Tindell Baldwin »

My nephew is a master manipulator, the combination of his adorableness and his tiny three year old voice can convince you to do anything. When he started eating real food we instantly bonded over love of anything sweet and I started bringing him little goodies every time i’d see him. Every time he would see me he would smile that little kid smile that makes you melt and say “aunt tindy can I have some mm’s”. I always gave in, after all when he got fussy I could just send him back to his mom. One day he was at my parents house in my old room and he looked at my mom and said “Birdie, (my moms grandmother name) Aunt Tindy loves candy” she laughed and said “yes she does boo” to which he replied, “I love tindy”. They soon figured out that the copious amounts of sugar I was giving him made him rather moody and told me I had to shut the candy factory down. So I did my best to cut back on the sweet shop and he figured out while Isaac tried to figure out how to trick us into giving in. He would see me reaching for some cake and look at me and say, “whats that”, as if he didn’t know. I would say, “its cake buddy” and he would look up at me like he had never seen it before and say, “i can have a little piece”, as if I had asked. He also started telling his dad that things were good for him, like brownies, cookies, and ice cream. Perhaps one of the funniest things he started doing was when he would see something he really wanted he would come up and grab my hand and say. “tindy I show you” then bring me to whatever he wanted and when I would say no he would say. “I can hold it though”. Every time there was a desert he couldn’t have until after dinner he’d say. “I can hold it though”. He would walk around my parents house with his pockets stuffed full of lollipops and fruit snacks waiting until we would say ok. Any candy he saw he wanted to hold it, staring at it with his big blue eyes. Occasionally we would find him in the corner lollipop in his mouth and a guilty look on his face like it had just been too much to bear. It was hard to be mad at the little guy when I sympathized so much. He thought he could handle the temptation but in the end it won.

Sometimes I feel like kids are humans in their purest forms, before they figure out the politics of life. They are ruled by their wants and their needs and could care less what the rest of the world thinks. Not much has changed though I am still clinging to my life and my temptations telling God, “I can hold it though”. He knows I cant, he knows its to much to bear. He knows that my flesh will give in and I will end up ashamed in the corner, lollipop crusted on the corner of my mouth. We tend to think that nothing is bigger than us, that we can hold onto it all and let God pick up the spare pieces. He can get what I can’t hold, we tell our selves, if there is anything left. So we cling to our lives, our future, our friendships, our spouse, our finances, whatever it is. We think we know how to hold the things we have been given. All the while God is trying to help us but we keep saying, “I can hold it though”. I can handle whatever this world throws at me until we break down. We think no one is looking, we sneak a taste, a touch, a listen and are caught guilty.
I am only looking out for Isaacs best when I tell him no, it hurts me more than it hurts him. I would give him the world if I could but sometimes that starts with no. I think God feels much of the same when he has to say no, no to a job, a love, or whatever else. He knows though that if we will just wait he will give us something better, bigger, and fulfilling.

God is not too good for irony and symbolism, in the bible he plays off of them, demonstrating a deep connection with his peoples hearts through each generation. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac giving us a human picture of his own heart wrenching sacrifice. David became king at age 30, the same age that Jesus started his ministry. Jesus was a storyteller, a master of his language, seeing that even the small things would captivate the people he had created. He displays his deep seated devotion to us by making strives to relate to us in a human way, even though he is not human. He is hold and in his holiness God chooses to act human, it is his way of courting us, making us feel as if we can truly relate to the God of the universe. Suffering as humans suffer, feeling as humans feel, and accepting that his own people would give his love back to him. Gods love is strewn throughout the pages of the bible, the humbling of himself when he was something so much greater simply so we could understand. He sits on a glorious throne and at your doorstep. He is praised by all creation yet he is rejected by mere humans. He knew our minds could never grasp all that he is so he came up with a way to relate to us. He tells life’s greatest lessons in the form of children stories, he does miracles to grab our attention, and thousands of years later we are still amazed at his irony, sense of humor, and powerful love. Our God is not a boring God, nor does he act in vain. He makes purposeful moves to demonstrate his deep connection to our souls. He makes us laugh in grief, smile in pain, trust what we cannot see. We often want to rattle off reasons for things that seem too coincidental but what if we started giving credit where credit is due.

