Tuesday, February 13, 2024


50!! It’s just a number. And yet it holds possibility for all the numbers yet to follow.

It’s 2 digits. And yet it’s a reminder of this fleeting life.

It’s a new decade. And yet it’s the celebration of 5 beautiful decades already lived.

It’s just a birthday. And yet it’s a day to be grateful for all the ups and downs of this journey.

It’s 100/2. And yet it’s also a reality check to reevaluate if I’m living 100% of the life I want to.

It’s getting AARP mail. And yet it’s feeling like I have a whole lifetime to live still.

It’s 600 months. And yet, it’s also thinking of all the amazing people who have walked alongside me in these months.

 It’s the half-way pause to appreciate all I’ve accomplished. And yet a reminder for all the dreams I’ve had that I’ve never pursued.

It’s 2,609 weeks. And yet it’s wrinkles and gray hair looking back in the mirror of all the life lived in those weeks.

It’s the golden birthday celebration. And yet it also begins another trip around the sun.

It’s 18,262 days. And yet, who’s counting?

It’s a day I could feel old. And yet I remember, everyone has a chance to be young, but not everyone has a chance to grow old.  So here’s to growing old, for however many days I have left with breath in my lungs. I don’t know if that will be tomorrow or in several decades down the road. Meanwhile, I will live imperfectly. I will speak kindly to myself. I will continue to redefine success as experiences and opportunities, rather than as accomplishments. I will look at the world not broadly, but closely, and the circle around me I can engage with. I will seek to always choose kindness. I will say sorry when I’m not kind. I will do my best to always believe the best about people. I will remind myself that I can be the goodness in this world and seek out opportunities to do good. I will look for the positive. I will plant future bouquets. I will intentionally invest in relationships. I will love God. I will have adventures. I will drink in fresh air every chance I get on woodland paths. I will notice sunsets that give way to twilight, and raindrops that bring rainbows. I will live. Here’s to 50!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Birthday Reflections


A day to pause.

A day filled with gratitude for the opportunity I had to take another trip around the sun. 46 full trips around the sun.

A reminder that this life is fleeting. And while I hope I have another 46 trips around the sun, the truth is, in this uncertain world, it is possible I may not even make a full trip around to 47. To some this may sound morbid. To me, it helps me live my life deeper, fuller, more honestly. It helps me live with deep integrity, deep love, deep feelings (which I don't always appreciate!), and deep joy. (I wanted to type 'deep purpose' there, but I'm in a season of wondering what my 'purpose' is.)

It is a reminder to enjoy this life I've been given. To enjoy the warmth of the sun on a winter day. To smell the roses on our counter. To savor that bite of chocolate (especially since come Sunday I'm giving up sugar for 3 weeks!). To have conversations. To take time for conversations. To plan getaways now. And to take the getaway. To listen to the laughter around me. To create laughter (although I tend to live so seriously, I'm not always the best at this one.) To give myself permission to binge watch Downton Abbey.

 And it's filled with so many beautiful people - some family, some friends, some friends who feel like family. And on my birthday, its easy to pause, and be thankful for all the wonderful people I get to share the journey with.

So today, I won't be sad for how 'old' I've become. Rather, I choose to be grateful for all the life I've been able to live!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Always the Same and Never the Same

My favorite hobby the past few years has been 'chasing waterfalls'.  I LOVE the adventure, the hunt, the driving down back roads, the escape from cell phone signals, the REPLENISHMENT! Yesterday we took advantage of a beautiful Saturday. Here are a few moments captured in the Wilderness of Arkansas Mountains. Photo Credit to Mike.

Cascades on the way to Native American Falls. 

Lonesome Hallow Falls 47' tall

Hudson Shelter Falls - Hard to tell how big these are - about 5 stories tall.

After Mike had put his camera equipment away and we were walking back I said that would make a good photo. We kept walking. Then Morgan interpreted and said, "Dad, mom is saying to stop and get a photo." We kept walking then he said, no stop, I'll go back and get a photo.  It is a pretty little brook, isn't it! :)  Morgan knows me. Mike loves me. 
I was reflecting on our hike about the things that are always the same, but never the same. Like flowing water. It's always flowing water, yet that spot is never ever the same flowing water, ever. When I touch the water, no one else will probably ever touch that same exact water again. Like fire, which is always fire, yet never the same flame.  Like our breath, which is always a breath and yet never the same air. Like the wind, that is always blowing, yet we never feel the same wind blow through our hair twice. Like time, which is always ticking, and yet the same minute will never be the same minute.  Like moments, which are always moments, and yet can only be lived and captured briefly, because the same moment is impossible to have again.  Because even if you replicate that moment, you've created a new moment.  The same, and yet never the same.  What else is the same, and yet never the same? I found it to be an interesting concept I pondered as I sat and watched the streams flow and cascade and tumble and create beauty.

