Tindell Baldwin »

Want to know what I do at the end of most long days of raising three kids 4 and under? I sit down with a glass of wine (yes, wine)  and run through how I failed them. I replay the good and sometimes leave the bad on repeat and tell myself I’ll do better next time. I sit down with my husband bone tired and we wonder if we are doing enough. Are we raising kids who will become adults who will one day add good to the world? It causes deep angst because this my job but unlike a job there is no formula. There is no progress report. Parenting is often one step forward and two toddler steps back. It’s almost too much to bear and I stay up late at night wondering if I’m too hard on my daughter, too lenient on my son, or if I’m missing it all with our angel baby of a third child.

My striving exhausts me and I end up praying God will forgive me for failing at such an important task. Because this is important. Then I remember how God loved us, how what was most monumental about his time on earth was how well he loved the people in the middle of this mess we call life and then he died so we might all be clean enough to stand before God. He hung on that cross and told us there was no line now, no distance we could run, no scale we could tip that would push us out of his grace. That seems unfair, too easy, but we don’t want fair we want grace and the two can’t live in the same land.

Then as clear as day I know what my kids need, more than clean clothes and perfectly healthy meals (because lets be real that’s a pipe dream at this point anyway) they need to know I choose them. They need to know that there’s no line that they can cross that will cost them a relationship with me.

Ben and I decided long ago, maybe a month after Claire was born, that there was nothing our kids could do that would cost them us. We choose them. That’s what our kids need. They need to know that the line doesn’t exist because choosing them doesn’t mean we don’t also choose God. Our culture is an alluring mess full of temptations so decide now, while they are still toddling around in diapers and drooling out “MAMA” what you will choose. Decide now because you don’t know what lies ahead. Decide now and prepare them for the world. Equip them, teach them, and encourage them but when they get too old to hold please have already made up your mind that you will love them no matter what they come home and tell you.

Gay. Abortion. Alcoholic. Drugs. Sleeping around. Dropping out. Moving out. Atheist. The list could go on.

Or maybe it’s just something little like you always dreamed of playing football with your son and he likes singing.  Maybe your daughter love princesses and you wanted her to play softball. Maybe you had dreams and they may seem silly to some but when your child turned another way it crushed you.

Decide now. Decide what will die, your dreams or your relationship with the son or daughter God gave you.

Decide, do you have higher standards than Jesus?

To the woman at the well Jesus said come to me and have life. (John 4)

To the tax collector in the tree, come eat dinner with me. (Luke 19)

To the adulterer king, I will birth Gods son through your lineage. (2 Samuel 7:16)

To the prostitute, let me give you a future. (Joshua 2)

You know what our kids need, a home that tells them they are loved. Parents that say, if God forgives you then of course I do too. Here’s what they really need, more than great educations and wonderful sports programs and the latest and greatest toys and clothes. To believe that they are loveable no matter what quirk you or the world says they have.

Here’s the best part about the God who saved my wreck of a life at 19, he never asks us to choose him or people, when he died for us he choose all people. When I came home you know who was waiting, my family. The people who had every reason to turn their back on me were miraculously the ones who never left and nothing besides the blood of Jesus has changed me more than that love. Somehow though in the middle of intense political tensions Christians have forgotten that to convey truth we don’t have to withhold love. If sin wasn’t a good enough reason to keep Jesus from me then it certainly isn’t a good enough reason to keep me from my kids.

Do I have dreams for my kids? Of course. Do I want them to take the path less traveled toward a God who loves them? Always. Will they know my heart when sin entangles them? Without a doubt. More importantly though, they will know that my door stands open, prayers will be lifted on their behalf, and I will believe God can rescue them even when they don’t think they need to be rescued. I will be waiting, not when they clean up their life but when they come home covered in filth. I will be waiting to be the kind of love I know this world will never show them.

Truth and love can live in the same home. Sin will cost the ones we love a lot but it should never cost them a relationship with us.

Romans 13:8

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

“What do you do to ensure your kids have a deep relationship with God?” she asked her and we all sat on pins and needles because as Christian parents this is what we want. We want to ensure our kids flourish in their growth with God and we will buy cute scripture cards, pretty bibles, and any book that mentions Jesus to get it. It has pretty much been my standard question to any mom who has kids who are older and love Jesus. Give me the formula I ask. I want fire insurance (get it).