One of the fears I had when I became a Christian in college was that I would have to give up a part of my life I greatly enjoyed, fun. I thought I would trade in the bars for Friday night bible study and early morning prayer breakfast. I thought, like many people do, that God is a rule follower and doesn’t enjoy laughter, humor, or even celebration but I came to learn that not only is that not true but God enjoys our celebration and laughter, after all he created them. I had bought into the lies of this world that fun only came with drinking and partying, I looked on the Christians in my high school and felt sorry for them. I thought they were missing out on all the “life” I was enjoying. I didn’t realize until I cleaned myself up that my partying had caused scars that God so desperately wanted me to avoid and the alcohol I thought made my life so fun was holding me hostage under its allusion of parties and fun. It wasn’t until I tried to give up my old life that I realized not only how wrong I was about Christians but how wrong I was about my sin. My sin was controlling me not the other way around. So after four years of running from God I decided to give over my life to him, starting over at 19 wasn’t easy and it did require sacrifice but I gained my freedom in return. God brought me deep friendships that didn’t require alcohol or compromising who I was and he taught me how to enjoy life. I had spent years pushing my family away and then I realized they were the best friends I could find. Its no surprise that I learned how to have “clean Christian fun” in the midst of my loving family and I saw my old sin for what it was, chains. I saw people trying to reach freedom with each sip, hoping it would release the person they really were or make them who they wanted to be. I could finally see the lie. I learned to be myself despite socially awkward situations and found laughter was more fun sober, Saturdays were better without a hangover, and fufulling Gods purpose for me was more rewarding than any Friday night. God doesnt ask me to sit at home on Friday night and since following him I have given up a lot to gain it all, I met my husband and had my greatest desires satisfied. I have found lasting friendships that cant be shaken by distance and a constant guiding hand that never leaves.

Two weeks ago Kristian and his band came in town(please see www.kristianstanfill.com) and I knew we would be in for a fun weekend. After playing Saturday night his band of him and four guys came over for game night. We didn’t actually end up playing games but we did listen to Miley Cyrus while the entire band danced around my living room singing. We told stories and laughed and I thanked God that he rescued me from a life that left me wanting.
Do not love the world or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him.
For everything in the world, the cravings of sinful nature, the lust of your flesh, and the
boasting of what he has and does, comes from the world. The world and its desires will pass away
but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
1 john 1:15-17
  • Ben Baldwin - Nice verse, where'd you find it? 🙂

    Love you, and I'm so proud of who you are.


Ben spent this Saturday making a slingshot out of surgical rope and a stick he cut down from one of the few trees in Texas while I cleaned the house and planted flowers in the front yard. We went to home depot, argued over the color of flowers, and took the dogs to chase ducks in a pond near our house. I bought gardening gloves and spent 45 minutes debating with him over whether I had planted the snapdragons too close together and then it hit me, when did I become a cliche? When did the lines I always laughed about in Old School really become my life. I might not be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen all day but I am in there quite a bit. As a couple in our sunday school class put it, when did I start living a life just like everyone else? When did I start caring about dried flower arrangements and china patterns? When you are young you convince yourself that you will avoid the life that everyone else has fallen into and when you get older you come to accept that you really cant. I always said I would never be a housewife who spent their days cooking and cleaning and saying sentences like “put the toilet seat down” and “don’t get mud on the floor I just mopped” then I got married. Its time like this you realize the world really has nothing to offer and you can only be content when you put your focus on above. I get more joy out of watching Ben shoot his sling shot at trees, while Aiden cuddles terrified in my lap, that I ever thought possible. Texas has taught me that my ducks will never line up in a row but I can make a choice to focus on the things that really matter. Whenever I feel myself saying I will be happy when… I tell myself that if I keep this mindset I will never be happy. I can climb each step convincing myself the next one will make me happy but I will never get to the top or I can accept the step that I am on knowing God has me here for a reason. So ill sit here and watch ben shot rocks at the tree and thank God for the blessings I could so easily pass by.

When I started substitute teaching I knew my life would be more entertaining but I didn’t expect to enjoy my days so much. I found myself popping out of bed at 6am ready for a new adventure. My first real experience with high school freshman left quite a lasting impact. It was only my third day to be in a classroom with kids and I could feel my little heart pounding as I made my way through the maze that they call Katy High School. I met the teacher in her classroom since I was only doing the afternoon and she explained to me how the rest of the day would go, warning me about a few problem children in her 5th period. I was supposed to be reading them articles about AIDS in Africa and then going over the questions and prompting them on the right answers. She thanked me in a hurry and made her way out the door. Twenty pairs of eyes looked up at me expectantly, I thought this might be what it would be like to be an actor, I smiled back. I managed to quiet them down and read through an entire page of information about the horrific tragedy that is AIDS in Africa. One of the boys who sat in the front row looked up at me slightly dazed as I asked the first questions.

“Ok guys what are four things we learned about AIDS in Africa”
The boy in the front row looks at me smiles and says, “you have the voice of an angel”. The entire class erupts in laughter. I can’t help but laugh along with them at this pre-pubescent boy attempting to sweep me off my feet.
I looked at him laughing and said, “i’m almost ten years older than you”.
He didn’t miss a beat instead he looks up at me and says “Age is just a number”.
At this point the class is really loosing it and I do my best to calm them down trying to get back to the subject at hand, AIDS in Africa. I managed to get the answers out of them and have a few laughs during the rest of the period.
In the weeks following I learned how to laugh with the class, help students with whatever they were doing, and learn some things along the way.

