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Tindell Baldwin »

I woke up this morning with my puppy cuddled next to me, in my soft bed, and my entire trip felt like a dream. We traveled 24 hours to get our feet back on American soil and the fact that the trip is over still hasn’t hit me. I was expecting to wake up in Uganda, to the annoying rooster who thought 5am was an appropriate time to wake up. I was expecting to look out the window and see the city on a hill that had captured so much of my heart. Instead I woke up to no alarm, no sounds of laughing girls, and the sense that I had left something wonderful. Its hard to believe just hours ago I was somewhere so different. 

The trip itself was more than I could have ever expected, we traveled all over Uganda seeing the amazing work that Watoto is doing and tearing up and the heartbreaking stories of the people. Our host, Philip, took us on a new adventure every morning and each day we experienced something new God was doing. We heard stories of abandoned children who now layed laughing in our arms, we met woman who were victims of the war and were now restored to society, and we saw everyday that God is huge. Everyday we realized God was alive and well in Kampala, in the Watoto villages, and in Gulu. Not just was God alive he was changing a nation through these people. Our work was small, just ten days of taking care of babies, meeting people we’d never forget, and having some laughs along the way but our God is huge, powerful, and working. He used our small trip to minister to these people in big ways. They saw that God cared about them, that he cared about them enough to send much needed supplies and help through ordinary american girls. 

There are so many stories I want to share with you but for now I just wanted to leave a reminder to everyone that God is BIG. He is bigger than our nation, our dreams, and our visions. He is so much bigger than us and if we are obedient we can all be apart of his bigger plan. 

passport… check

shot record…. check 
mass amount of candy… Check 
The official countdown has begun until my flight leaves for Africa. This time tomorrow I will be on the final leg of my journey and almost landing in Uganda. I wanted to write a quick post to say thank you to everyone for the immense amount of support and prayers I have received. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity from my friends and family. I couldn’t have done this with out each of your support and I hope you know that Jesus is going to change this nation. I will have a fraction of an inch to play in his great plans but I am honored he will send me to carry out his work. Our team is going to praise the name of Jesus by showing his life changing love. I have no doubt that lives will be changed but I have a feeling that he will change our lives just as much as he changes the kids we are going to love on. A friend of mine had a shirt on that I think described my feelings exactly, it said “I need Africa more than Africa needs me”. 
How true. I am going to be bring jesus but to also be reminded how much I truly need Jesus. 
To him be the glory forever and ever! 
Talk to you in ten days! 
James 1:27 
27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

After a monday filled with middle schoolers I come home only to be met with dishes needing to be done, boxes needing to be filled, and a sea of dirt needing to be vacuumed. Instead of doing any of it I crash onto our bed in a puddle of tears. What was I thinking planning a two week trip to Africa when there was so much to be done here? All of the reasons I shouldn’t go came crashing in one giant wave of fear and I found myself praying that God would get me out of this. I decide the best thing to do is get out of the house and since I am supposed to meet my friends at bible study in an hour I head towards church. The weather matches my mood as it has been flooding all day and I have to fight the sea that is Houston to get to church.

Worships begins and I let the words wash over me as I remember why I signed up for this trip in the first place. My sister in law, who is also going, asked me to remember the moment God told me to go so I as I sing “Holy is the lamb” I think back on that day.

It was one of the long drives back to houston, I had just been in Atlanta with a friend and we had a twelve hour car ride ahead of us. Kerri had just told me all about the trip and the miles passed and the hours ticked on I couldn’t get the trip out of my mind. By the time we arrived in houston I had asked Ben’s permission and signed up for the trip. It was as clear as day, God wanted me to go.

Here I was though, ten days before the trip, wondering why I was going. The song ended and they started the hymm “In Christ alone”. The song builds until I am in tears by the lyrics,

And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From a life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

In a few lines it becomes clear as day, its as if God is whispering in my ear, “this isn’t about you” and I realize it’s not. I’m not going on this trip for me, I am going to show these kids the love of Jesus. I am going so that one day someone will tell them that Jesus loved them so much that he sent people to love on them personally. I am going to show them what people showed to me so many years ago, that God loves them.  They are just babies, they won’t ever remember my name but I know that one day they will know the powerful and holy name of Jesus Christ. That is why I am going to Africa.

