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Tindell Baldwin »

Do you know what a worldwide pandemic and nationwide lockdown has provided me with lots of?

Fighting.

All day. everyday. Three of my four people telling the me the list of sins the other siblings have committed. It sounds something like this…

“Mom he looked at me with a mean face”

“Mom I can’t hear cause she’s yelling”

“Mom she won’t leave me alone”

“Mom he won’t give me alone time”

“Mom she hit me”

“Mom he closed the door on me”

“Mom, he’s dancing and I want to dance alone” (didn’t make this up)

“Mom, she told me I am not good at basketball”

“Mom he started the show with out me”

And the list just keeps going. Too much togetherness coupled with cancelled activities, time without friends, and just plain old boredom has created a hostile living environment. We have bickering before the waffle has even emerged from the toaster. With a baby on one hip my most muttered Covid phrase has been “figure it out” shortly followed by “not like that.” It’s amazing how when tensions are high the smallest offense can set off the alarm.

What frustrates me the most about all the bickering, besides the constant background noise that sounds like cats in a metal trashcan, is that they are missing out on the joy of the relationship. I came from a big family, three brothers to be exact,  I remember the utter annoyance I felt at brother b when brother c took his side and I remember the rage the boiled when my best attempts to annoy were met by a calm demeanor. I remember it all but I laugh about it retrospect because I love my brothers. My childhood was dreamy and we still jokingly call each other the stupid names we made up just to piss each other off. I want to whisper through clenched teeth at my kids “one day you guys will realize the gift you have in each other.” One day I pray this bickering will be distant memories we laugh about when we weren’t so mature and weren’t able to take a break.

One of the major hot button issues that seems to be a recurring theme in my kids quarreling matches is just how different the other is. Briggs wants Claire to listen more and talk less. Claire wants briggs to dance without abandon. We all want Colbie to pick her self up off the floor and stop crying long enough to understand what she’s saying. Benji wants everyone to go to school. I agree with Benji. 

The point is that the only thing my kids continually agree is they all need mom and she’s standing right there and if she doesn’t answer they should say it again…but louder. Besides that it’s all up for discussion. 

I pray though that one day they all come to appreciate just how different they are. One day Claire will see Briggs need for order and quiet as his gift he brings to our loud table. Briggs will see Claire’s constant imagination as the push we all need to keep dreaming. Colbie will remind us all to laugh hard and often I imagine. I think we will all stare in wonder at Benji every time he smiles (oh to be the baby). The point is one day when we are all a little more mature (myself included) we will be able to see this beautiful quilt God has been knitting in our family. We will appreciate the other colors he added to a square and perhaps the darkness in our own. We will see that our differences don’t divide us they make us more complete. 

I have wondered recently if God is feeling the same way, like he wishes we could all see the gift we have in each other instead of the divisive rage that has been created by our differences. I realize this is a very trivialized version of the current political, racial, and religious polarization thats happening every day but I wondered lately if our very need to rally together is being damaged because we are being caught up in our differences. 

Our current solution for when our kids fight is to have them sit on the bottom step arms around each other and talk through what is hurting them. We have noticed that when they focus on what happened we don’t get anywhere but when we ask them to talk about how they feel we can get to the bottom of it. Ben is credited for this stroke of parenting genius and it’s far more effective than any other method we have tried. Sitting arm in arm and talking about your hurt is hard to ignore. The blame game throws up defenses but vulnerability about our feelings when the other party is listening… well that shows our humanity.

I think we all need a moment on the stairs right now. A moment to look each other in the eyes, arms around one another, and hear the hurt. It seems like we would get farther linking arms than hurling insults and blame.  

