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Tindell Baldwin »

Sometime at 1:00 am

Its 1:00 am in in usual me fashion I cannot sleep, instead of being tired I am inspired. I’ve always had problems with sleeping ever since I can remember, which sounds like a really old person thing to say but twenty three years is along time not to sleep. I used to leave all of my lights on and lay in bed with my eyes open to take the pressure off actually sleeping, i was convinced that the stress of trying to sleep is what made me stay awake. The strategy never worked, and neither did my moms attempts to poison me with a green herbal drink that tasted like grass. So here I am a decade later and no closer to solving my insomnia. Its weird what thoughts come to me when most of the world is asleep. I am semi convinced it is simply that God is busy during the day and I got chosen as one of the “lucky ones” he would talk to at night. If this were true though my writing would be much cooler and probably contain life’s great answers. Instead i’m just an insomniac with a pen, blank paper, and now a blog. Lately I’ve been thinking about my view of God and wondering how far off I am. Here’s what I have so far.
1. I think she is beautiful and mysterious and when she smiles it looks like the sun breaking through the clouds.
2. I think she loves me like my grandmother, a whole lot but purely because i’m family. My lack of effort has put a strain on our relationship.
3. He’s a little scary, like my dad when he starts talking about money.
4. She smells like my mom, like lavender and vanilla. (i’d say fresh baked cookies but my mom doesn’t cook)
5. He dresses like Kristian, in Toms and skinny jeans, and when he takes the stage everyone stares in awe
6. He is confident like Taylor, who could sell an old woman in white gloves a ketchup Popsicle (thank you tommy boy)
7. He laughs like my dad and tells jokes like him too, with a volume that could shake the empire state building and with his lips curled waiting for others to join in.
8. He is sensitive like Brett, with the kind of innocence that could make you spill your darkest secrets.
9. He listens like my mom, with thoughtful words and a pure heart.
10. He pursues like Ben, with a heart of Gold and a determination that can tame the wild.

Family is a tricky thing, you are bound to love people you don’t always get along with and so often we miss the joy that is family. Family has been downplayed and thrown away, convincing us that a relationship with the people that should matter the most isn’t really that important. We are a selfish society, caught up in what we can get. We don’t like that family requires love without something in return, at least I didn’t. My family gave me nothing in my eyes except a rule book to follow and brothers that annoyed me. I spent years abusing their love but when I changed they were waiting with open arms, they loved me even though they got nothing in return. After we mended our relationships I spent years trying to make up for lost time. I would come home from college for every birthday party, sick day, and family event I could. When my mom was hurting I rushed to her aid and when my family was in trouble I rallied the troops to fight through it. When my husband and I got married I had a hard time leaving a cleaving because I was so invested in repairing the damage. My family became my world and I couldn’t believe I had missed out on these relationships for so long.

When I was in the midst of my rebellion Satan had me convinced that my parents were the problem. I had to have a scapegoat because if I could see reality, if I could see that I was the problem then I might stop self destructing. I was the problem though. My parents did nothing but parent and for that I hated them. I wanted my freedom which I’m sad to say at sixteen isn’t yours to grasp. I wanted them to let me make my mistakes and stay out of my life. I wanted them to let me drown. I was one of the lucky ones though, my parents cared. Most of my friends parents knew we drank, they knew we were having sex, they knew we did drugs, but they didn’t care. The weird thing about being a teen is that you want someone to give you boundaries because you know deep down that you are hurting yourself, you know that this hurts and if you parents care enough to discipline then they love you. If they love you enough to make the hard decision then they care about your well being. If they punish you even when you kick and scream then you mean something to them. Parents like to think they are doing kids a favor by giving them “room to make mistakes” but that is selfishness with a fancy title. My friends whose parents wanted to be “cool”, the houses we’d drink at, the parents who smoked with us, I’m sad to say their kids never came out of it. Their parents sent a clear message early on that they didn’t care. They sent the message that your life is not worth the headache that it takes to parent.

I was lucky, my parents cared. My parents tried desperately to parent in any way that they could. They did everything to send the message that my life was worth more than this. I deserved more than I was allowing myself. My friends could see that. They often joked that they wanted my parents to adopt them, they loved being at my house and I couldn’t see it. I was so deceived that I couldn’t see the greatest gift God had given me.