Its sunday night and Ben and I are rejoicing that we don’t have work tomorrow (although that is most of my days) and we are celebrating by packing boxes. I can’t believe a year ago we moved into this house, our first house as husband and wife. I remember the first night we moved in, our mattress was laid on the floor and boxes covered every inch of the house. We had spent twelve hours in the car and then I proceeded to unpack the entire u-haul, I was nesting as psychologist call it, I call it me going crazy. After a few hours of unpacking we dropped into bed in sheer exhaustion and just started laughing, we couldn’t believe we were really where we were. We had gotten married, gone on a honeymoon, packed up my life, and moved to Houston, TX. It was the last place I expected to be two months out of college but I guess that’s why I don’t make the plans.

Now here we are again, one year later, repacking the boxes and moving into our next place. I am praying it will be a happier place, I am praying that this next season will be a peaceful one. See no matter how much i love Ben I couldn’t stop life from happening when we got married. I couldn’t predict the feelings of guilt from leaving my family, I couldn’t predict the loneliness that would fill my days, and I couldn’t predict life changing circumstances to arise every time we almost got settled.

However, even with the rough times this house still holds a world of good. It was our first home. It was what we came home to. It was where we would sit every night and rehash our days, sometimes with a hot meal if I had been a good enough wife to cook that day. We had our first Christmas here together, although we couldn’t wait till Christmas day and had no chaperone’s so we had our first Christmas twelve days early. It was wonderful. We had friends over for dinner, some friendships that we will have for a lifetime. We have gained so much its hard to remember why I was so weary to leave in the first place.

Leaving Atlata was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Right before Ben and I left the wedding my brothers, my parents, and I all got in a big circle and cried and hugged each other I guess we knew everything was going to be different. I had to let go of my wonderful family and start my own. That moment still makes me want to cry. After the honeymoon I packed with such sadness I thought the whole room could feel it. I cried with every picture frame, journal, or anything that reminded me of my childhood. I spent most of the day crying. When we finally got it loaded I turned to my mom who was waiting to give me one last tearful goodbye as I got into my car, I no longer lived there. She hugged me and told me they’d come visit soon. As we drove away I saw the tears streaming down her face and she sank into my dad. I did the same to Ben.  Driving away was one oft he hardest moments in my life.

But here we are packing boxes and not to move back to atlanta but to a loft in Houston. A year latter and the storm has calmed. We have met amazing friends that feel like family. We have been blessed with job security and while my schedule is constantly changing it works.

I thought when we moved out here I would just get a job and find friends and be settled. Then when that didnt happen and I realized I didnt want a normal job so I started subbing and now helping at a Pregnancy help center. God knew why he wanted me here. He wanted to me to here to bond with Ben and to let go of my parents. Most kids arent the ones who have to let go of their parents but in my case i must. I must realize they don’t need me as much as i wish they did and keep going with life. It has been a hard transition but God has never left, he always gave me encouragement and he gave me Ben. Ben can right all the wrongs in my life with on of his smiles and often he does. Ben is my greatest blessing but we also have Jesus and Ben and I couldn’t have worked without Jesus.

So we pack boxed for the next adventure in our marriage. We wonder what new friends we will meet or what job I might actually take. I wonder what God will call us to because at this point im open for anything. For now though we will just pack our boxes and remember our first year together.

Thirty set of eyes follow me to the front of the room, most of them are my mothers age or older, I can tell what they are thinking, “what are you going to tell me that I don’t already know”, the same thought is running through my head as the executive director of the pregnancy help center introduces me as the next speaker. 

My youth has been a struggle since I graduated, wanting to do more than society tells me I am able along with the unique circumstance that I am blessed enough to work only part time, i find most of my days are spent with woman double my age and most of which wonder the same thing, why are you here? At first I can’t help but buy the lie, I have nothing of value to add to this conversation. These woman had been through trials, life, children, death, and I was just beginning. I have not yet had children, faced real death, or come close to a serious crisis. I have struggled my way to adulthood, that is certain but I have not been through the trials that come with age. The enemy uses this to tempt me to give up, to abandon my abnormal path for a more traditional one. I could work a few years in a 9-5 and then have a few kids and be the soccer mom but if i am honest with myself I know God has called me to something different right now, I am not yet ready for motherhood and the 9-5 job, I don’t think i have the strength or attention span to do that. 

She asked me to speak because I am significantly younger than the rest of the woman in our training, she has asked me to speak about my generation. It is the one thing I have confidence in, I know where I came from and what I grew up around and since I spend a lot of my days in high schools I can tell you it isn’t much different from when i was there 8 years ago.

So i start, my knees are shaking as I ask God what he wants me to say but as always he gives me the words. I begin to tell them what society had told me as a teenager and the darkness of death that surrounds the current generation. I told them why sex is not valued or considered sacred, I told them how these girls want more than anything for someone to love on them. I tell them about Kerri.