“Self control is not simply saying no, its saying no to say yes to something that is more important”

Danny Silk, Loving our kids on purpose 

I used to live under the illusion that loving my kids would be easy and require little effort. I bonded very quickly to our babies when they were born and thought that the euphoria brought on by immense pain and hormones might carry me through all 18 years. I experienced something I hadn’t experienced any other time in my life, a love that was born without the other person doing anything to bring it out of me. I think a more “natural” reaction to child birth would be cursing and being pissed off that you now had to feed this person who had ripped your body apart. Most of the time though, moms drift through the first few weeks almost blissfully unaware that they are giving their all to a little person who my husband and I lovingly referred to as a pet rock for the first two months. Eventually the haze of hormones wears off and you are just tired and maybe a little bit teary and overwhelmed and wondering if you will ever wear pants with a zipper again. 

That early love is not so much love as it is an intense feeling. The real love we have for our kids comes when they start to really test us, when they push every button on your control panel and you’d be totally justified in ripping their heads off but instead, you smile and offer them dinner. The love we feel in the beginning has to grow and morph into a real lasting love. Just like when you were dating and feeling the love was so easy you had to stay in public places to control it. Then you got married and the love morphed into something that had to be tended to, worked on, and often fought for. The love we have for our kids is not all the different, it requires hard work. 

Briggs is currently in a very challenging phase. He is both parts energetic and moody. He comes home like a ping pong ball that can’t be stopped, bouncing off every surface it hits and leaving in its wake a trail of shoes and school papers. He is also having a hard time with a boy at school which prompts him to come home and take his pent up frustration out on his sisters and me. I have to brace myself for the hours after he is off the bus. Every day I face a constant borage of questions that then changes into disrespect when he doesn’t like my answers. For the first few weeks of school I thought this was a discipline problem, and if I swiftly handled every offense he would correct his behavior and shape up. I soon saw though that this was a heart problem and my attempts to change his behavior wouldn’t change his heart. I felt defeated, realizing that the only thing I could do was put boundaries up for the disrespect and then lean in hard on the love. I saw my son for the broken little heart he had instead of the big problem he was being. 

I decided to change my approach (mostly thanks to a book my friend Kelly sent me.. this is why we have friends!), which quickly showed me that I too had self control problems. All I had to do was shut my mouth. I needed to let him bounce off the walls (maybe encourage him to take it outside), help him see how powerful his words were to his sisters, and then just love him. I wasn’t just saying no, I was choosing him instead. I was focusing on the root of the problem and not simply the behavior… and it is hard. I have literally had to walk into my closet and do breathing exercises so that I don’t let my tongue get the best of me. I have had to close my mouth and pray “Jesus please don’t let an unkind word come out of my mouth.” And to be real, sometimes I loose the battle and say something I have to apologize for.

I believe though that God made me to do hard things and sometimes loving our kids is hard. Sometimes they are in less than desirable seasons and we can’t change it we can only love them. Now I am not saying discipline won’t also be required but I’ve learned anger and discipline are not the same. Briggs doesn’t need my anger, he needs my loving guidance. He needs me to do what God does for me, the incredible and brutal love that Jesus offered when he stood in the gap between my sin and God. When he reached out his hand to me and said “daughter, this isn’t the way you want to go, take my hand I’ll help you find the way.” That kind of love is hard, that kind of love cost Jesus his life. It will cost us much less, it will cost us pride and self control. It will cost us not getting to say the quippy thing that would be like a dart in their little heart. It will require us to lean in when we want to run for the hills. It will require breathing exercises behind closed doors and barely whispered prayers. It will require for us to love them when we don’t feel like it. This love will require self control on our end, the kind of self control that says, I am choosing you instead of choosing myself. That kind of love will change my sons heart, it won’t be immediate, but I believe it will be impactful.

Lets be honest, when we reflect on the people who changed our lives, the people who fought for us, the people who really loved us what were they like? Did they show up with their one liners and offense list ready to tell us how we were wrong? Were they the teacher who lost her cool because we just couldn’t stop talking (I spent 4th grade with my desk in the corner)? Were they the coach who was always disappointed in us? Or… were the people that really changed us, the ones that loved us and believed we could do better? Were they the adults who walked into our mess and knelt down beside us and helped us clean it up? Were they the coaches who pulled you aside after a bad game and told you that you’d do better next time? The really impactful people in my life were the people who loved me in the middle of the hard not when the hard had passed. The adults who spoke to my own broken heart at a young age weren’t the adults who reminded me how broken I was, no, the ones that I remember are the adults who offered their own scars as proof of healing. 