Tomorrow my mom turns twenty one, OK maybe not, but in spirit she is still as young as ever. Sadly I will not be there to give her a big hug and tell her how much she will always mean to me but I am hopeful that in the coming birthdays I will be there. I’m never sure how to thank my mother for all she has done for me, its like trying to repay a million dollars with a penny, its never quite enough. How can you thank someone for molding you in the person you have become? How can you thank someone who is so selfless despite years of pain? The world told my mother that she had every right to demand of us that she be first but not only did not she listen but she applied God’s teaching of others first and she practiced it in every area of her life. My mom is the lifeline every one needs but will only call a few when she is really hurting. She makes friends every where she goes and I don’t know one person who isn’t blessed by her presence. To the outside her job might have looked trivial, a mother of four, but her legacy is endless. Her family is already at ten and still growing and each one of us has risen up and called her blessed. My mom has truly embraced the concept of living out God’s will. Each and every day she reaches out to those around her in the small ways that really matter, she loves the people who are often forgotten. She loves the lady at the dry cleaner, the workers at her favorite stores, the bank teller, and anyone else she meets along her way. I believe my moms palace in heaven will be on a hill over looking the view so she can see some of the beauty she helped create, people that she met a long the way and with a loving smile and pointed them to God. People often forget the little things that God has asked of us, considering them to unimportant, always waiting on the big task God wants of us not realizing that we can only do the big things when we have grasped whats really important, loving others. My mom knows this, she is obedient in the small things and for that I know that she will be rewarded greatly.

If i had it my way my mom would always stay on this earth but I grasped the sad fact a long time ago that one day God will eagerly call her home but she will not leave in vain. I will strive to live as my mother has lived, love as my mother has loved, and teach how my mother has taught me and if I only make a pin prick of an impact compared to the one my mom has made on me then I will be satisfied. If my children love me a fraction of how we love our mother then I will have lived a satisfied life. If I can really get my worldly head around the fact that serving others is really satisfying then I will tribute it to my mother and thank God that I have learned what really matters.
My mom has come a long way in here twenty one plus some years on earth but the journey has really just begun. Hopefully surgery will remove the thorn she has been carrying for twenty one years and for the remainder of the time she can do somethings she gave up in her strive for selflessness but I do know one thing, no matter where my mother goes people around here will see the Jesus this world so desperately needs. They will see the ray of hope that my mother has kept alive in her diligent quest to be faithful to God. Days like this make me thankful that there is a heaven so that people like my mother can be re payed with more than penny’s, they can hear the creator of the universe say “Well done my good and faithful servant”.
Happy Birthday Mom! I love you more than words can express!

When I was 20 I convinced my parents that I needed a puppy for “medical reasons”, they release endorphins, and after a year of promises that he would not end up living with them (which he did) I got one. When I took him home he was a tiny black puff ball that cried constantly for its mother and insisted that he slept curled around my neck. He weighed about five pounds and the breeder assured me that he took more after his cavalier father than his beagle mother and that he wouldn’t weigh more than eighteen pounds.

Today he weighs almost thirty pounds and the only resemblance he holds to a Cavalier is his coloring. I didn’t know much about beagles when I first got Aiden but later found out that they are strongly stubborn, they love to bark, and if they smell a squirrel in a five mile radius they will chase it.