I had one person who loved on me outside of my immediate family, my sweet Kerri, she was my real life guardian angel and I don’t think she knows today what an impact she had on my life. She would take me to Starbucks and let me vent about my latest drunken escapade and insert truth where she could. When I was in crisis i knew she was only a phone call away and there were plenty of times she would come into my room in my greatest moment of need. She always told me I would make it out of this, that i was meant for better. I tell them when i was first considering the worst decision I would ever make I went to Kerri.

I tell them about my greatest regret, sex outside of marriage, and my greatest healing, the day i found my lord and savior. I tell them these things because personal testimony is proof that the insurance you sell isn’t fraud. See my desire is to help teenagers, its to help the brokenhearted girls of this generation and i will go about any means necessary to help them.

Thats why I am training this week to help in the center, because I want to help teenage girls in any capacity. I want to share Jesus redemptive power and I want them to know they are not alone. So i shared with these older woman so that they might carry the same desires into their work. It was just a story, but it was one God had given me and those are always the more powerful. 

So i might be young and not have nearly the life on me that these woman have but i also have a greater understanding of what is going on in my generation which God can use. The world tells me I am not old enough to teach and God tells me I am just the right age to teach his word. 

Praise Him. 
  • Anonymous - i'm neither a teenage girl or older woman… well, actually not female at all haha… and tindell, you my friend just touched me. it's funny how we actually start to believe the "truth" satan and this world throws at us… that whatever crazy/illogical/possibly insane idea, passion, or desire in our heart simply can't be done… then we (myself) finally wake up and realize that he's exactly right… "i can't"… and then I remember WHO can. I'm sitting here close to my breaking point, overwhelmed, and up to my neck in stupid med school material… wandering why in the world i'm here and how insane it is to think i can actually keep going. and even though i have very little relevance to this blog, YOUR testimony and faithful desire (from Him) has inspired me. our Daddy has us right where He wants us, and our confidence can rest in that. so thank you for your real and raw words… i needed them. hope all is well and i'll be sayin (left that g off so you'd kno i was still gangsta) a special prayer for ya tonight!
    your old bud,
    drew smithReplyCancel

Doctors always ask me when my insomnia started, when was the first time I remember not being able to sleep. I think for a minute and decide the better question was when was the last time I remember sleeping. When I was a baby my parents had to turn my door knob around to lock me in so I couldn’t wander the house at night. By elementary school I was so scared of the silent dark I would fall asleep with all the lights on and a book on tape running, preferably Romana because she was always getting into trouble like me. When things got really bad I would end up on my parents floor, feeling safer just knowing they were there. I think I spent most of my childhood sleeping on the floor. Its odd how fear can take over your life. The sun would start to set and the familiar fear and dread would creep up on me. My parents tried everything to calm my fears, logic and reason were out the window so after one business trip my dad brought me home a tiny light house. He told me God was in the top watching me as I sleep. He told me that as long as God was watching me while I slept then I would be safe. I wish I could say it worked but at the age of ten a tiny God in a metal figurine wasn’t all that comforting. However I put it on my dresser as a reminder that God is watching and am proud to say it still sits there today.

What i couldn’t grasp at ten resonates clearly in me today. I can rest, I can sleep, I don’t have to fear because my God is always watching me. While I am no longer (that) scared of the dark I have fears. Fears about my future, my family, my career, my health, my friendships, my marriage and if I am not careful it will overtake me. If I am not careful the fears can block out my God in the light house. He is still there though, just like the figurine i move with me from place to place he never leaves. No matter the season, the city, or the circumstance my God has remained with me.

Im sad to say that my insomnia hasn’t gotten any better, doctors blame it on a creative mind but the fear that used to clutch me when i was younger no longer has a hold on me. I know I could ditch the light house and God wouldn’t leave but I can’t help but look at it and remember these words.