We can do hard things and we can start by loving our kids in the hard places. 

The book that inspired this post was “loving your kids on purpose” by Danny Silk and I highly recommend it

When I was fifteen my dad took me to father daughter camp…. in California. 

I was thinking about that today because he’s in California now and sent me pictures of the JH Ranch camp we went to. I had a sudden rush of memories when I saw the horses grazing, mostly of what a horrible human I was the entire week my dad and I were away. 

Let me set the scene for you…

So at 15 I was caught drinking for the first time. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say like most of the things I do I was all in. My parent’s response was slightly unorthodox. They did the typical restrictions on all my freedoms but also my dad informed me he was taking me to California for a week of father daughter camp. I didn’t realize just how counter intuitive this measure was until I became a parent myself.  He thought my sudden lapse in judgement could have to do with my struggle to find my place in our family. Was he right? A little. Was it his problem? No, but because he loved me, he wanted to build up our relationship and not just punish me (to be clear I was also punished). He bought us plane tickets, rented a white mustang convertible, and we drove a few hours down (or up… I’m not sure) the California coast, top down blaring my favorite music (Avril Lavigne and Michelle branch to be exact). Even as I type it I think what a lucky kid I was to have parents who loved me that much. 

As an adult now, I look back and have a forehead slapping moment because my attitude was salty at best. I was so ungrateful, so unaware of the incredible effort and opportunity my parents had afforded me. The real impressive part is that my dad never once lost it on me. Even when I moped around the camp, complained about the games, and acted less than interested in all the Jesus talk. My heart was hard and no amount of trail rides was going to change that. I was an insecure teenager who didn’t want to spend a week in breathtaking California with my dad. I wanted to party with my friends (so original). I was so wrapped up in my own little world I failed to see the opportunity and joy right in front of me. 

I wish I could go back now and shake 15 year old me. I wish I could tell her what an idiot she was being. I wish I could tell her just how valuable her dad’s love would be in her life and how insanely lucky she was. I can’t though. However, I can feel my dad’s pain a little more these days with 4 kids of my own who don’t seem to respond with the same level of gratefulness that I wish they would. 

Mom I wanted to stay home.

JH Ranch California

Mom I wanted to play with friends.

Mom why can’t we eat out? 

Mom why can’t we get a slushee at the trampoline park?

Mom I wanted something different for dinner.

Mom why can’t I stay up later?

Mom she got a bigger cookie than me.

Or my all time favorite this summer, It’s always dad’s birthday it’s never my birthday!

Summer. Wow. So many opinions.

At the end of the day I have felt like quite a failure based on my children’s loud and often negative reviews of my parenting and decision making. I was telling my counselor recently that it’s hard to feel like I’m making it at the end of the day because all my kids are often unhappy about something. She said something so brilliant: “I think you need a different measure of success at the end of your day.” And she’s right. Just like my dad didn’t measure the success of our trip by my attitude, I can’t measure my day by my kids’ response. I’m not accountable to them. I have started waking up and praying, “I am your servant God, your will be done.” It puts my day in perspective when the service to my family feels less than appreciated. My dad took me to that father daughter camp because he loved me and wanted to spend time with me. He would have been so disappointed if he was judging the trip based on my response. I need to base my success on whether I did my part to love my kids not on whether they received it like I expected them to. 