  • lea marshall - thank you for these words. i have read this blog post (through tears) 5 times in a row tonight.

    we are in the middle of trying to parent like your parents. i wish they could show up at my house, hug me, and tell me to stay the course. but this post is the next best thing.ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - Lea,
    I can only imagine what you must be going through. I pray my story gives you encouragement and hope that your heart needed! What you are doing is worth it, hard but worth it.

    God bless,

    • lea marshall - the fact that the Lord led me to your blog is enough for me to know that He loves me. He hears my prayers. and He is at work in my daughter’s life… just as He was at work in your life. your story gives me so much encouragement and hope! thank you for telling it… all the glory to the God who tells His story of love and grace on EVERY page of His Word and in the lives of His beloved children.ReplyCancel

One of the many times that I got caught having a party at my house my parents were looking for a unique way to punish me, grounding me for months on end wasn’t working and I can only guess they were tired of me being around the house. They decided to give church camp a go, my brother was leading worship at the camp so they figured, what’s the worst that could happen? They really underestimated me.

The camp is in Panama City so I conned one of my best friends into going with me. We were placed with some other girls who were labeled “wild” and I quickly made friends with the girls. We would skip the sessions and get in constant arguments with our small group leader on why we had to wear one piece bathing suits. Whenever my small group leader tried to get me to answer questions I would spout off some smart answer about why I didn’t need God. During the worship sessions they had security guards around the hotel so none of the kids would leave, my youth pastor found me yelling at a security guard about why I should be allowed to go up to my room. I finally ran past him and dropped the F bomb. My small group leaders and youth pastors were left shaking their head and praying the worships leaders little sister would straighten up.

Four years later I was setting up for the youth leader meetings when I heard a voice I barely recognized call my name. I turned around to find my small group leader from so many years ago standing at the door, mouth open. “What are you doing here” was all she could manage. “I am an intern”, I said with a smile. She laughed; there wasn’t much else to do. The camp that I fought so hard to leave made an impact I didn’t even know about. I dedicated a summer of my sweat and tears into the camp and the best part is at the start of every week I got to share my stories of so many years ago when I was a rebellious camper who refused to wear a one piece.

God really does have a sense of humor. He asked me to go back to the camp to show everyone what miraculous things God can do. I promise that if you ever knew me during this phase of my life you would agree that it was a miraculous change.

  • Travis Fish - Haha This is an awesome and humorous story! I love it. I went to the same camp! What year was it?ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - I went in 2001 and 2003 and was an intern in 2007ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Moreton - I really love your blog, Tindell. I can't believe I just found it today! I have it saved to my Google Reader now and am looking forward to reading more!

    Kelly MoretonReplyCancel

Its been six days since I last sat down and wrote. Partly because of our thirty hour road trip to my youngest brothers engagement party and partly because too much has been running through my head to write. I have been in one of those places where I start a million things and only finish about one. I run around the house like I am in a huge hurry only to forget what I was doing. I blame it on ADHD although on my better days I claim to have outgrown that.

Whenever life gets crazy I have a tendency to want to micro manage it. I desperately want to grasp control of it and point it in the direction I know is best. I tell God to let go, I have this one and sometimes he does and life comes crashing down but most of the time he finds a way to make me let go. He makes me let go of all the things I think I needed and wanted and shows me my true desires. Its a painful process though, always worried that tomorrow won’t be what you hope. I always feel that God needs an extra set of hands, like he won’t survive without me. IF only, he sometimes chooses to use me to further his plan but most of the time its just taking one step after another. I have all these questions I want answered right now but God has eternity so pushes me to be patient and to trust him. I suck at that. I am horrible with patience and for some reason life has told me that if I don’t take matters into my own hands they wont be done properly.
Today he has asked me to trust him once again and be patient. I sulk…. how dare God ask so much of me? While this all says a lot about my own problems what it really tells me and God is that I don’t believe in him. Even though my story is pages and pages of God coming through I still ask him, are you sure you can handle this?
I hate it when people make me feel dumb, it happens a lot since I look like i’m eighteen and spend my days in high schools. I am always being asked whether I am late to class or if I am lost. I smile and tell them no i’m not lost I am teaching today. When I have a class with a co teacher they look at me like, how are you going to handle this? I am constantly having to prove that I belong. I don’t mind though, because I love what I do. I love helping kids, I love talking to them, and I love hearing their stories. I think God feels the same way when I doubt his judgement, plan, and ability to handle my huge issues. He shows up at my heart and I look at him like, what are you going to do for me. I mean youre just the God of the universe, you have only proven yourself through hundreds of years, are you sure you can handle my petty problems?
I have every reason to trust him and when he asks me to be patient I should know whatever he has for my future is far better than what I would have done. I guess I should stop asking God if he is lost in my life, he doesn’t need a map he needs me to follow.

