30 years ago.

30 years ago…

  • Michael Jackson and The Police dominated the Billboard charts with their hits “billie jean” and “every breath you take.”
  • M*A*S*H ended its 11year streak where its finale became the highest rated episode in TV history.
  • Microsoft Word was first released.
  • McDonald’s introduced the McNugget.
  • Return of the Jedi, Risky Business, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Mr. Mom were cinematic gold.
  • Martin Luther King Day became a federal holiday.
  • Vanessa Williams became the first African-American to be crowned Miss America.
  • Tom Brokaw became the lead anchor for NBC Nightly News.

Also….

30 years ago, My Parents got married.
Which we all know is way more significant than the release of the McNugget.

There’s obvious reasons why that day was significant.. my forthcoming existence for one, but more so, the joining of two imperfect people choosing one another to journey through the highs and lows of life ahead. Together. Forever.
I’m so unbelievably grateful for their commitment exchanged with honest words that day and the decisions and choices daily made from then on to love one another.

As much as im petrified of parenting and the idea of shepherding little moldable and breakable hearts, I’ve seen the beauty that comes from seeds sown, time given, and love deeply shared. I feel fortunate to have experienced and continue to know full well all of those things as my everyday reality because of my own parents. Their example of generosity, selflessness, and love i will carry with me forever.

Mum and Pops,

Thank you for loving God with humbled hearts willing to be led and measured by His word. Thank you for loving and serving each other well and demonstrated what that means in the context of everyday life. And thank you for sowing seeds, giving extravagantly and freely of your time and attention, and loving us deeply.
Happy 30th Anniversary!! I pray that this is just the beginning of the redefining. That the next 30 years will be served and sown into with divine purpose and the fullness of joy.
Im so so grateful to call you MY parents.
Love yall so much!!

MD1

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in all things.

Gratitude is the main character trait of those with quality lives.

Nothing is more attractive, more inspiring, and more contagious than those that live a life of thanks.
Just reading that sentence im sure you can already think of several people in your life that fit such a description. They’re the people with the most joy, that get offended the least, and are the quickest to serve another.

They stick out like a sore thumb. Marked by something greater than just being the person that’s nice, but are clothed in a nature that comes from another place.

They don’t need a tragedy to mark their lives or a holiday on a calendar to teach them what to be grateful for…Because the leaves that change hues with the turning of a season and the air-filled with the scent of burning firewood triggers fond memories, and something as simple as a ‘thank you’, all has a way of holding a heavy weight of lasting value to them.

I’m pretty sure it’s because they’re the ones that remember what they have, and mostly, how they don’t deserve it.
Entitlement to wealth, health, and happiness is foreign and unnatural because those who live a life of thanks realize the gift that is life and all that unfolds within it.

This thanksgiving day I want to slow down, take a long deep breath, and not only be intentional in recognizing all the miraculous and beautiful around me, but be active and vocal in my gratitude and thanks of it.

I hope on this day we would squeeze out every ounce of lasting joy from the moments we share with those we love, and that we would see in all things, the immeasurable kindness of a loving God who willingly gives us what we have not earned and will never deserve.

We have so much to be thankful for.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

grace was born: a birthday blog

It was 20yrs ago, this very day, my baby sister – Olivia Grace was born.

I was only 5yrs old and recall absolutely nothing about that day, but I wish I did, because I know it was a really special day.

I do remember a little later trying my best to hoist her out of her crib and carry her on my tiny 5yr old hip. (bad move mom and dad)
I remember those blonde curls and those cute chubby cheeks that were always dirty. Always.
And i remember her running around with Hannah who was just a year older, both without shoes and only a diaper. Typical Baker fashion.

She was always happy and always sassy as a kid.
And honestly. Not much has changed.
She’s still always happy.
Always.
It’s kind of miraculous IF you catch liv on an off day.

Happy-go-lucky is what we call her and that’s just the kind of person she is.

The first one to laugh at your jokes, but mostly the first one to laugh at her own. She will whip your hair up and put you in something cooler than you had on before. and man… the girl can clean.

She’s just fun and everyone that knows her, knows that. and that may sound silly, but i think it’s a pretty tremendous quality. To be the person that people want around because you’re bright and bold and encouraging company to be with. I hope to be that very kind of person.

I’m so proud of my baby sister and the wonderful and beautiful person she has become. I cant believe she no longer has ‘teen’ at the end of her age.