I was texting him tonight that I do remember one thing from that trip that will forever impact me. There was a girl in my cabin, and her father had a brain injury that caused memory loss. I don’t know more details so I won’t try to fill them in, but I remember her spending most of the week reminding him when things were, and what they were doing next. She was so gracious and kind to him. One of the days we were all going on a trail ride, and I remember her nervously looking around. She turned to me and said “I should have reminded him, I forgot to remind him when it was.” She was panicked waiting for her dad. It came time to saddle up, and we had to go on without him. As the horses were trotting off he ran up, but it was too late. They exchanged this painful look that I will never forget. I could see the feeling of failure on his face. I looked at my dad, trotting on the horse behind me and thought just how lucky I really was. I remember that moment vividly because I knew I took for granted something that wasn’t a guarantee. That dad wanted so desperately to show up for his daughter and couldn’t, and here I was taking it for granted just how much my dad always showed up for me. It was because my dad wasn’t putting some huge pressure on me to learn a lesson that I was able to retain that one small one. We have no idea what our kids are taking in. As my wonderful friend Kelly says, “We are blowing a thousand bubbles a day and hoping that they catch one.” We may not know for almost twenty years the moments that impacted them. 

So if your summer has been like mine, and you find your tiny colleagues have more negative than positive to share: take heart. You can be doing a great work and be right where God wants you and feel like you are making no difference at all. Maybe you need to change your measuring stick. Look up instead of looking around. I have a feeling that you’re doing a better job than you think. 

  • Anna Etheriedge - Oh how true this is! I remember Billy Grahams wife saying she prayed her children would only remember the good and helpful things and forget the rest… they did, so i began to pray that too! And with 6 grown kids now 18-30, they have the sweetest and funny memories of growing up 🙂 Believe me there were tears and lots of chaos at times, and yet they remember such love and joy. God is amazing!
    It only gets better- love youReplyCancel

Dear God,

I want to remember how sacred this task is.

How the task of teaching tiny image bearers is not menial but eternal.

God I want to see their little hearts for the blank slate that they are. 

I want to remember the power of my words before they leave my lips 

not when the damage is done. 

God please give me eyes filled with heavenly perspective not daily duties. 

God lift the veil of busyness that clouds the importance of every small moment. 

God strip me of my pride, the pride that tells me I am able to do it all, 

the pride that takes credit for the heart change you unleash. 

Please forgive me for this pride that often whispers “you can do it all”

instead of the truth that I must bow low before you and ask daily for help. 

God I beg you to humble my heart. 

Fix my posture as one where I am no more important than the tiniest of humans in my house.

Humble me when my understanding feels greater and my heart grows hard to holy moments happening right in front of me. 

God please equip me. 

Equip me in endless conversations and late nights. 

Equip me in the middle of sibling rivalry and homework frustrations. 

Equip me in the day to day tasks that hit me like ocean waves… one after the other. 

Equip me when my body Is weak and my heart is hard. 

Pull away all the distractions and turn my head to see the beautiful days you are inviting me into. 

God forgive me. 

I am not too good for this. 

My higher education and deep desires do not make me less of a candidate for serving. 

No, Lord, my call is to lay down this small life I have and to pour out myself. 

In each second I am called to bow low to your holy name. 

My calling Lord, I know, is high, to love others and love you with my whole being. 

You’ve created me to serve my creator first and in that service to love his creation. 

God I see that I am your servant. 

I am unworthy of your grace and mercy. 

I did nothing to earn the forgiveness you poured out through Jesus sacrifice 

I, in turn, can spend all my days in service to your creation as a love offering to you and know a grander story is taking place. 

A story yet to unfold before my eyes but being written by my works nonetheless. 

You are a God like this, one that invites all the servants to enjoy the feast. 

In turn I will be grateful. 

So God multiply my love and affection to the people I serve no matter their reaction to my service. 

Fill me with holy happiness in the most mundane of minutes. 

Breathe fresh life into worn out hands that wash the same dishes and fold the same laundry. 

I know that these days will happen one tiny minute at a time that add up to a lifetime.

A lifetime that will be told by others and remembered with either great fondness or great hurt. 

Lord, with your help it can be with great joy that my

children remember these days.  