When Aiden was a puppy I quickly lost my patience at his all night whining and he ended up sleeping in bed with me under the covers curled up at my feet. When I would leave for class he would stand at my door and bark until my roommates were either forced to let him into their bed or wake up and when I would come home from class I would find my room in shambles and Aiden at the top of the pile. I quickly learned he was part goat when he found a giant unopened bag of reeces cups in my room and ate them all including the wrappers. I came home from class to find the empty bag and Aiden fat and happy asleep on my bed. I called my vet in a panic who told me I just had to wait it out. Somehow amidst all of his destroying, eating, and peeing we bonded and I learned to laugh and hide all my candy. Each day home meant a new disaster and it always was the same, I walked in to destroyed plastic and candy wrappers strewn about and Aiden looked up at me and wagged his tale while he cowered on the coach and each day I yelled at him popped him on the nose and promised myself i’d hide them better next time. He never seemed to learn though, each day was a different version of the same and no matter how mad I got at him bedtime always meant he crawled under the cover and curled up at my feet. Almost a year into having Aiden I learned to stop phoning the vet when he would eat a bag of chocolate and to just punish him and move on. During his six month stay at my parents house my dad coined the phrase “mini Marley” because the movie hit a little too close to their home. He is mischievous but undeniably lovable, I’d find him with his butt sticking out from under our fence and just have to laugh because at the end of the day my love for him was greater than my need to punish his destructive habits.
One of the greatest things he does is give you “hugs” when you come home, he places one paw on each shoulder and presses his furry neck into your face while his little tale does circles. Ben often comments that Aiden seems much more excited when he gets home from work than I do. When we got married I was convinced I would not let Aiden sleep in bed with us but halfway through the night I would find him in between Ben and I with his head on my pillow. Six months in I have given up trying to make him stay on the floor. Tonight we came home and found our supply of gum and candy had been dug out of a cracked drawer and been strewn across the living room with the really good pieces missing. I popped him on the nose as he cowered in the corner trying to fake regret. I have already given in though and as I type he is nuzzled underneath my pillow in a ball (he has become adamant about his sleep in his old age).
People always say that dogs resemble their owners and as I think about Aiden I can’t help but realize for us its slightly true. If my personality was compared to a dog breed I would sadly say that I would be a beagle if for nothing else than their stubbornness. Aiden can learn the same lesson a hundred times yet he repeats the same sin again and again. It doesn’t matter how many times I pop him on the nose he does what he wants. I realized in this that God treats me a lot like I treat Aiden, popping me on the nose and then letting me go on giving him lavished hugs because he cares about me much like I care about Aiden with logic that can’t be explained. Aiden has destroyed my house and my trust and yet he continues to sleep in the bed because I know that my love for him outweighs his sin. I haven’t experienced parenthood but I imagine its much the same, sin that is followed by unconditional love. Whenever we tell stories about Aiden to our friends and his ability to get food anywhere in the house (including on top of counters) they always ask why we don’t just give him away. I always say that if you just let him hug you then you’d understand because his wagging tail is worth far more than the thirty minutes it takes me to clean up candy wrappers. I imagine God feels somewhat the same, coming behind us cleaning up the candy wrappers in our life all the while telling us its in our best interest to obey.
  • Kate - beagles love having their necks kissed because the skin is a little thinner there and they can (literally) sense the affection you give them better.. all dogs like it but for some reason..beagles like it the most!!

    love your blog..you have changed so much since the one year i was in georgia, haha..but both then and now are tindells id gladly be friends with!!ReplyCancel

Ben and I were so adamant about having a different kind of marriage, we wanted to avoid the pit falls that most married couples fell into so that we could continue our passionate love throughout marriage. We wanted to always stay in that place where everything feels great and you always have to be touching and we were convinced we could do it. We were convinced that our marriage would be different, that it would be an adventure, that people look at and wonder how you attain that kind of happiness. We decided we would wait to have kids and live our lives as one great journey together. This is how we ended up in Texas, the idea of exploring a new city far away from our parents would be a great way to keep our focus on our pinnacle marriage idea. We would find new restaurants, meet new people, and spend our nights staying up late staring into each others eyes. Sickening.. isn’t it? When we were dating we were convinced our fights stemmed from not being married and we would always conclude that when we were married it would be different.

Of course all of this was before our budget was implemented, before our dogs decided that there time alone should be spent ripping up trash, before living under one roof equaled wow I’ve never seen mold that color, before restaurants seemed to be more expensive, and before Houston really was 900 miles away from Georgia. Somewhere along the way we realized that our grand adventure wasn’t all that much fun with out friends to share it with, family to laugh with, and good guidance to help us navigate. We woke up from our day dream and realized that God never intended marriage to be a walk in the park love struck and holding hands. He meant for marriage to be hard work, sacrifice, and love that really matters when no one is watching. Marriage creates a love that can never be replicated but only after you have journeyed together to remove any and every human flaw that keeps you from God. There are days where reality is far better than the dream, days when you look at your life and get to say “I am truly blessed” but its only after the hard days that the good ones are so much sweeter. There is a loss of selfishness that you always allowed yourself but in the end you realize never really mattered. In the end you realize that the tiny memories are what really take your breath away, the jokes that always make you laugh, the sweetness of knowing you have someone to talk to about your bad day, and the moments you look around and realize you have someone who loves you unconditionally.
Recently we have come to the end of ourselves and there in lies our saving, when we realize we can only do it with God and while we never knew it would be like this it is also better than we could have imagined. Marriage is not for the faint of heart but it is for anyone who is looking to really understand Gods idea of selflessness.
  • Taylor Stanfill - Wow, that is rich…I love it! Marriage is tough but amazing. We miss you Tindy. Oh, we saw Dear John last night. If you want to travel back to the "top of the world"-"head over heels" phase I highly recommend it…ReplyCancel

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