I was lonely and begging God for new friendships and he listened and came through. Heather was my youngest brothers best friends, she was also the girl he loved. They had bonded over a spring break mission trip and since she was two years older than him they were waiting to date. I had met her a few times but because I was so self involved we had never really bonded. Then she decided to come to Auburn and because she was a year younger than me she showed up around the time I was making huge lifestyle changes. We bonded over one long car ride back to Auburn and became fast friends. She was everything I had prayed for and I learned more from her than I ever thought I could. She helped me navigate through the bible and I kept her entertained with stories from my crazy past. I taught her to give grace and she taught me to be a Godly woman.

After I decided not to live with my sorority sisters anymore we decided to live together with another close friend and had more fun than I ever thought possible. She introduced me to other awesome Christian girls and some of my best college memories are the ones we shared in our tiny apartment junior year. The three of us would sit around with a tub of ice cream until four in the morning laughing and telling stories. She helped me navigate through my new faith and even a few heartaches. She was there when I met my husband and when I got married she stood by side as my maid of honor. One of the great things about our friendship was that she was best friends with my youngest brother which gave me a chance to bond with him. He would come visit us and go to football games with us and before I knew it I had another great friend. I am proud to say that I gave the final shove that pushed them to date and in the fall I will stand next to her as she becomes my sister.
It is stories like these that make God so great, I could have never orchestrated that on my own but God could. He knew when I would need heather and he knew she would be a part of my life forever. God does what no one else can do, he works things out according to his plan to prosper your future. I could have fumbled my way through college and come out slightly bruised but instead I let him lead and I came out with a loving husband, great friends, and a family I would do anything for. God did that, not me. I had tried to live my life how I saw fit and it had ended up in shambles.
My first Christmas home was a great one, I had just started changing my life and had asked for a bible. Low in behold there was a tiny red bible sticking out of my stocking when I came down on Christmas morning. I skimmed through it and read the Christmas story while our whole family gathered around the fire in our living room. We had the first peaceful Christmas in years. Our family has a tradition that we do on all major holidays, we go around and say what we are thankful for. When it got to me my eyes filled with tears and I told them. I was thankful for their unconditional love. My dad was the first one to stand and he wrapped me in a huge hug and whispered, “you were easy to love”.
God is a great storyteller, he knows your life will be a lesson to someone else so he makes the plot thick with love, mystery, suspense, joy, and sometimes tragedy. He never does anything in vain though. He knows what will come, he sees the great ending but he also wants you to have fun in the in between.

I always feel breakable. like my heart could shatter at any moment. Always worried someone will leave or I won’t have the strength to stay. Control doesn’t help and meds won’t cure it. I am breakable, always placing my life in someone elses hands, always trusting others. The only place I have ever felt safe is at home, secure under my parents roof its almost as if evil doesn’t exist. There is never a more comforting feeling than being sheltered by people you love. I love the line in the Jon McLaughlin song beautiful disaster, “she just needs someone to take her home”, Its so true. Thats all I ever wanted, someone to take me home. I have always wanted someone to point me in the direction of my father.I have wanted life to have road signs pointing me in the right direction. My heart knows that no one can handle it better than my maker. So it beckons deep within me to take it home. It begs me to place it where it can’t be harmed anymore. This world will disappoint me, people will leave me, and I will suffer but if I can take my heart back home then I can preserve what really matters. If I can place all my hopes and fears back where I belong then the stings of this world won’t leave such a mark. If I can remember that living like i’m dying only works if I am really dying then I can break free of the gut wrenching feeling that I have to succeed in this life. If I can know that this is just an instant and the pain will never last then I can grin and bear it. If I know that in the end I just need to go home then I have something to live for. I have something un breakable to cling to. No matter how strong I hope I can be it will never be enough. I will never be strong enough to withstand the weight of life but then again I wasn’t asked to.