And it takes and it takes and it takes

I woke up at 3 am singing that line. Sometimes insomnia takes the form of repeated song lyrics you can’t quite place. Like a ferris wheel it spins around and I keep waiting for the ride to stop.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

As the words circle around in my head I watch 2020 like a movie playing out. The countless meals I cooked for hurting friends, the tears of my children when plans were cancelled and they couldn’t see friends, the funeral of a friends mom who was taken too soon and stanoprime the list goes on. Heartbreak after heartbreak. Tear after tear of a year filled with real pain and real loss.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

In the movie I watch Claire getting off the bus last March and I’m holding our 4 month old. I knew in my heart I wouldn’t see that bus for a while. I can see months of juggling four kids, their education, their church, their loss, and trying to keep it together. Nursing a baby while facilitating a zoom call for a 7 year old is not something anyone should have to do. There were months of Ben working extra long hours so he could keep his team afloat. I can see the countless nights we argued because we were all stuck in the house and I needed something I couldn’t get… reprieve. The hits felt like they wouldn’t stop. Painful phone call after painful phone call.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then I sent my kindergartner to school in our basement and watched my 2nd grader fall behind because she couldn’t go to school. I cried most days because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t do it all well. At night I would collapse exhausted yet awake, I knew what my kids needed but I couldn’t give it to them. We found the good of course… we went to the beach, went on walks, played games, and watched movies. We learned to turn our house into a school, church, office, and gym. We utilized every room and I kept praying for patience, hope, and change. We watched the country rip itself apart with lines in the sand and no grace or understanding. We read the news and then stopped when it seemed the only thing we could agree on was that no one could agree. We rode waves of fear, uncertainty, fatigue, and questions. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then school started… in the building. I thought we had survived. At least we could find a way forward. For a few months it looked like the worst may be behind us and that we had pulled off this almost impossible ask. Benji turned one, we celebrated what a joy he is but I quietly mourned that I had lost his whole first year. We mourned so much loss. The loss of normal, the loss stability, the loss of gathering as a church, and I wondered when it would stop taking? The kids asked when they could stop feeling afraid. They prayed every night for God to take the virus away. I told them we weren’t afraid. I told them we would be wise and seek the council of those who knew more but we were not afraid. Their little hearts hardly registered it all. They just knew there was pain and fear all around them and we struggled to bridge the gap at home.

And it takes, and it takes, and it takes

Then a storm blew through and devastation hit all around us. A pine tree fell on our house and missed our sons room by a few feet. Holes in the roof and our back deck caved in felt like an accurate representation of this year. We thought maybe the worst is behind us? We praised God for Benjis safety. Ben and I didn’t even care about the house in the wake of this year what was one more obstacle? Then numbers kept going up and the circle of the sick caved in around us. Then two weeks before Christmas Covid hit my dad. He got very sick and we watched Christmas slip away like all the other dreams we had for this year. 

And it takes.

And it takes.

And it takes.

Right before Christmas I tucked Briggs in one night and he just started to cry. He said “ mom is it true we won’t see birdie and poppy on Christmas? I heard you on the phone” I cried with him and told him yes buddy it was. My heart was breaking.I cried for another blow after a hard year. I cried for my mom who was at home riding the storm as my dad went in and out of fevers. I cried for my dad who loves our family gathering at Christmas. I cried for lost nerf gun fights and cousins cuddling watching Christmas movies. I cried because there had been so much lost. Was any of it huge? No, but small paper cuts add up over time. We were all sore and a little tender. 

Briggs asked if I would sing him the song that helps him sleep.In Christ alone, its the song I’ve been singing to him since he was a baby. In almost a whisper I started to sing

“In Christ alone my hope is found, he is my light my strength my song. This cornerstone this solid ground. Firm through the fiercest drought and storm”

And he gives, and he gives, and he gives

I left his room and  I thought there is someone who still gives in the middle of all the taking. There was hope to be found in the broken mess of a year we have had.

