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Tindell Baldwin »

I decided I was going to post a few exerts from the book I am working on!

Feel free to comment and give feedback!

It feels like home

I still remember the feeling of driving up to Auburn, rental car packed to the brim with my life from the past 18 years. I nervously picked at my lip, a recent habit, and watched as we got farther from the place I had always called home.

It was nervous excitement, or at least that’s what I told myself. It was time to start a new life, one where no one knew that Stanfill was sononmys with bible studies and Jesus freaks. A place where I could finally be me outside the shadow of my family.

87 miles to go, my mom talked in a quick chatter like she always did when things were changing. My dad tried to make jokes about all the cow pastures he was seeing and I tried to look like this wasn’t the biggest change I had ever made.

An hour ago I had said goodbye to two of my best friends, both headed to different colleges. We weren’t emotional girls but this goodbye warranted tears so we cried and then made fun of each other for it. We hugged and promised things would be the same but part of me knew they never would. I watched as they pulled out of my driveway, we were as close as the sisters I never had and I couldn’t believe I wouldn’t have them for this next phase of my life.

80 miles to go, my mom is still talking about dorm colors and my dads wondering if anyone will think he’s in college. Sorority rush starts in a few days and I pray that no one knows my tainted reputation. I go over my outfits in my head, praying no one bought the same Jcrew dress that I had. I know rush means I won’t be able to party for a few days but I think my roommate brought some wine to ease the pain of move in. My thoughts wonder on until we finally reach exit 51, home for the next four years.

We pull our ugly rental into the dorm parking lot where parking attendants are directing us to the nearest parking spot. I wish we had brought my mom’s Lexus it makes us look so much cooler than this ugly rental, I make a mental note to mention its a rental to whoever my new suite mates are.

I know my best friend has already moved in because I see her car parked in the parking lot where we stop. The moving in process begins one heavy box at a time. I don’t like manual labor, sweating makes my make up smudge. I begrudgingly help as we make it up the three flights of stairs, no elevator. The dorms are old and smell like sterile cleaner. I hug my best friend and roommate and thank God to see a familiar face. The next few hours fly by and before I know it our room has become a home, a tiny TV sits at the top of big shelf, dressers crammed with clothes, and a desk full of computers and school supplies. This is the part i’m dreading, saying goodbye. I hate goodbyes, they have never gone well for me. I look at my mom who has tears spilling over her eyes.

I wrap her in a huge bear hug, the kind that says things will be ok. Despite our many differences or should I say biting similarities I know I will miss my mom deeply. She may not agree with my decisions and I don’t agree with her faith but she is my mom and in that there is a bond that binds us. She tells me she’s so proud of me and I can’t think of any reasons why. We don’t say a lot just hold each other and hope this isn’t really good bye.

I look at my dad, my eyes blurry. He holds me and tells me he will see me at class on Monday, I try to laugh but my tears are choking my throat. I don’t know what i’ll do with out my daddys protection but I try not to think about it.

In true Stanfill family tradition we exchange envelopes, their letters to me and my letter and CD to them. I have made a CD full of songs that remind me of our life together. Eighteen years full of memories packed into one tiny disc. “Home” by Michael Buble is the first song and my mom told me later that when it came on they pulled over on the side of the high way and held each other as they cried. Michelle branch is also on the CD, “Goodbye to you”, its a song from the CD my dad and I listened to on the way to father daughter camp my freshman year of college when my great rebellion was just starting. Fleetwood Mac’s, “Landslide” is also on there, when I was ten my dad told me he was about to show me the greatest song ever written, I took it literally and was sorely disappointed but it still made it. “My daughters eyes” by Martina McBride is also on there, my mom and I deemed it our song when it first came out, she said it reminded her of how alive I was as a child.

It was one of those days where you put all of your issues aside and love each other despite yesterday and the day before. I was hoping I would be stronger in this day, that I wouldn’t feel so connected to them but you can’t erase your childhood and more importantly you can’t shake unconditional love.

The next few days seemed to pass in a blur and I was more homesick than I ever thought I would be. I thrived though, surrounded by so many new people I loved making new friends. We quickly bonded with our suite mates when we all shared a bottle of wine and even met some girls from Atlanta down the hall. I was ecstatic to start sorority rush, it didn’t even occur to me that it might be a life changing event.