To be completely frank (because you’re on the other side of the screen and I can’t see you) sometimes I just want the behavior by products that come with Christianity. I don’t want them to drink or do drugs or sleep around. So, I want them to be Christians because, when I was younger the good Christian kids didn’t do that. I want results. I want protection. I want to hold on to their innocence more than I want world peace sometimes. Christianity seems to do this. I can throw verses and conviction at all that stuff. I can bible beat them into behaving just the way I want.

But where does that leave their heart?

If performance is what I teach them about Christianity then what will they do when their pride grows large and they look down on Susie sleeps around? If behavior modification is all I am after then I don’t really need Jesus. I can take away enough stuff to make bad decisions hurt but I can’t make their heart ache when they do the wrong thing. What do I want more than all the right answers? A heart humbly turned towards a God who can save them. What’s more important than knowing how to act the right way is for them love the right way. I want them to be changed because of what they know not just perform well because they know how to play a part. I want life change not simply behavior change.

So what was her answer? With 7 eager moms looking on, “oh honey you got to let that go, that’s between them and God.” Not exactly what we were hoping for. She went on to say that modeling a relationship with God was far more effective than simply telling them about God.

For the longest time I thought I had to be Jesus to my kids and every time I screwed up I scolded myself for failing them and God. Then it was almost like the heavens parted and God spoke to me (not really but it felt that monumental) “you aren’t Jesus.” I know this should not have been new to me but sometimes we simply swallow information and forget to weed out the lies and somewhere along the way I thought I had to be Jesus. I don’t though. I’m miserable at it. However, I can model an authentic relationship with Jesus which is much more appealing anyway. Who wants to come to the mom who seems perfect and confess they are struggling with…. (fill in your favorite sin)? Instead I think we will make God far more accessible if they see us struggle through a relationship with him, asking forgiveness all along the way when we fall short.

Let’s ask for grace alongside them. Pray alongside them. Beg for forgiveness alongside them. We do not need God any less just because we are farther down the path.

Psalms 78:4

We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders.

God is wondrous. Let’s not diminish all that he is in the hopes of behavior change. It’s wonderful but it’s a byproduct of a God who is greater than earthly pleasure. Let’s tell great stories alongside our kids about a God who placed the stars in the sky and still cares greatly about their tiny hearts. Let’s pray without fear that God would do whatever it takes to draw them into his story.

  • Stacy parker - Tindall : thank you for the incredible reminder that I can’t make my children love and want to put Jesus at the center of their lives only He can! I was reminded that I do have an incredible job that the lord wants me to do… Live him out in the day to day! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your blog! I’m a mom of 4 and this is the desire of my heart. It’s a challenge that has frustrated and discouraged me over the years as I’ve watched my children many a time walk a different path. Your message has given me a renewed hope. God bless you.ReplyCancel

A letter to the mean girls,

I see you. I know you. I was you. I know that insecurity is deep and if you hurt others then you hurt less. I know you think if you stay in charge you get to decide who could possibly wound you. I know you think that mean and strong are synonymous. I know you worry someone else will take your place in the precious social circle that you think gives your life. I know you are scared.

In middle school I was scared of you. In high school I became one of you. In college I ran from you. And now here I am raising two girls and praying they don’t become one of you. Then today my precious little four year old tells me a girl told her she couldn’t be her friend today and that her favorite color couldn’t be pink anymore because it was already that other girls. And she cried. And I held her. And I cried too. Quietly, so she wouldn’t know. I wept because the road ahead is hard and her tender heart will be battered and bruised along the way no matter how much I protect her. I cried for you because the world is mean and you are kind. I cried because anger and hate seem to scream at us from every angle. Take control they scream, be meaner than the meanest girl and you can be safe.

It isn’t true though.

My girl,

Be you, be the kind girl who turns her back and walks away when the world is cruel. Walk to the people who love you, get comfort and truth, and walk back into the world and be the light it needs.  Don’t run and hide, make a difference by being different. There is always another hurting person who needs love so when the world of girls are cruel then find another person who needs a friend.

You will be tempted to join in, because it easier to be a mocker than to be mocked. It is easier to throw insults than to absorb them. It is easier to join the fight than it is to stand alone. Don’t give in. Don’t believe the lies that feeling good at others expense is anything but downright evil. Hate doesn’t solve hate and anger only feeds anger. Feed anger with kindness and it wilts. You my girl, can do this. You are already kinder than most of the world.

Be the salve this world needs. Stand up for the oppressed. Care more about others than yourself. Let Gods love for you infect the way you treat other people.