God always gives extravagantly more than we deserve because he gave us a Savior. Every night we would read a verse with the kids building up to Jesus birth and I could see it all. It was a glorious build up to the thing we all needed most… hope. His gift never aims to diminish the taking we will face but instead offers more hope than we could dare to imagine possible. I think that’s what I love about God, how honest the scripture is about our real struggle. Jesus was so upfront with his people about how hard life would be. It wasn’t that he gave them a way out of the pain but he did tell them he would give them more. “In this world you will have struggle but Take heart” he said, “I’ve overcome this world.” He was so honest. He was confident his gift would be enough in the middle of all the taking. 

He gives, and he gives, and he gives

My hope in Jesus won’t take away how hard this year was but this year won’t water down my faith either. I won’t be disappointed that God didn’t show up like I expected because I know he keeps showing up. I know he’s working in the broken mess even when I don’t know what he’s doing. He’s working in the pain and giving me what I didn’t even know I needed. I know that all the good I’ve been able to see is because of him and the hard I’ve been able to endure has been his doing also. This year has taught me that I am fragile, poised at any moment to be taken down but my God is able and worthy of all my trust. I don’t know what 2021 holds, it could be just as bad… in reality it could be worse. I know he will give though. In the middle of all the taking… he will give. 

*The line is from the incredible play Hamilton available on Disney+

I started working out when Colbie was a baby, at first it was the promise of an hour alone without all three kids and a chance to interact with adults. Then it quickly became something I really loved. I signed up for more classes and started pushing myself to actually set workout goals. I started back at classes this week after a short hiatus when Benji was born. My new classes are more challenging and I am realizing that the rice krispie treat parties for one I had regularly during pregnancy did not disappear when he was born. Who would have thought?

Part of my new class is running, I am not a runner, after years of running track I still struggled at the warm up half mile we did before every practice. When Ben and I started dating he once suggested that we run together and I told him I couldn’t run because I had small lungs. He still likes to laugh about that. I was a sprinter and a high jumper before everyone else hit puberty and caught up to me in height crushing my allusions that I was in fact good at high jump. Most people got better as they got older danabol, I peaked in fifth grade. So I decided to stick to writing and journal away my frustrations that my brothers got all the athletic and singing genes. While I still think my lungs are below average in size (and webmd confirms my suspicions) I decided that I would challenge myself because being in shape is about the only way I can keep up with all these little people I’ve birthed. These people who all get 12 hours of sleep every night and have plenty of energy and I suspect above average lungs based on their ability to scream the newest Olaf song (dear Disney, why?). 

So there I was running on the track and one of the girls in my class was right in front me, I passed her and started running, then had to slow down when my *small lungs gave out, and she jogged right by me, my teacher lapped me for a second time and kept going. I stayed in this awkward rhythm for the rest of the 12 minutes, speed up for half a lap, slow down, passed by jogger, then lapped again by my teacher. I noticed that this other girl in my class clearly had her rhythm, she wasn’t the fastest on the track but she had set her pace and was sticking to it. She didn’t slow down or speed up, it was like she had tren e entered a speed on the treadmill and was just moving. 

This year I have learned a lot about my “pace” in motherhood, in a season where there are 1 million things that need my attention I have learned to set the speed and just keep going. My very wise friend says, if its not a “hell yes” right now then it’s a no. I don’t need to look around or worry that I’m being “lapped” by some of the moms around me. Only I can set the speed for our not so little family and keep moving. She ended up running the entire time and I wondered how much of it was that she just knew her pace and didn’t waver? 

Each new years I try to do one thing, setting goals feels overwhelming in a time when my life is a bucket of unknowns so I just say one or two things I want testoviron online to do during the year. Last year I wanted to read every night and write every Tuesday while all my kids were in school. The reading part was way easier than the writing part but for the most part I did it.

This year the thing God placed on my heart was social media. I wanted to give it up for a season and reassess its role in my life. I would love to think it didn’t play a role but the wiser part of me knows it does. I don’t think social media is bad but it messes up my pace, I look around and speed up not because I feel like thats best but because I’m lagging behind in a race of keeping appearances. I decided this year that I would stop setting my pace based on everyone else’s but instead base it on what makes sense for our family. What will help all 4 of my kids thrive? What will give me the most margin to cook family dinner and get rest? What will create the most space in our schedule for my marriage to grow? I realized it was easier to ask and answer these questions if I wasn’t constantly bombarded by everyone else’s pace. 