Just like there are times that we have to look above and say how great is our God there are many times that we have to know that Satan is alive and well. Every time we hear of another rape, suicide, shooting, death, or kidnapping we know that the king of lies has deceived even more than yesterday. Its days like this that we need to know how great our God is. Its times like this that God will remain good only when we remember who to blame for evil. Often times we look around our perverted world and want to shake our fist at God. We hear of another hurting nation and ask God, where are you? He sits where he has always sat, in heaven weeping for the people he created to live with him. Separated by a barrier of sin he has to watch as the course of time takes its toll on our world. Satan will be able to rule until Gods plan for earth is complete, so he seeks to kill as his dying wish. He wants our world to suffer as he has to suffer and in that he convinces people to act as he would see fit. He is the ultimate example of misery loving company.

Just the other day I heard another shocking story of one of my parents friends taking his own life and that of his wife. My heart broke a little bit, I don’t know this person or the family but I know that Satan has wreaked havoc in their life. Part of me wanted to blame God but then I remembered God only wills good for our life, he doesn’t cause bad, he tearfully allows it so that we may have our free will. Each day the news seems to grow worse because each day Satan gets a little closer to his death. We must reach the worst of days before God can make his glorious appearance, never doubt that he has stopped watching though. He hurts like we hurt, and his tears are laced with the sins of this world. Like a father weeps for a lost child our God weeps for a lost world. He made a way for us to be with him but only in our free will. He will never forcefully turn a heart to him because he lives off of our sincerity and let me tell you there is nothing more sincere than having a heart renewed by God. So when you are tempted, like me, to look around and ask God where he is, remember he is with you in your sorrow and also in your triumphs. He is with the dying and the brokenhearted and just because we refuse him access doesn’t mean he won’t stand with us and weep. God triumphs in good but he also triumphs over evil, in his perfect time.

I just had to write a quick post to say what a tremendous honor it is to actually have people read and comment on my writing. I have wanted to be a writer ever since I figured out how to work a computer and could play with the hundreds of fonts and colors that come on word. The only thing stopping me from pursing my dream was a lack of confidence. I have always had a hard time letting other people read what I write but this year God pushed me to start this blog. What an amazing response to being obedient! All of you have given me the confidence to pursue my dream and Lord willing I will be attempting to publish a book this coming year. Putting my heart on paper has never been an easy thing but I have an intense desire to help others who are going through what I went through in high school. I want to provide a glimmer of hope in this very dark world. I know the Lord gives us each special gifts to bring glory to him and his kingdom and I am praying everyday that his will be done in my dreams. So thank you for your support and please feel free to provide feedback/comments as you so feel led. I have no problem with criticism!

To him be the glory forever and ever!
  • kait - Tindell, you are such a talented writer. I came across your blog a couple of weeks ago, and I really enjoy each entry. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!ReplyCancel

The wind whips through the tiny tree in my back yard and the clouds slowly cover the sun to remind me of what tomorrow is. Friday marks the pinnacle of Christianity, not just that God would form himself into a human but that he would die as one to save the sins of the world. No matter what the world says about Christianity it can’t deny that we serve a unique God. Because this day marks the day when he distinguishes himself from the crowd. On this day he steps out of the limelight to take up his cross and he performs the ultimate act of love. A pure and holy God sacrificed himself in the most gruesome way so that he could have a tiny chance of knowing you. Jesus stands out from every religion not just because he died and rose again but because his love for us was his greatest mission. He had no ulterior motive, no other reason to die that day, except to take my sins on his back and wash me clean. He gave up everything so that he might gain your heart. He knew a lot of the world would reject him but he didn’t care. He didn’t make a pro’s and con’s list to decide whether he would wear a crown of thorns. The maker of heaven and earth looked into your eyes and said “I want to know you and if that takes dieing in the most excruciating way possible to know you i’ll do it.” See we all know the easter story but do we really understand it? Have we grasped the idea that someone loves us that much? He had all of the choices in the world and he choose you. Maybe it’s just because i’m new to the whole Christian thing but that gets me. For some reason when Jesus paid it all comes on at church I can’t help but tear up because I know where I would be had it not been for that cross. Had he not paid it all I would be paying for eternity. That is amazing grace.

