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

Mothering, a mixed bag of Emotions

For the past four days, I've had the privilege of having all four of my kids at home at the same time; the older they get, the less frequently this happens. We shared a few meals together, as well as laughter and love. No doubt, this momma cherished every minute.

And then yesterday, my 23 year old, Maggie, drove off to begin her first (short term) job as a registered nurse in Georgia. And this morning, my 21 year old, Bink, headed back to Haiti to serve at Hands and Feet for the summer months.

I think I can safely say that a common parental goal is to raise and then launch our kids as God-dependent, parent-independent, confident, Light bearing contributers to society, right? Why then, if they seem to be heading down this path, does it still bring an ache to my heart when I see them drive or fly away?

In contemplating the answer to the above question, I came to the NOT NEW conclusion that mothering is, and forever will be, a mixed bag of emotions. Over the span of almost two and a half decades in this non-paying job, I have been stretched to the limit, humbled to my kness, a jet stream of "wisdom", completely dumbfounded, overjoyed, underappreciated, really happy, really really angry, perplexed, at great peace, hysterical with laughter, just plain hysterical, utterly exhausted, delightfully surprised, momma-bear defensive, teddy bear affectionate, frustated beyond belief, content without questions; and then, this list cycles back around, and around. Can anyone relate?

In spite all of these conflicting emotions, however, we moms steadfstly press on.

So from one mother to another,  I would like to "gift" you with a few hopeful encouraging charges, taken from my weathered and worn mixed bag. Of course, these words of wisdom were graciously given to me when I was in the thick of things; I'm just passing them along to you:Give your kids TIME, give them your TOUCH, give them your TREASURE, and give them your "TALK".

I love my Mother; she gives and keeps giving!

TIME--no agenda on your part, no "let me fix you while we are here together"--just you, your loving, listening presence

TOUCH--hugs and high fives--touch brings healing--Jesus did this all the time

TREASURE-- a note on your child's pillow, her favorite little "happy", his favorite meal

TALK-- talk to your children a lot about your God, and talk to your God a lot about your children...teach and pray, two daily essentials (for more detail, see: A Mother's Privilege respitefortheweary.com)

Press into this job, mothers; it's one of the highest callings on this earth. There will be a return, God promises. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed dow, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

Someday, your children will rise up and call you blessed. Proverbs 31:28

You can do this moms. Stay the course. Your children need YOU.

And now, it is with a little sadness in my heart over my older kids' departures, mixed with a joyful desire for each of you to love your kids well,  that I want to genuinely proclaim, "Have a HAPPY Mother's Day!"For the past four days, I’ve had the privilege of having all four of my kids at home at the same time; the older they get, the less frequently this happens. We shared a few meals together, as well as laughter and love. No doubt, this momma cherished every minute.

And then yesterday, my 23 year old, Maggie, drove off to begin her first (short term) job as a registered nurse in Georgia. And this morning, my 21 year old, Bink, headed back to Haiti to serve at Hands and Feet for the summer months.

I think I can safely say that a common parental goal is to raise and then launch our kids as God-dependent, parent-independent, confident, Light bearing contributers to society, right? Why then, if they seem to be heading down this path, does it still bring an ache to my heart when I see them drive or fly away?

In contemplating the answer to the above question, I came to the NOT NEW conclusion that mothering is, and forever will be, a mixed bag of emotions. Over the span of almost two and a half decades in this non-paying job, I have been stretched to the limit, humbled to my kness, a jet stream of “wisdom”, completely dumbfounded, overjoyed, underappreciated, really happy, really really angry, perplexed, at great peace, hysterical with laughter, just plain hysterical, utterly exhausted, delightfully surprised, momma-bear defensive, teddy bear affectionate, frustated beyond belief, content without questions; and then, this list cycles back around, and around. Can anyone relate?

In spite all of these conflicting emotions, however, we moms steadfstly press on.

So from one mother to another,  I would like to “gift” you with a few hopeful encouraging charges, taken from my weathered and worn mixed bag. Of course, these words of wisdom were graciously given to me when I was in the thick of things; I’m just passing them along to you:

Give your kids TIME, give them your TOUCH, give them your TREASURE, and give them your “TALK”.

I love my Mother; she gives and keeps giving!

TIME–no agenda on your part, no “let me fix you while we are here together”–just you, your loving, listening presence
TOUCH–hugs and high fives–touch brings healing–Jesus did this all the time
TREASURE— a note on your child’s pillow, her favorite little “happy”, his favorite meal
TALK— talk to your children a lot about your God, and talk to your God a lot about your children…teach and pray, two daily essentials (for more detail, see: A Mother’s Privilege respitefortheweary.com)

Press into this job, mothers; it’s one of the highest callings on this earth. There will be a return, God promises. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed dow, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

Someday, your children will rise up and call you blessed. Proverbs 31:28

You can do this moms. Stay the course. Your children need YOU.

And now, it is with a little sadness in my heart over my older kids’ departures, mixed with a joyful desire for each of you to love your kids well,  that I want to genuinely proclaim, “Have a HAPPY Mother’s Day!”

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Saturday, May 10, 2014
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

Sent out

While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.  Acts 13:2-3

Dear Lord,

You have an appointed task for each one of us. Help us to encourage one another and pray for each other as we individually answer your call. Send us where you want us and be glorified as we use our unique gifts. Invade us with your Spirit and involve us with your ways. Amen.