I know i’ll rejoin the social media realm eventually. This isn’t a permanent thing but in a time when we are readjusting our rhythm I need to find my pace and stick to it. I need to ask God what pace he wants for my family and be Ok if its slower than I would prefer (which is hard to do if you feel like he’s handing out more to everyone around you). The one thing I have learned is that time is a relentless it is like my teacher on the track, lapping me before I even know what’s happening so while I can’t make her stop I can stop myself and ask, what’s my pace and do the best with the time I do have.

  • Kelly - I love this. I love the idea of accepting your pace. And it can be tricky to find it as it’s a moving target but also so humbling too. God is so gracious in giving us free will but sometimes I wish He would have installed blinders on my eyes so I wouldn’t even be able to see what others do. But here’s to finding out stride and having fun!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Milligan - Hi Tindell, this is so encouraging, we do need to find our pace and stop comparing ourselves to the world, it was never meant to be our standard.ReplyCancel

Ben and I got to spend almost six days away together for our anniversary at the end of the summer. It was magical.  I wish I could say it was hard to be away for that long, but our kids were in the very capable and gracious hands of grandparents and it was a long hot summer. It helps that when we talked to them they were always on some grand adventure or having fun with said grandparents. I have made a vow to be this amazing for my own kids one day when they have kids. 

Then Sunday as we drove home real life started to settle in. The real life of schedules and issues. The real life of exhaustion and work. The real life of doctors visits for toe walking and heart issues of wanting more and nightmares that seem to never end. Real life is just exhausting. It doesn’t help that I am super pregnant and realizing that we will in fact have another person to add to the mix in mere weeks. (spoiler alert we added that little man 10 days ago and he’s just the sweetest)

The real issue is that at my core I pride myself on being capable, self sufficient, and willing for most challenges. However in the past few months I have found myself feeling like a crappy everything. A crappy writer for not sitting down and writing more. A crappy parent for loosing my patience at all of my little peoples little problems. A crappy spouse for being frustrated that work never seems to end when I want it to. A crappy neighbor for forgetting to bring the new neighbors something baked and her ending up on my door to introduce herself (although when my very pregnant self was making introductions and children kept appearing from out of no where she seemed all too understanding). A crappy friend for feeling unavailable and emotionally disconnected. Through tears I told ben I just don’t feel like I can do anything well. This is not a tirade for pity but a good dose of reality that some seasons leave us anything but capable. 

I am not in a capable season, I am in a dependent one. One where I depend on help from loved ones, one where I depend on the prayers of good friends, and the grace of Jesus on a minute by minute basis. There are plenty of days when I am capable (and the enneagram 3 in me would love nothing more than to look like I have it together all the time) but the Jesus in me knows my weakness is an invitation to growth and depth. My weakness is an invitation to others to need as well. It drops the veil on the social media lie that my life is always buttoned up. I think along the way we have started to believe that to be a good christian meant to always look like we are doing good. I’m not sure when self sufficiency became a hallmark of Christianity but dependency was always the invitation. 

Come to me all who are weary… (Matthew 11:28)

Trust in me….(Proverbs 3:5)

Lean on me… (Proverbs 3:6)

Find refuge in me… (psalm 71:7)

Come and find rest in me…. (Matthew 11:29)

Gods invitation through Jesus was completely clear, I’m here for you. Life will not work without me so I’m sending my son to do what you can’t do, to save you from yourself. Whether life is going exactly as planned or life is crumbling beneath you the message is the same from God, I offer you life and life in the full. So my three year old can loose her mind because I won’t give her candy at 9am and my five year old can tell me I’m mean and we can forget every permission slip I was supposed to send to school and the truth is the same, I need Jesus when I have it together and when I dont. I need him because well because I’m human So my need doesn’t make me a failure it makes me grateful, that God knew and he saw fit to provide a way.  