  • Bobbi - Tindell…that is beautiful! And I still tear up when I hear Jesus Paid it All (or any of those other awesome worship songs). I also have tears flowing down my face as I read your heartfelt posts. You have such a gift, and we are so proud of you for putting it out there and sharing your heart and love for our awesome God. You are an amazing girl! We love you and Ben and miss you!! Aunt Bobbi and allReplyCancel

I want to be ten again and not have a care in the world. I want to go camping with my little brother, stay up late to see if we can hear Santa Claus, and jump in leave piles. I want to go back to nap time, snack time, and the comfort of my mothers hug. I want to return to a time before politics worried me and I knew the true meaning of poverty. I want to live in one house with all of my family and not need a planner to see friends. I want to go back to game nights, black jack with my dad, and long family vacations. I want to return to the baseball parks and watch my brothers proudly as I eat laffy taffy. I want to remember what it was like not to feel stress or anxiety. I ache to be back in a time when life seemed easy, I didn’t need to know the answers just how I was going to do my homework. A time when friendships seemed everlasting and I never considered growing up. Days before addiction and failure taught me who I really was. I never knew how good I had it at 3616 Robinson walk drive, I haven’t lived there in almost six years but the address is still imprinted in my brain. You remember a place that great, like the first time you go to Disney world or the beach. I think it still holds a tiny piece of me, the part I desperately want back, childhood joy.

My oldest brother always had a way of making me believe that God had great plans for me. Even when I was in the midst of trouble or knee deep in sin he would look me in the eye and tell me, “”Tindell God is going to do great things in your life””. I tried to brush it off like I did everything else but for some reason his words always stuck with me. He believed in me when he shouldn’t have and he didn’t give up on me even though all the odds seemed stacked against him. He knew that this was just a phase of my life and it wasn’t the end. He knew that one day God would turn my trials into glory for his name. There is no mistaking Gods work, he takes pain, heartache, and rejection and turns them into great things for his kingdom. Loneliness will turn into longing for him which will turn into fulfillment and might even turn into meeting someone which might turn into a family. Alcohol abuse and addiction turns into redemption that turns into compassion for others which turns into the spreading of hope. Ugly circumstances turn into great testimony. There doesn’t seem to be anything greater than a testimony of hope, a life transformed by a great God.

We are coming up on Easter as I write this and at church on Sunday they had people come out with big poster boards that had “I remember” with a portion of their life and when they flipped it over it had what God had done for them. One said I remember being homeless, addicted to drugs and on the back it said found God, now I work for a homeless shelter and am no longer homeless. One said I remember being in prison feeling hopeless and alone and the other side it said, found God and a wife and now I work for a prison ministry. Each cardboard had the same scenario, pain and heartache redeemed to fulness and joy. All the while amazing grace played in the background, ““my chains are gone, I’ve been set free, My God my savior has ransomed me”.”

See God would just be another god if it weren’t for stories like these, redemption that could only come from a powerful savior. It can only happen because he traded everything for a chance to win your heart. There could be no backside to the cardboard cut out but we each have an “I remember” time, pain that was so deep it is worth writing down but if you’ve found God then there is always a back side. He is always whispering in your ear, I made you to do great things for my kingdom.

My card would read like this, I remember addictions, heartache, and loneliness but the back would say, redeemed in 2005 married, fulfilled, and happily serving high school kids just like me. Nothing says how great is our God than scenarios such as these. We were all made for greater things, a chance to show the world the glory God deserves. Stories like these are the greatest testimony, it tells the world you have been through the dark but made it to the light. It tells the world that there is hope and most of all it tells them that they are not alone.

“I saw the way you were exposing your body and I covered your nakedness with my cloak. I took your shame and cleaned your broken heart, I cleaned your cuts and dressed your wounds. I put you in a beautiful dress and adorned you with beautiful jewels. I placed a crown on your head and lifted you up to your rightful place as my queen. Your beauty caused the earth to talk of my splendor and I made you perfect. Your beauty became an outward adornment in a world full of gloom. All who looked at you could see the deep love of a father.”

Ezekiel 16:8-14 (paraphrased)

What if we really believed this, that God had taken our shame onto him and made us clean and righteous? For me that word seems far too dignified, I know what I’ve done and the people i’ve hurt, righteous is much too big for me. I did nothing to deserve my righteousness but God did everything so that I could have it.

