way He so passionately pursued me. I am His ambassador. I am His image bearer. I am His messenger.

By the grace of God, I am who I am.

I am a Christ follower. I am free.

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Monday, August 10, 2015
By Chris Baxter

You're Invited to Listen

Dear Readers,Not too long ago I had a conversation with Michael Easley on his radio broadcast show called InContext. If you have the opportunity, I welcome you to listen to my thoughts and stories about life and God, highs and lows, messing up and maturing.

The interview can be found here: http://michaelincontext.com/listen/

Resting in Him alone.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015
By Chris Baxter

Magic Kingdom Embraced...

There are two kinds of people when it comes to analyzing Disney World: those who embrace it wholeheartedly (playful people), and those who reject it emphatically (purposeful people). I belong to the latter group. Reading a book from cover to cover is about as fun as I get. Let’s face it, purposeful people need playful people.

Needless to say, when my 17 year old daughter Emmy and I were invited to Disney World by my 18 year old niece Tyler, and my sister-in-lawTonya to celebrate Tyler’s high school graduation, I was a bit taken aback. But then, of course, love took over, and I was committed (sorta).

Tonya organized the trip with a 4-day park hopper, which included colorful magic wristbands to keep things moving, along with a dreamy hotel. We even rode the Magical Express from the Orlando airport. While on the bus going to the hotel, I prayed, please Lord help me embrace this adventure. Make me a playful person.

Chris, Tyler, Emmy, Tonya

Well the Lord heard, and He answered. The four of us conquered Disney with happy ferver. With  my Cinderella crown adorning my head, I rode just about every ride–fast, slow, high, low, and everything in between. I had one near-panic-attack after another. We screamed, we laughed. Well, maybe I screamed, they laughed, but it was awesome– face painting, funnel cakes, fast passes, and fireworks. We ended the trip with nighttime dancing in downtown Disney. Togetherness, with the purpose of being playful, it’s good for the soul.

Wow, this could turn into an advertisement for Disney if I’m not careful! From rejector to embracer. Hooray for Magic Kingdom!

But more than a shout out for Disney, I want to make two quick purposeful observations:

1. There is another Kingdom that exists.  Believe it or not, it’s even greater than Walt Disney’s! This Kingdom begins now by faith, but also speaks of a future where there will be no pain and no tears, there will be fullness joy and abundant peace, and it will be both radiant and spectacular. When Jesus came from heaven to earth, He said, The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:15). Interestingly, there will be two kinds of people when it comes to this Kingdom as well: those who embrace and those who reject. Tell me, why can we, the world, so quickly embrace an animated mouse named Mickey and all he offers, but then turn riduculing away from a King that promises us the real truth: that all those who believe in Him will live happily ever after? Read all about it in His Word! It’s more than magical; it’s majestic.

playful Emmy, thrilled with her peacock face

2. I’ll end this post where I started. Purposeful people need playful people. So all you who consider reading a book as a thrilling experience, put your book down and go find a zippity-do-da friend. Step into their world, let your hair down, be free. Maybe even book a trip to Disney…

purposeful Chris, terrified by a “living” dinosaur

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Monday, July 7, 2014
By Chris Baxter

Remember Who You Are, revisited

On Saturday, I watched my "little boy" graduate from Ravenwood High School. Simply because his last name starts with "B", he was in charge of leading one side of the processional entry in the graduation ceremony. The moment I saw this 6'2" son of mine walking down the aisle as the graduation music played, dressed in his red robe and red hat, with the hundreds of other students in tow, I caught my breath. Up until this point, only my mind had accepted this milestone of his, but now my heart was involved.As I sat through the different graduation speeches, there was a  gentle whispering in my soul: remember who you are. This phrase took me back in time because I have spoken it to each of my kids over the years, especially when they leave one familiar place and walk into another. The culture, the media, and their peers persistently shout to each of them, telling them who they are "supposed to be"; but they too, must choose to be still and listen to the whispering truth that resides within their soul.When my older son Bink entered high school (he is now 21), I wrote words to define the phrase remember who you are; nothing fundamentally has changed over the passing years, except that my stake in the ground has been steadfastly pounded more firmly and more deeply. These words are for you as well, my fellow believer:

REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE

I am what the world calls a "Jesus freak," but what I call "saved by grace."I am living for the One who died for me.

I salt the earth with His kindness; I light the world with His love.

I choose to walk by faith and not by sight, and to dance to the beat of a different drum.

I am the one who has Power beyond my own strength, Peace beyond my own understanding, and Purpose beyond my own ambitions.

I am the one who answers to the Commander of the Universe; and yet, I am also calmed by His Spirit that lives in me.

Because of Christ Jesus, I am living Life to the fullest--yesterday, today, and FOREVER.

I am changed; I am more than I am.I am a vessel that holds a treasure, a lamp that shines a light, and a well that springs a fountain.

And with these abiding truths, I am the one who is pursuing YOU, my friend, the way He has passionately pursued me. I am His ambassador. I am His image bearer. I am His messenger.

By the grace of God, I am who I am.

I am a Christ follower. I am free.

So, as I sat in the midst of thousands of hopeful parents as well as supportive loved ones, all of us peering down into a sea of bright red robes, I found myself wanting to shout at the top of my lungs to my gentle giant sitting in the first chair, first row, "Davey, always, always, always remember who you are."

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Monday, May 26, 2014
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

Luring

And Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight--why the bush does not burn up." Exodus 3:3

Dear Lord,

Turn our heads to see your holiness. Pull our hearts towards your glory. Make us curious enough to walk towards you and willing enough to respond to all that you have in mind. Call us, challenge us, change us. Amen.