I don’t care how you do in school as long as you do your best. I don’t care how your perform in sports or on stages, as long as you follow your God given gifts, and I don’t care if you have a big group of friends or just one good one.

However, I do care that you treat others with kindness. I care that you love those who seem unlovable. I care that you bring joy to others and not sorrow. I care that you don’t whisper lies or look down on people because they are different. I care that you see your need for God just like the next girl. So my dearly loved daughter, you can always come to me. I’ll rub your back and tell you I love you until you don’t need me to anymore. I’ll encourage you to keep going when the hurt is raw and you want to give up. We can face the mean together and come out the other side. You are never alone, and your favorite color can be whatever the hell you want it to be.

  • Beth Brown - You are wise and a beautiful wordsmith! Keep using your gifts: of being great Momma and exceptional writer. Exceptional and real!ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Thank you so much! What a kind complimentReplyCancel

  • Mandi - These are wise and well-written letters. I especially love the one to “my girl”. Mean girls have been a difficult part of this school year for my sweet 13 year old, so this hits home for us. May I use your letter to pass on to her?ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Of course! Thats what it is there for!ReplyCancel

  • Taylor Stanfill - So so good but also hard. It breaks your heart to think what they will go through as they grow up. But thank Jesus He has them in his hands.ReplyCancel

Right now I need one of those good pep talks, you know the kind that reminds you that the housework isn’t as important as your kids heart or that you will indeed sleep again. I wish 40 year old me could come back and tell myself I survive, that motherhood of three did not in fact take me down. I wish I could be like George Baily or whoever that guy is in it’s a wonderful life and see all that I have instead of the exhaustion I feel. Because what I feel like is the big bad wolf, huffing and puffing and blowing all the joy out of my kid’s childhood. I feel like the monster in yoga pants who breaks up games that my 2 and 3 year old deem perfectly acceptable but I see it as our first trip to the ER. I need 40 year old me to let me know we made it out of this hard season and my kids do in fact still love me and I did eventually find the time to shower and fit back into my jeans.

The truth is sometimes motherhood feels like drowning and the things taking you down are somewhat ridiculous, like the sheer mountains of laundry, or the exhaustion that settles into your bones, or the constant fear that you are missing moments to teach your kids the really important things about faith and life because of said laundry and the exhaustion.

Then today I was walking into preschool and I see a mom pull up to the curb, a middle school girl hops out throws her long hair back, puts her back pack on and hurries away, a flurry of converse shoes and eye rolls. Her mom is yelling after her, “you can do it babe, be strong, I’m proud of you.” I see her laugh a little, I don’t even think she heard the last part before she made it through the door. I look down at the two tiny hands clutching the stroller and the tiny baby asleep inside it and a pang of guilt hits me. How I have wished for that freedom, the drop them off at the curb kind of freedom? The shopping uninterrupted kind of freedom. The have coffee with a friend just cause its Wednesday kind of freedom. I have been dreaming of the days when Ben I can walk the neighborhood without a stroller, talk without a toddler climbing us like a jungle gym, or spend the better part of my day doing anything besides cleaning up plastic toys.

That’s not where we are though and I think the pep talk that 40 year old me would say over a large Starbucks dark roast (or maybe I drink tea at this point because I don’t need an IV drip of strong coffee to survive) is this.

Today they need you… today they need to ask 1000 questions about why trees are green and why babies cry. Today they need you to hold their hand when they cross the street and sing them songs when they are scared. Today they need you to cut their sandwiches in triangles and wipe their snotty noses and play silly games. Today they need you to let them be little. Today they need you to snuggle for an extra minute and pray for their stuffed cat and pretend they are a princess. Today they need you to dry their tears when they fall and rub their back when they are sleepy and put band aids on boo boos that don’t really exist. Today they need you to let them be little.

Because the truth is we can’t outrun the clock and each day they are one step closer to not needing my hand or wanting my full attention… and I’ll miss it. So the pep talk I really need is simply this… don’t miss it, lean in, and learn to love it.

One day I’ll be that mom in the drop off line and they will bound out the door and hardly listen as I yell my encouragement after them. One day they will roll their eyes when I answer questions and close their door when I want to be let in. One day they will cry over broken hearts and harsh words instead of a skinned knee.  The freedom will roll in strong and blow away these little years and I’ll wish I hadn’t worried so much about the state of my bathroom or the cleanliness of my kitchen. One day I’ll be looking longingly at an exhausted mom in line at target with three small kids and turn to Ben and say “weren’t those the days.”