  • David/Laura Elmer - I'm guessing the title of this blog came from the Ingrid Michaelson song, but if not you HAVE to go listen to it. RIGHT NOW hahaReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - It did… LOVE that song.. it inspired me.ReplyCancel

I promised my mom I would go with her to hear my brother at our church’s good Friday service as long as she would let me go to a party right afterward. I was suddenly regretting that decision as we pulled up at the church. It was already seven o clock and I knew most of my friends would be drunk with out me. As we made our way into the candle soaked sanctuary something came over me like a wave of relief, I could almost feel God in this place. I quickly pushed it out of my mind, God had no place in my life.
They had set up the stage in the middle of the sanctuary with chairs surrounding it, I saw my brother playing the guitar by the cross they had set up in the middle of the stage. We sat in right in front of him and I gave a tiny wave. He was the only reason I ever went to church, my pride in his talent outweighed my hatred of church.
He starts to sing and I try to ignore the words as they seem to wash over me, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow”. I couldn’t help but wonder if he could really wash my sin away? I knew my sin was more of a black cloak rather than a crimson stain but for a second I wondered.. Could he set me free? Could he take this broken heart and fill it? Could he forgive the horrible things I have done to my family and friends? What about drinking? Well I have to drink, I don’t know how to be fun with out it and i’m in love, or am I? More words I try to ignore, “Oh praise the one who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead”. I knew I had a debt, that I knew. I knew I had too much sin for one man to take on. I needed my own cross. I needed my own Jesus and just like most men couldn’t I told myself Jesus could never help me.
I tried to stay strong and keep my thoughts on what I was doing after this but for some reason the tiny voice I had been trying so hard to destroy came to life. My heart began to quicken and I could almost feel forgiveness, I just had to ask. I didn’t want it though, I wasn’t ready to change so instead I let the tears fill my eyes and overflow down my cheeks. I cried for my broken heart and for the shame of my sins. I cried because I knew I needed Jesus but I wasn’t ready to give it up. I cried because I wanted to stay in this place forever, sheltered from the pain of the outside world. Sheltered from yesterdays broken promises and tomorrows failure. I cried because I wasn’t strong enough to make the right choice.
My mom reached her hand over and placed it in mine, a quiet reminder that she was there for me. I knew she was. I knew that one day I would cry because God had redeemed me. I knew one day we might be great friends.

When I was little my brothers and I had a game we would play with my dad on our family trampoline. I was, of course, the princess and my three brothers were the villans trying to capture me. I would sit in the middle of the trampoline while my dad circled around me knocking all my brothers away. We would play for hours, my brothers trying desperately to get through my dads barrier but he was always stronger (although now I bet that game would go much differently). I was never worried, I always knew that even though my brothers out numbered my dad they couldn’t beat his strength. If they would start to come too close all I had to do was call out to my dad and he would come to rescue the princess.

I imagine life isn’t a whole lot different, God standing in front of me protecting me from the evil in this world with his strength. He may be out numbered but he can never be outsmarted or over come. All I have to do is call out his name and he will come running to my aid. He won’t leave me stranded to fight alone. He knows things will try to attack but with the power of his hand I will not fall. He places me, like a princess, in the middle of his binding love and tells the evil things in this world that I have a place at the foot of the cross. I have a place where nothing can harm me. I have a place in my fathers arms. I may not be eight anymore but the principle is still the same.

Exodus 14:14

The Lord will fight for you: you need only to be still.

  • chelle - Stumbled upon your blog today… Read the one post, and then several more. You are an encouragement and I don't think it was really accidental that I "found" your blog! Exodus 14:14 is one of my favorite verses… thanks for blogging 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - Thank you so much! I love when I can encourage people although I feel bad taking the credit God has given me words.. im just the messenger!ReplyCancel

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