Today is Easter, we worshipped as a family, served at church in the kids programs, made a yummy Easter Dinner together (I almost ruined potatoes but saved them!), went and watched "I can only imagine" at the movies, and of course the girls hunted for their Easter Baskets and we enjoyed spoiling them just a bit with a basket of goodies.  The weather yesterday on our waterfall chase was 70 and partly sunny, today it is in low 30s and we saw freezing rain pellets! 

Now I'm pausing the write and read and ponder and reflect. So grateful for Jesus this Easter! 
Today, on Easter. (Notice: NO MORE BRACES!) 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

When ordinary truly is extraordinary

Something about Saturday’s record-setting warmth caused me to write this, capturing a moment in time…

It was the kind of day when all seemed right in the world. When a kiss of sunshine awakened her from within.  A winter February day, when instead of cold and snow, sunshine and warmth of 82 degrees flooded both her world and her soul. 

The walk was warm, with no shade in the woods. The stark branches reached heavenward toward the limitless blue sky.  The creek beds ran dry, awaiting the spring rains to quench their banks and flow through their rocky beds.

Her youngest daughter, entering the world 14 years ago this day, brought her own kind of sweetness to the world. The daughter was a reminder to live in the moment, to enjoy the fleeting days of this lifetime. She was one of those souls who didn’t worry, didn’t stress, and like her dad, had a calmness about her that was one of their greatest strengths.

As her daughter walked behind her, chatting with a friend, she held tightly to the hand of the one who had held her heart for the past 26 years.  The conversation carefree, and at times even silent, as they simply had the joy of being together, on this trail, on this journey. Pausing from the busyness of days, to create this ordinary rhythm, that really in all reality was extraordinary, as he had reminded her on their walk the previous weekend.  And as she looked down at the grasp of their hands, her heart was in awe of the extraordinariness of it all.

Then as they walked, a text came, from her daughter behind her, “You guys look so cute” and a photo of the couple walking hand in hand.  It’s blurry, and if she was honest, she hates the weight she’d gained over the past several years.  And yet, the photo, was a gift from her daughter. A reminder that sometimes, the ordinary, even the imperfect, really is the most beautiful extraordinary there is. 

And her heart breathed up a prayer, both thanking God, and asking God to allow their daughters the beauty of their own extraordinary love one day. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

One Second Everyday 2016

This year, I tried to capture one second every day. I missed a couple of days, but it's still a great collection of the memories of 2016. You can view it on our youtube channel (click here). 

Baker Family Highlights of 2016

u 20 years of living in Missouri and Mike working for MSHP Crime Lab 
uMorgan turned 15, got her driving permit, loves colorguard (learned to spin rifle and sabre, on top of flags, this year), loves swim, and took a trip to San Francisco with her grandparents 
u Sarah turned 13 (yes, a teen!), absolutely loves reading, also enjoys colorguard, volunteer opportunities, and swim too! She also got her braces on this year! 
u Family Trip to Smoky Mountains (we saw a bear, went white water rafting, and hiked to some amazing waterfalls!)
u 22nd anniversary 
u Mike has been enjoying photography more this year, and Cathy loves finding the waterfalls to capture on film 
u Mike joined a local shooting range and has enjoyed target practice
uCathy & Mike Arkansas getaway, slept in a yurt  
u 3 trips to Michigan (summer, thanksgiving, Christmas) 
u We redid a room in our basement and made it an etsy studio for Cathy’s business, with a beautiful pallet wall! 
u And we bought a new (to us) car with scrabble tiles (business is good!) www.celebratingthemoment.etsy.com

Celebrating 20 Years at the MSHP Crime Lab

Michigan Summer 2016

Michigan Thanksgiving 2016

These beauties who call me mom! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A to Z Summer Fun: Ice Cream Version

So this summer, we decided to do an A to Z Ice Cream Fun list...and we finished it this past weekend!

I'd like to say this is all the ice cream we ate, but ummm, no. What can I say, the Bakers LOVE ice cream!