Today marks ten years since we said I do! In the weeks leading up to Ben and I getting married I told my family I was so tired of everyone telling me how hard marriage was going to be. I was blissfully in love and didn’t want anyone to bust my bubble. They laughed at my inexperienced yet overly confident view of marriage. So, ten years in this is a tribute to all the things we heard before we were married and once we were about how hard it would be. The things that I didn’t want to listen to and to all the really beautiful things I had no idea were coming our way.  

They told us it would be hard.

When we were preparing to get married and the future was full of great unknowns. They warned us there would be days where we didn’t like each other. Times when we fought more than we agreed. Seasons where our voices would be raised and our hearts would break and we would maybe wonder what we did. They told us that it would take hard work, that marriage was a battle you don’t enter into lightly. They told us that ups and downs would come and expectations would go unmet and tempers would flare. 

They told us it would be hard.

As each new milestone approached, as circumstances changed, and as moods shifted. They told us we would have to learn to grow together instead of apart. They told us our differences would try to divide us. They told us our upbringings would cause each of us to write a different story of what our love should look like. They told us that we would say things we would regret and have fights that didn’t matter. 

They told us it would be hard.

They told us kids would change us. They told us that our dynamic would shift each time we made room for another little person. They told us that busy seasons would try to separate us and opportunity would try to divide us. They told us sleepless nights and job stress would threaten to break us. They told us our sin would ultimately break each others heart. They told us that more kids than adults would make things challenging. That schedules and everyday would cast out romance and replace it with routine. They told us years 7-10 would be our most challenging. They said the statistics weren’t in our favor. 

They weren’t really wrong. The last ten years have been a battle, a fight to stay in love, to stay in the game, to stay committed, to stay dedicated to what we entered into. The past ten years have been a beautiful picture of God’s unending grace and forgiveness as we’ve had to humble ourselves and ask on more than one occasion, will you still love me?

There are so many things they forgot though. In all the warnings they didn’t mention that the hard things would be like a refining fire making our love more beautiful than we knew possible. 

They forgot to tell us how much richer love is when you’ve been through the flames of hard times and sleepless nights and phone calls that brought you to your knees. They failed to tell us how much our differences would make us grow and how much more of a complete person you become if you let the challenges shape you. They forgot to tell us that you get to let your guard down and accept the scary reality that love takes vulnerability. They didn’t tell us how much we would laugh. They didn’t tell us that we would know exactly what to say when the other person needed to smile. They didn’t tell us we would always have a friend in the lonely times, a champion in the good times, and a hand to hold in all the hard times. 

The truth is I knew it would be hard, I was just scared we didn’t have what it takes. I was scared I wouldn’t be the woman I had promised to be on the day we said I do. I greatly underestimated the transformative power of sacrificial love and a God who is always willing to help you grow. 

I was convinced I knew so much back then but I didn’t know that sitting next to you would always be where I felt most at home.  I didn’t know I would still miss you when you went to work even years in. I didn’t know that these kids that helped us form a family would have your smile and your eyes. I didn’t know watching you be a dad would actually make me fall more in love. I didn’t know that some of our most mundane moments would become the most magical. I didn’t know that personal accolades would pale in comparison to what we would accomplish together everyday. I didn’t know that I would learn how to be truly dedicated no matter the circumstance. I didn’t know that I had so much growing up to do on that day ten years ago. They tell you its hard and its true but anything worth having takes hard work.  

We still have a long way to go, still so much to learn, so many more chances to fight and grow and we will. We will fight and cry and laugh some more but today I’m grateful for all the things on the other side of the hard times. All the little things that add up to really big things. Today I’m grateful that in all the things they told us there was so much more they forgot to mention.

  • Lisa Condrey Sheffield - So well written, Tindell! ReplyCancel

  • Anna - Loved!! Shared with all the young marrieds I know!
    32 years in- it only gets better 😉ReplyCancel

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