 

Liv,
Time is never wasted, but it’s invested into one way or another, no matter what. Remember that, because this next year is going to surprise you. I have this little feeling about it. I know you’re ready to trust God with however it may look and that is a wonderful place you’re sitting in.
Im so impressed by you, the person you are, how you treat and care for others, are generous and giving when given the opportunity, and bring such joy and life to any circumstance or situation you walk into.
Im so grateful for you and your friendship, for always caring and being a place to lean into. I love you so much and hope that not only today is special for you, but that every tomorrow would carry hope and life and promise!

Happy Birthday Sis!!

Dads: Be Doers

“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and he let me watch him do it.”
Clarence Kelland

Nearly every morning I experience the same thing. It’s like clockwork. I run down the stairs (usually because im running late), Murphy our gigantic goldendoodle meets me at the bottom and kindly leans into me expected to get a good 10 second scratch. I look over to the couch and see my dad reading his bible with a cup of coffee in hand. We exchange happy good mornings, I tell him I’m sleepy, and we both say “love you, I hope you have a great day” as I walk towards the front door. Every morning it’s the same, consistent, and steady life of my dad that I see being lived right in front of me. and not just me, right in front of everyone, too.

I’ve grown up with a dad that set the standard for our family. Of course we had rules and structure within our home, but when it came to my dad telling us how we should live, we’d never really hear such suggestions. Because greater than those that hear the word, are those that do it. You see, my dad, he’s a doer.

He doesn’t hide his excitement in insecurity, he celebrates the smallest victories with us.
He doesn’t always hide his frustration, but he is quick to calm down and remember what matters
He doesn’t always hide when he’s mad, but he is consistent in owning up to his mistake, apologizing, and asking for forgiveness.
He doesn’t withhold good things from us or others, but he is quick to give his best in all things.
He doesn’t love from a distance, but he is involved and present in the lives of his children, always pursing a deeper relationship.

As Father’s Day is inching ever closer, I want to remind the dads out there of something: Your kids are watching you.

They’re watching the way you respond and react, how you give and withhold, how you celebrate or belittle, how you’re involved and present or distant and insecure. We see it all, and the life you live, whether you are conscious of it or not, sets the standard for our hearts and lives ever unfolding.

The greatest gift you can give to your children is to love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength – it’s the single most impactful example you will ever demonstrate. Your allegiance to God will sow seeds so deeply rooted in the hearts of your kids, that the storms of life could never destroy its fruit. And no one is asking you to be perfect and flawless, because mistakes and slip-ups only present another opportunity for you to show us the better way.

Dads, when you love God with all that you are and all that you have, you won’t always have to tell your kids how to live, you’ll simple… show us.

Greater than those that hear the word, are those that do it.

__________________

Dads: be doers

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

barbies and birthdays.

When you think of the eldest child you can’t help but think of… The boss. The one in charge. The protector. The mom.
Which all pretty much describes my sister to a T.

Rachel and I have always got along. We never really fought that much or pulled each others hair, at least not that I can remember. She is a little over 2yrs older than me, yet has always been my biggest fan and encourager.
Since Rachel wasn’t (and still isn’t) really the athletic type (per say), we didn’t have too much in common when we were younger, since I was as tom-boy as they came. I wanted to play outside and she wanted to play barbies inside.

I distinctly remember conversations with my mom where she would say “Sarah, please play with your sister. At least a few minutes just play barbies and then you can go back outside.” We’d eventually begin to barter each others time so we’d both get what we wanted. I’d give in and play barbies in exchange for not letting her into my club with the neighborhood boys (bully alert).
I’m sure Rachel would be mad if I didn’t mention that she DID play volleyball for a season and was pretty good, given her tall and gangly physique… but we all knew that she was way better at persuading neighbors into buying girl scout cookies.

I eventually quit my outdoors/sports life and we both jumped into something we could do together: church.
We co-led a small group together with high school girls and made a pretty great team. She was the organized one and I was the one still preparing the lesson 20 min after our meeting had started.

Later on, we went to bible college together and ended up traveling and doing ministry with the same team of people. I played music and led worship and Rachel ran merch tables and made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. At all times. Day or night.

And life hasn’t changed too much. She’s still on time, still in charge, and still an amazing leader that people easily and willingly follow. She manages a Tennis shop at a country club now, and runs it like a well-oiled machine. I would expect nothing less, obviously.

You see, Rachel is the type of person you want to know. She’s the type of person that will call you on your crap, and love you through every step you take to get out of your mess. She will also organize and manage your daily life, If you let her..

