My heart's desire for this series, and truly for the book Life Creative itself, is to show that God made us creative for His great gospel glory! We are His masterpieces, indeed, privileged to make masterpieces of our own, but all purposed to point others to the Master Craftsman! Today's guest, Rachel Baxter, gives us a clear picture of how God's Great Commission call upon our lives can be lived out, partially, through our inspired, creative, in-His-image design. Get ready to go on a wonderful ride, to the far corners of the world, with this sweet Renaissance Mom and her dear family.
Welcome Welcome, Rachel Baxter!
1.) Please introduce yourself and your family to all of us.
Hi! My name is Rachel and I am married to my handsome pastor and we have six children, Ellie, Sam, Henry, Nora Kate, Charlie and Ben. Our children range from two to nine years old. Let me do the math for you, we had six kids in a seven year span. I gave birth to five of our littles in six and half years and then we spent the last year working to bring our newest son home through adoption. He is two years old and is from China. You can imagine it has been a busy, beautiful, messy, exhausting, hilarious and exhilarating last decade.
2.) What did your art look like before you had children?
The funny thing is I think my children actually helped bring out my creativity. My years in college and the few years after when I was doing college ministry I did not do much in the realm of art. As I was growing up performing arts and visual arts were a part of my daily life, but when I went to college I ended up leaving much of this behind. Having children and being a homemaker gave a rebirth to my love of art.
3.) How did art morph and change after children, and what does your creativity look like today?
Performing arts and visual arts had been a part of my life growing up. Certainly becoming a mother revived some of those artistic places in me. Decorating a home, planning birthday parties, photography and doing arts and crafts with my kids were some of the ways my creativity bloomed in this season of motherhood. However, there is one area of art I never would have expected to be birthed from this season - motherhood made me a writer.
[Tweet ""Motherhood made me a writer" (Rachel Baxter, Renaissance Mom)"]
Despite my natural creative bent, writing had never been a part of my repertoire. I started a blog ten years ago to keep friends and relatives updated on our family when social media was in its infancy and so were my babies. My writing and my children grew together. I am not one of those women who can report after ten years of blogging that I run a successful online business, ministry, or have published book, but I can say after ten years of blogging I became a writer.
I so enjoy using words to illustrate the story God is writing for our family and I do it in hopes of encouraging others in the trenches like myself. For many women I think having a family has meant letting go of an art form they loved but for me it was the opposite. Being a mother gave birth to my art. Most of my inspiration as a writer has been born out of the mess and beauty of motherhood.
4.) Where and when have you carved out time to create in your busy mothering days?
People often ask me how I make time for writing, and I do not have a really good answer because for me there has never been a consistent plan and certainly not much time. Having so many children born or adopted in such a short period time allowed for very little consistency over the last decade. Instead of carving out time for writing, writing has carved me. After too much time being away from it the words chase me down and force me to give up sleep, pass on the Netflix rerun or beg someone to watch my kids so I can go to a coffee shop to get the words out. A practical tip for any writers out there is don’t feel like you have to say it all and write full fledged blog posts or chapters to a book to be able to write. Most of my writing happens on Instagram where I write “instablogs” but when I have more time or I can’t help but write more I write on my blog. The important part is keep writing as often as you can, even if only in little snippets.
5.) Motherhood doesn't have to be the death of dreaming - in fact, it shouldn't be! We continue to dream even with little ones by our side. What are some of your hopes and dreams in regards to your creativity?
I would love to write a book and maybe a devotional one day and have articles published on certain blogs/websites I deem especially wonderful. But what I really want is to continue to develop and grow in my writing and for it to be used to influence others toward God and the things He loves.
6.) If you had one piece of advice to offer a mother who may be struggling with the messy blend of motherhood and art, what would you say?
Take another look at your children and really consider how they effect your art. I think we often view our kids as the barrier to our art but maybe they are something more. In my first years of motherhood I saw my kids as the thing keeping me from my art but more recently something clicked and I realized they were the reason I have any art to give. I struggled in the early years of parenting wanting to have the perfect mom job. I wanted a job which allowed me all the benefits of mothering but also all the accolades of working in a public setting. I saw my friends being successful work at home moms as photographers, writers and artists and in my heart I struggled terribly with envy. The envy led me to punish my kids and my husband for taking this away from me. But God got a hold of me and opened my eyes to see these children were not to blame instead they were to be praised. I was becoming a writer because of them not in spite of them. It is through the mess of of motherhood I have found some of my deepest and most beautiful inspiration.