A Andy's Frozen Custard
B Braum's Ice Cream
C Celmentine's Micro Creamery (my favorite!)
D Dockside Ice Cream Cones
E Edy's
F Frozen Custard (from Andy's of course)
G Giant Bowls of Frozen Yumminess
H Half- price steak n shake shakes
I Ice Cream
J James Brownie Funky Jackhammer
K Klondike Bars
L Lemonade (frozen)
M Malts and Milkshakes
N New Flavor (O'chunko chocolate)
O Orange Leaf
P Pineapple Whip
Q Queen Visit (Dairy Queen, that is)
R Rootbeer Floats
S Slushies
T Twist Cones
U scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream
V vanilla cones
W Wendy's Frosties
X Xtra Toppings
Y Yogurt (the frozen kind)
Z Zott's

Monday, June 20, 2016

Life is FULL

Life has been FULL the last 4 days. So much to celebrate.  This beautiful life that I can't pause. This journey that I get to travel during this lifetime. The amazing people I get to share it with.  My heart is full.

We've had two swim meets.  I love this being a part of our summer.  I love watching how strong the girls have become through the last five years. Their strokes and techniques inspire me. {haven't got the photos off the good camera yet}

We've celebrated Mike, he's such an amazing dad!  The girls and I made him this giant Jenga game - Lowes, saws, power sanding - he's taught us a lot!

 We've celebrated our beautiful daughter turning 15.  She got a new sabre, rifle, and color guard bag. She loves being on guard! But boy oh boy, practice sure results in lots of bruises!

She got her first flowers from a boy.

We finally made it to the lake for the first time this summer! Thanks Mike for getting the boat fixed!! He described it as trying to get out of an escape room -- it was quite a puzzle to figure out and put back together! But I knew he could do it! Just took longer than we all hoped!

We bought a new car, as I like to say, with scrabble tiles (and a few shadow boxes thrown in!) --my etsy store has definitely gone way beyond anything I ever dreamed for it!  Also, we made sure our new car knew the way to Andy's.

Morgan passed her driving test and now has a permit to begin to learn how to drive. Her patient dad is in the front seat, and I'm practicing my breathing techniques from birth class in the back seat.  Especially when 3 deer cross in front of us! Luckily she was only going 25 mph.

Yes, all that, and more, in the past 4 days!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

And I'm writing again...

(This is just a draft, but I made it a priority to sit down and write this morning and I wanted to capture it here on my blog!) 

I knew the risk I was taking. I knew I might not make it back home. 9:59…9:58…9:57… But for me it was worth the risk. A chance to see the world in a whole new perspective. The chance to soar where no one has before. Really, this is the only way to live this one and only life. YOLO the younger generations say. 9:06…9:05…9:04… I’ve not merely existed on this journey around the sun, I’ve made the most of it. I have no regrets for choosing this trip.  Yet still, this isn’t how I thought my final moments of this voyage would end. Utterly alone. With only my thoughts. 8:34…8:33…8:32… Who knew I would be the one who would get to take these adventures. Who knew I would be on my own at the end, counting down the moments.  My mind is racing back through time, through the days of my life. Too many memories to sort through them all.  7:23…7:22…7:21… But here, floating among the stars, engulfed in the vastness of them all, watching earth from a distance, balanced in a galaxy of blackness, I am captivated by it all.  If we get glimpses of heaven, this must be it. And I’m closer than I’d like to think…to heaven, that is.  I thought I’d be going back to earth, but here I am suspended in space and time, watching my oxygen tank empty out faster than I want. Please, slow down time. Every breath counts right now.  These are my final moments. 5:42…5:41…5:40… I’m closer to heaven than to earth. And I have a strange peace about that. To know that soon this blackness of the galaxy will be replaced with brightness of the Lord himself. That the coldness of this environment will soon transform into an eternal warmth. Like that of a perfect spring day. 4:10…4:09…4:08… That those who have traveled before me, are ‘home’ waiting for me to walk beside the crystal sea with them.  On earth, I got glimpses of the crystal sea, when my children would say, “Look at the sprinkles on the water!” They loved how the sun reflected off the water, sparkling a million tiny sparkles for our enjoyment. What joy I will soon experience for all eternity. 3:17…3:16…3:15 Yet, at the same time, my heart grieves. It grieves for those left on earth. I wish I had a chance to say goodbye. That I could say ‘see you later’. I wish that tears and pain wouldn’t fill their upcoming days.  I pray now that they will have peace. That their memories will be their strength. May they be inspired to live their lives well. To finish strong the journey that lies ahead of them.  2:21…2:20…2:19… More time. I want more time.  But really, is there ever enough time to experience it all? Our days our numbered. For me, my minutes are numbered. And here, at the end, the only time that matters, is the time I already spent to love, and to live, and to give, on this journey.  Those are the moments that mattered. Those are the moments that mean something here at the end. 0:60…0:59…0:58… What does one think during the last minute he has oxygen?  I shall think of Jesus. Of his open arms waiting me. I’m grateful he became the bridge between me and God on that cross, that he gave himself as a gift for me to choose. I have followed him, and with faith and hope, I rest in knowing that these last breaths are not the end of the journey, but only the beginning. 0:03…0:02…0:01…

(I asked the girls to give me something to write about...inspiration...Morgan said, write about being an astronaut in space and you only have 10 minutes of oxygen left in your tank).

