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Tindell Baldwin »

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 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 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

I don’t remember life before my mom was sick. I can remember her first episode, as we would come to call them, my dad took us Peidmont park near the hospital and gave us Mcdonalds to ease the pain of spending Saturday in the hospital. I was about six so all I cared about was the toy in the happy meal but it would take quite a few happy meals to get through my child hood and even more visits to the hospital. The doctors deemed her first visit as dehydration and told her to go home and rest, an oxymoron for a woman with four small children. She did her best but it seemed that every time she would start to get better something else would happen and her episodes would come back, Migraines that would last for days, fevers, chills, and extreme fatigue. My childhood was filled with memories of my mother in bed and I quickly appointed myself as her full time nurse. It was all I could do that would give either of us some relief. I had memorized the grocery store isles by the time I was seventeen from all my grocery visits and I had educated my self about health in every way possible. On the really bad days when she couldn’t get out of bed I would sit with her getting new ice packs every time one would get warm. I think I thought I could cure her with Ginger Ale and aspirin. The years flew by as they always do and she spent most of them going from doctor to doctor hoping for some answers. New symptoms would come up every few months and just when they would think they were close something would add up. Each doctor seemed to have a different theory of why she was sick and each doctor was left puzzled by inconclusive test. After a few years they told her she had chronic fatigue, which has no cure and no treatment.
It seemed she would have to spend her life in this condition. Frustration could have ruled my mothers life but if you know her you know that she has strength and grace that could only come from God. She chose to make the best of her life by investing every ounce of her into our family. She attended every soccer game, baseball game, track event, and concert that she could. When I reached my teenage years and began to rebel she did everything she could to show me how much she loved me, including coaching my high school rec league soccer team of fifteen crazy girls. My mom never gave up hope that answers would come and even after a dozen failed attempts at a healthy life she never gave up. We all managed to grow up happy and healthy with a mother who never put her self first. Life seemed to follow a familiar pattern for my brothers and I all the while she was at a standstill, hoping for answers. We grew up, left home, got engaged, married, and moved away.
While our lives seemed to be just starting my moms life work was coming to a close. It was at this point that she took a turn for the worse. Her good days were far and few in between and there were even a few trips to the hospital when her pain was too much to bear. I couldn’t be the nurse my mom needed anymore and I had to learn to trust that God was with her. She was prayed over countless times by our family and church members, we trusted God knew why he had brought her here. Of all the kids I struggled the most amidst my moms illness, I couldn’t face the fact that my God might have allowed this to happen. I couldn’t believe in his holy perfect plan and watch my mom suffer day to day. In the years after high school my mom had become my best friend and watching a friend hurt is harder than dealing with your own pain. Answers were coming though, just not the answers I wanted.
She finally had a test come back positive which lead the doctors to believe that she had a tumor on her adrenal glands and when they did a CT scan it showed a growth on her left adrenal gland. Years of hurting had finally been put to rest. My mom was overjoyed that she might be able to live the life she lost almost 21 years ago. The rest of us were hoping for different answers. Even though it is most likely not cancerous the idea of a tumor is never comforting. While her battle with health might come to a close she has learned something we ofter forget. Faithfulness. My mom had not wavered in her commitment to love God even on her greatest days of pain.
My mom lives out Romans 12:12
“Be Joyful in hope, Patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.”

  • David/Laura Elmer - Tindy, I sure do miss you and will be in continual prayer for your mama. Call me if you need anything. Love you.ReplyCancel

  • Shealy - Tindell, you're a great writer- I enjoyed reading this. Romans 12:12 is so good. Thinking about and praying for your mom!ReplyCancel

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