7) How can God use our creativity in His Great Commission call upon our mothering lives?
I love that you are asking this question! I think often we divorce our creativity from our discipleship of our children when really God intended them to go hand in hand. God is a creative and he made us in his image. His intent for his people is for us to use all that we are to glorify Him. When we are using our gifts to point our children to Jesus it shows them the wholeness of the Great Commission. We are called to make disciples, disciples are not soldiers in an army all following the same orders they are unique creations, each different than the other following the same leader, Jesus. Each disciple is given certain works they are to accomplish for God’s Kingdom. Specifically for me, one way I use my creative writing in the discipleship of my children is through creative storytelling. Often when I talk to them about the Bible I use story. Not just stories from the Bible but I will use stories from my own life and relate them to Biblical principals, they love this and they get it, because story resonates. Story reaches into their little hearts. My kids obviously don’t read the things I write for my blog or other publications but when they see me write it shows them that I take seriously the creative gifts God has given me. It shows them the truth that God has made us creative beings and we can use our creativity to glorify God and bless others.
photos courtesy, The Archibald Project
8) How did creativity play a part in your recent adoption story?
One of my great surprise joys in our adoption journey was how much my creativity came out through this process. From coming up with creative adoption fundraisers, to inviting a team of talented photographers to join us in telling our story, to personally writing about our story as we lived it out, creativity has been enfolded throughout the process. We had to raise $30,000 to bring our son home and I knew I didn’t just want to ask people for money. I longed to bring people into our journey in many different ways. So I put my creative cap on and went to work. One of the fundraisers I hosted was a weekend crafting retreat called “Made to Create.” We transformed our neighborhood club house into a craft house, ate yummy comfort food, had women come to speak about how God is using their creativity for the kingdom and, of course, crafted! The whole time I couldn’t believe I was holding a fundraiser because this was way to much fun. I continued to use my creativity throughout the fundraising process and it was really life giving to use my gifts in bringing my son home.
The other way creativity was woven into our adoption was through story telling. I knew I wanted to tell this story but not just in the old fashion way. I wanted to use as many avenues as possible to take this story forward. Not because our adoption story is unique but because God uses stories to reach deep into people’s souls and change them. I knew how other people’s stories have changed my life and I desired our sons story to change others. Since Instagram is my favorite writing and story telling platform I chose to write there as we experienced it. I wanted people to feel like they were there with us. I tried to share the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and emotions we experienced each day through my words.
My deep desire was that in doing so it would ignite in people a sense that they had come along with us, and that it would lead them to see that they too could care for the orphan. We took it a step further by partnering with the Archibald project to tell our story.
photo courtesy, The Archibald Project
The Archibald Project is an orphan care advocacy organizations using creative avenues to help people see the wide variety of ways we can all care for the orphan. They use storytelling through the medium of photography and videography to advocate for the orphan and the vulnerable child. I wanted to bring them along because I knew they had the creative ability to tell Ben's story even better than I could alone. Many of the photos in this post are from the Archibald project.
In November, for adoption awareness month, they will be launching the video they created for us to better tell our son’s story. God has made people emotional beings and telling stories through multiple mediums helps reach deep into their souls and elicits change in a way just reading statistics on orphans can not. I am hoping through our creative story telling many families and individuals will be moved to action on behalf of the orphan.
8) Rachel, how can we follow along with you and your family after this dynamite interview?
And of course you can find more of my family's story, along with other inspiring adoption stories at The Archibald Project.
Thank you, Rachel, for being so generous with your family's redemptive story. Your willingness to share your lives creatively with readers has great gospel power!
Dear friend, if you are a creative mom and desire to use your writing and picture taking, your clever home decorating and craft making and hospitality for God's great glory, our new book, Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom is for you!
In this season of parenting all our people, it is common to feel confined most days to home. But, it is absolutely possible to travel "to the ends of the earth" with The Good News of Jesus Christ through this digital age.
We believe that your creative bent has the power to bend people to the Gospel!
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