Now on to work on the 61 etsy items I've had ordered in the past 4 days! :) 

Sunday, April 24, 2016


I have a dozen and one open boxes pouring thoughts into my brain right now. A jumbled mess really, and I lay here trying to sort them all out, trying to reorganize the boxes, and I realize I have no idea what this blog post will actually be about.These words forming on the computer screen are my attempts at organizing it all.

These past few months, I have been a part of a leadership team planning the first women's conference at our church. And it was this weekend. It was a beautiful masterpiece, a work of art, all the women bringing their gifts to the table, in order to create an amazing experience for 75 women!  The theme was refresh - a place for women to take a break from the routine and refresh! And I've got to tell you, while it physically wore me out, and even more mentally as I attempted time and time again to step out of my comfort zone and create small talk, and develop friendships, and be in the moment.  For an introvert, these things are exhausting.  But I also know I don't want to do life alone...the journey is better shared.  But the truth? I came away refreshed.  Through volunteering and being able to bring my desire to encourage women, and implement things to make this happen -- it refreshed me -- it was purposeful/meaningful/life-giving to my soul. Refreshing for me was seeing other women be refreshed! 

I've met some incredibly talented women working on this retreat -- real, authentic, caring, creative...I could go on. And while it has taken over 7 years since we've moved...I've finally found a community, a place to belong, a place to love and be loved. A place where I can use my gifts to encourage others, as well as, be encouraged with the gifts of other women. God has given me the friendships I've been longing for, and this weekend, through the hugs of other women, I felt God reaching down and giving me a giant hug from heaven! (Oh the tears I've cried these past 7 years longing for this...makes the joy of these friendships even more special!)

Additionally, a week ago, the message on Sunday was called "dancing with the scars of rejection" - I didn't think the message would apply much to me, but God 'shouted' at me during this message - I realized how fully I had withdrawn from writing and serving since the rejection I faced a couple of summers ago when I was trying to get back into social work and submitting my work to publishers -- all the while being told I wasn't 'the one' - I wasn't quite 'good enough' -- and my heart broke that summer.  And this past week, God said it was time to let him rebuild this broken part of my heart into a new mosaic masterpiece - and I don't know what my writing will look like, or who I will share it with, but I know I will be writing again.  It's how I process this beautiful, confusing, amazing, sometimes upside down life! And I still refuse to believe my SW degree was wasted - I am on the look out again to see in what capacity I might use this degree I worked so hard for! And I can't stop thinking of the message, and I'm looking for ways to 'renew my mind' and dance with the scars of rejection once again, and grateful I get to do it alongside some of these amazing friends...

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Integrity, a Detective, and my Momma Heart

In many ways this has been a very difficult week.  My heart has been aching and stretching.  Parenting is truly a journey of the heart. 

This week Morgan had to make a very difficult decision to report something to her coach.  She came home from practice overwhelmed by the circumstances.  A fellow teammate’s poor choices (and I feel they really are a great individual who made a stupid, stupid choice!) have resulted in the entire team needing to speak with a detective this week. This individual has a 10 day suspension and will not be competing at end of season championships today. Their presence and talent will truly be missed today.  And my heart breaks – what made them make such a foolish choice?!  I’m reminded how one choice has far reaching consequences to so many others – like the ongoing ripples from one pebble tossed in the pond. 

But let me speak from my momma heart about Morgan.
  • She chose integrity. She chose to the right thing. Even though it was gut-wrenching hard. She’s a teen and she made the right choice.  Will she always? Probably not, she’s a human, not a saint.  But I am so very proud of her.
  •  We’ve had powerful conversations. Like, “Mom, I know I can say “I forgive you” but how do you really forgive someone?! Like deep down in your heart? Because I want to forgive.”  So we talked about grace and how trust is different than forgiveness.  Maybe it’s time for her to read my memoir. For me, it was a 10 year journey, I hope I can help her figure it out sooner than I did!
  •  We’ve had great conversations about how situations like this reveal the character of others.  We’ve discussed how different people on the team have handled it and about the value of friendships. I’ve loved the depth of our conversations this week.

And while I will enjoy watching the strength of her spin and catch consistently today, it is the strength of her character that I am treasuring most in my heart today.  Lord, Thank you for letting me be this girl’s momma! 

Love both my girls! Easter...