My parents wanted to make my eighteenth birthday really special, I didn’t deserve it but they went out to Tiffany’s and picked out this beautiful ring, it had a heart made of peals and tiny diamonds on either side. They planned a big family dinner for me and fixed my favorite meal, I felt so special. I was truly loved, I knew because I had done nothing to deserve this kind of favor but they lavished it on me anyway. When everyone had left my parents called me into their room and handed me a tiny box, robins egg blue with a white ribbon tied perfectly on top. I opened it and there was the ring, a symbol of my parents undying affection for their only daughter. I put it on and smiled with joy. Tears welled up into my eyes and I attempted to thank them for this precious gift. I slipped it on my finger as I walked up the stairs to my room. I couldn’t stop looking at it. The next day as I left the house I took my ring off dug a hole in the front yard and buried it. I figured I would save my beautiful gift for when I deserved it. Do I sound crazy yet?

I wanted to create a word picture for what it would be like to hand God’s gift back to him. To actually reject it. I have noticed that every time he offers us the crown that we don’t deserve, we take it from him smile with joy then want to bury it in the dirt until we are deserving. The point is if we are waiting to deserve the gift God has given us we will never deserve it. If we are waiting until the gift is rightfully ours we will end up burying it in the dirt and never recovering it. God has given you a beautiful gift, not because you deserve it but because he loves you and he loves to lavish you with presents. That story is not real but it might as well be, my parents are amazing loving parents who give me far more than I deserve. I am far unworthy of their love but isn’t it so much better that way? Isn’t it better when you can look someone in the eye and truly say I don’t deserve it, that makes the gift all the more special. God is holding out a precious gift to you and if you are waiting to take it until you clean up your life or get all the rules right I promise the crown will grow dusty and his hands will grown tired. He never asks us to clean up our life to find him he just says we need to call out to him and he will be there.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

2 timothy 1:7

Thats the only thing I can tell myself today when I keep thinking about the dollar signs looming over this trip to Uganda. I wonder if you can have buyers remorse about going on a mission trip, probably not, at least its frowned upon. The more I worry about the details of this trip the more I know I am supposed to go. The trip is in September and the lease on Ben and I’s house ends on September 1st so there is a chance I will be moving into the orphanage. Also I have decided to get my teaching certificate which means I will need to find a school that is ok with me taking two weeks off to go overseas. The details seem to much to take in so I remember where I have been, what I have come through, and what a miracle it is that I am even going somewhere to serve someone besides me. Andy Stanley once said, to remember how faithful God is look back on his past faithfulness. I will be going on this trip with the same organization that brought me to Christ four years ago.

The passion conference was in Atlanta and I only went to hear my brother sing, he always believed in me so in return I was abundantly proud of what he did even if I didn’t have the same faith. While I was there I saw Beth Moore speak about the pain of a sinful life and getting out of the “pit”. I was in a pit, in and out of drugs and alcohol, relationship after broken relationship, I needed my feet to be placed on solid ground. I was searching, but I didn’t know what I was looking for. I wanted a new life but with all of my old habits, I didn’t want to let go of the parties or my deep desire to be loved. Somehow in a way that only God can he showed up and I found myself face to the ground praying he would release me from my old life, and he did. I left the conference full of a joy that I can’t even explain but dreading making changes in my life. I broke off the relationship I was in and prayed God would bring me Christian friends, and he did. I spent a few tearful nights apologizing to my family and found repairing the relationships were easier than I expected, they had the ability to love me unconditionally. He also placed me in a bible study and introduced me to my husband. Every step of my life since then has been me learning to be obedient and him greatly rewarding me. I don’t deserve anything I have in my life. I don’t deserve a loving husband or a family that never fails me. I don’t deserve to be free of my addictions or healthy but Gods faithfulness has never failed me. Even through the trials he has never left my side. I can always find him when I return to the place where he found me, face down on the ground needing a savior. Redeemer is my favorite term for God because I know what that looks like, I can look at the life I lived before Christ and see that he has redeemed me.

So no matter how worried I am about the details of this trip I know God will make a way because he always has before. I know he will open doors like only God can and reassure me once again that no matter what I go through God is always looking ahead and making a way.

S u b s c r i b e
S e a r c h