Today is Rache’ls Birthday and I couldn’t be more grateful for the sister and friend that she has been to me. Constant and steady in love and encouragement, I couldn’t ask for a better person to do and share my life with. I know it’s extremely cliché to say that someone is “beautiful inside and out”, but I don’t think there is a better way I could describe her. So beautiful in heart and in form!

Rachel,
First – id like to say that I’m sorry I diFedn’t play barbies with you or let you in my club that me and the neighborhood boys had. Rookie mistake.

I just want you to know that I think you’re amazing. One of the most solid and loyal people and friends that I think ill ever know. Im so blessed and grateful to have you tightly knited in my life and heart.

I love you bunches and hope you have a really great birthday, sis!!

MayDay: a birthday post

Birthdays are always a big deal at my house. I think that stems from the lack of birthday excitement my parents experienced growing up. Nevertheless, our earnest goal is to always remind the birthday recipient just how special and important they truly are. It’s 24 hours (or a week in some cases) to brag on them about the kind of gift they are to our lives.

Well today is another birthday in my house, therefore another chance to brag. It’s my mommas birthday yall!

So here goes just a few things I love and so value about my mom:

– She is unbelievably real and raw, and maybe that sounds cliché, but I don’t know anyone else that loves to get down to the heart of the matter more than my mom.

– She is uber encouraging and in the same breath will tell me if the shirt im wearing is too frumpy. Sure, she’s not on the fashion train per say, but the honest communication she has raised us with has helped in cultivating confident and honest people out of me and my siblings.

– She is the most welcoming and inviting human on the planet. She doesn’t meet a stranger, she doesn’t even know what that is. You will be loved, embraced, and fed as soon as you walk through my front door.

– She is a trustworthy friend to me and I am always confident that my best interest is on the forefront of her mind.

– She is loving. Fully and completely, without limits or boundaries, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt her love will always be there. Constant and steady.

_________________

Mom,

I wish I could find words that carried enough weight to really tell you how loved, valued, and appreciated you are by all of us.

I’m obviously glad you were born, because I wouldn’t be here for starters… but mostly, im glad you were born because God knew that I would need YOU to be my mom and friend through this life. I will be forever grateful for that!

I’m so proud of you and love you so much! I hope today is a really special day for you! You deserve it!
I also hope dad surprises you with a pool. *fingers crossed*

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

from death to life: my friend’s story.

im so grateful for the response from my latest posts and series. i truly belive there is something unique and wonderful about connected to another’s story. experiencing their journey through pain and disappoint, and hopefully their testimony of redemption and restoration in the end. im grateful to have shared a least a little piece of my puzzle with you, but id now like to share a part of my wonderful friends story.

taylor mitchell is a gem. one of those people you meet and are immediately drawn to by her incredible personality and south Arkansas charm. she truly  loves people and has a real and genuine passion for God that is seen in the veins of every friendship she has and everything she does.
if you met her today, you wouldn’t in a million years expect to hear the kind of testimony she has and the story she’s lived out. before i just go ahead and blurt it out, i want you to watch the video below. this is taylor telling her story with her own words and heart. this is a story of real life redemption. of real pain – met by real love. real sorrow and grief – met by real peace and grace. from death to life, we see God rescue, restore, and redeem again and again. please let her words remind you again of Gods unending love and pursuit of your heart and life.
here is an excerpt from TAYLOR’S BLOG about this video and heart behind filming it.

I am Taylor Mitchell. I have a story, just like you do. It may not look identical to yours, but it could possibly have the same ending…REDEMPTION.
I want to share with you my personal journey. My desire is to tell the world my personal experience because it sheds light into the amazing, everlasting LOVE of Jesus. His relentless and unchanging love. The bible mentions in Revelation 12:11 “and they OVERCAME him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony…” I believe that every time this story is told, I not only find more healing, but others find hope and more than anything, they see that life is not over!! It is not how you start the race, it is how you finish!! I pray today, as you watch and listen, God will invade your heart with His love, His healing, His redemption! You are loved and adored. Don’t settle. Keep pressing forward because YOU have a story to tell!! 

 
Follow Taylor
Blog: iamtaylorm
Twitter: @taylormitchell
Sang and wrote on Trinity Church’s worship album “In You” – be sure and check it out on itunes:: HERE

(this AMAZING video was created by my wonderful and talented friends at Jonathan Link Studios)