I will lie down and sleep in peace, 

       for you alone, O LORD, 

       make me dwell in safety.
Pslam 4:8

  • Laina - Love this! I have been dealing with the same thing recently. I have this consuming fear about so many things, my husband, my marriage, my future but it is so comforting to know my God will take care of me through everything.
    I am doing Beth Moores study on Esther, and in one of the chapters she talks about fear, and how once satan knows your fear he will latch on to it and do everything he can to keep you in that state. She also talks about how you cannot have conditional faith, but you have to trust God in all circumstances. Sometimes we just need to be remined of how much God is in control. It is such a good study!
    1 John 4:18
    Anyway, i'm done with my rant 🙂 keep up the bloggging, you have an amazing gift!ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - That is awesome! I just finished a study on esther by chuck swindoll! It was awesome! Im glad to know im not the only one who fear can consume. Glad you ranted.. it gives me encouragement to know people are reading 🙂ReplyCancel

Over my two week span at home we went to the lake, our first family vacation in what feels like forever. My grandparents good friend, who is a writer, came to give me some advice and ended up teaching my whole family a world of God. My dad calls her pretty Aunt Kay because she looks like a million bucks, even at 70, and has been apart of their family since my Great grandmother started the first womans bible study in Atlanta. She is one of those wonderful honest speakers, the kind that doesn’t fluff up the truth to make you feel better. While sitting on the dock she said something I haven’t been able to shake, “life is a series of shattered dreams” she tole me.

I was hoping it wasn’t true, surely God doesn’t want his children to have shattered dreams. Surely he wants us to be happy. It bothered me, I have a strong attachment to my dreams and was not ready to let them go. It has been almost a month since then and every time I hear something discouraging her voice pops back into my head, “life is a series of shattered dreams”.
Finally yesterday I sat down to hash it out with God, I had to let him know that this child was not OK with a life of shattered dreams. So I went on a walk with Aiden and tried to convince God that I know best. (Sometimes I feel that he lets me talk just so he has something to laugh about with his friends)
The more I actually considered it the more I realized it was true. We all have things in our lives that are shattered dreams. Maybe a family member is living in a pit of sin, maybe a divorce that seems unfair, maybe sin has ripped a friendship apart, or someone you love got delt a bad hand. It seems that the more you talk to people the more you see that this life is a series of shattered dreams. Diseases, disappointment, death, pain, addictions, the list goes on and on and all of us had dealt with it in our lives. We hope and pray that our life will turn out one way but then life actually happens and our dreams shatter and in their place is Gods hope. The dreams we had for our family die, the dreams we have for friendships die, the dream for our marriages, and mostly the dreams we had for our selves. As much as i was hoping to prove her wrong, me having the great wisdom of twenty three and her of a lifetime, i realized she was right. God tells us that in this world we will have trouble BUT we can take heart because he has overcome the world. Each shattered dream was meant to teach us something, that our God will never fail and we weren’t meant for this world. We weren’t meant for the broken we were made to be in perfect peace with our creator. As long as we are here our dreams will continue to shatter but as long as we put our hope in Christ we have something to hold on to.
A friend of mine was recently re diagnosed with cancer, another one is dealing with an unfaithful partner, another one depression, the next financial turmoil. The list goes on, the situations and names slightly changed but all revealing the same thing we live in a world of shattered dreams but for a God whos promises never fail. So pretty aunt Kay as much as you are right I think you need to ad another part to your truth. Our lives maybe a series of shattered dreams but our God has promises that never fail.

Life has told me that if something is going to get done i have to do it myself. Life has told me that if i want to look out for anyone i should look out for me, it has told me i am the top priority and other people will never stay. Life has told me we are all broken sinners with an aptitude for letting others into our sin. Life has told me that people are cruel, men are scary, and fear is my only companion when the sun goes down. Life has taught me lessons I wish i never had to learn, showed me things i wish i never had to see, and promised me dreams that will never come true. Life keeps telling me to right the wrongs with more wrongs, run the race alone, and depend on my own strength. It has told me that the weak won’t survive, that death can’t be rejoiced in, and that God left me along time ago. It tells me my faith won’t weather this storm and my heart won’t handle anymore disappointment. It tells me so many lies on a day like today and there reaches a point where I almost forget where I can run.

I think thats what first drew me to Jesus, the radical way he offers a new kind of life. Forget me, abandon my wants and needs, and live with a greater purpose. Forget this life, death is just the start of something wonderful. It sounds so weird on paper, so different from the lies we have been swallowing each and every day. Be weak he tells me, let him be strong, care about others, live for him. I can forget about people doing wrong if I remember that he has always done right. He never has let me down, through family brokenness, relationship failure, seasons of depression, he has remained my constant. It’s always tempting to leave him though to “follow my heart” and run back to a life that seems more natural, especially in seasons such as these. In seasons where I am trying desperately to figure out life. The only way I get through it is to remember his past faithfulness. I will remember that every time I ran back to the world I was smashed and every time I sheltered myself in his abundance I was made whole. I will remember who has never faltered or failed me and remember the only one who gave his life for my heart.
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