Yes they are hard, exhausting, and draining but most of our problems are as pint sized as their little bodies. I know where everyone is at 9pm every night. My son’s belly laughs could grow even the Grinch’s tiny heart. My daughter’s imagination always astonishes and there’s nothing better than the ear piercing squeal we hear around 5:30 when dad walks into the door. There is always joy to be found when you are willing to look. So I will seek it out when my body wants to quit and I don’t know what’s for dinner and if one more person says mom I might explode.  I will listen to my baby girl coo and wonder if I am closer to the breath of God than I’ll ever be in my whole life. I’ll forgo to do lists for laying on the floor with my girls and trying to get Colbie to laugh. I’ll skip the shower and put my hair in a ponytail so I can make them pancakes just because the sheer joy on their face when it’s not another morning of oatmeal. I will lean into the hard days and let it grow me and mold me, knowing that hard is the marinade in the making of motherhood. I will not breeze by questions that are the gentle knocks of God on my impressionable daughter’s heart. I will tell myself I am doing the best I can and I will believe it. I will read one more book when I want to shut the door. I will lay in bed with them one extra minute when I want to be done and at the end of the day I will look over pictures and videos and marvel at how much has changed.

Then 40 year old me will smile over her decaf tea and say… and they all lived happily ever after.

Proverbs 14:1 

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. 

  • K W - I needed this more than you will ever know! Reading this has tears streaming down my face bc I do feel like I am drowning! Thank you so much for the perspective change and the pep talk I need to hear!ReplyCancel

  • Sal - So good!!! You are doing a great work and cannot come down! I’m so proud of you!ReplyCancel

I’m sure no one can relate to this but I tend to fall into a black hole when I have a newborn. I teeter on the edge until about six weeks when the sleep deprivation wears me down and I thought things would be easier but the end is nowhere in sight. I fall down into the black hole almost willingly, I let the weight of every ones wants, needs, and expectations land heavy on me and I stop trying to fight the lies that I can’t do this. Knowing my tendency to sink into this black hole, I vowed the third time around would be different. I decided from the start I’d get more help, let housework go, and just accept that life was hard for this season. I decided not to fight the hard and just let it settle in like a marinade that was just part of the making of motherhood.

I decided early on I would do two things. 1. I would count the little wins. Like when Colbie slept a 6 hour stretch…win. When Briggs didn’t poke Colbie’s eye out when he was trying to jam the paci in her mouth…win. When Claire played sweetly with her brother…Win. When Netflix added another season of bubble guppies…TRIPLE WIN. I would count the little wins and let the little loses go. Secondly, I would remind myself every day that we were one step closer to things being easier. I would trek on, one bedtime at a time.

My vow to make the third time around different didn’t take into account the very real emotions that take over after giving birth and the unforeseen health problem with Claire that left us with a lot of questions and having to patiently wait for answers. Then the six weeks hit and I was diving into the darkness myself, tears flowing and wondering if it would ever get easier.

With Briggs when the darkness hit I had a lot of people tell me God was walking with me in the sleepless nights, sickness, and marital spats that come with overwhelmdom. I laughed. I really believed God had bigger priorities that my petty sleeplessness and roller coaster of hormones. After all newborns are a gift, children are a gift, why would God listen or care that I was overwhelmed by responsibilities and underwhelmed by life? I just couldn’t believe he cared and my constant inability to handle the life that I had created left me feeling like a failure in both the eyes of God and onlookers.

This time though I thought, what if he did care? What if he wanted to hear my battles and fears no matter how small? What if he wasn’t mocking my inability but patiently waiting for me to come to him with all of it? So I just prayed and asked for encouragement because I’ve done this enough to know that you can’t change circumstances but you can keep going simply by being told you can. Soon I was on the phone with an older mom who had a similar health issue with her youngest daughter who is now grown. It didn’t mean Claire would have the same journey but it gave me hope that it could be far better than we were expecting which is all we can really cling to when the unknown lingers ahead. I had family loving on us, my sisters praying, my mom checking in, in-laws helping with the kids and I realized it was God’s hands reaching down to pull me up.

So what if God had cared all along? What if my cynicism had deflected his invitation to come to him? What if I had missed the opportunity to experience God like never before simply because I assumed he didn’t care? As all this sank in Claire came to me upset about something disappointing her little heart. It was small in comparison to the breadth of my world but of course I turned to her and listened intently. As I held her close I was struck by my love for her even in the small things. Over the past four years God has often used my response to my kids to teach me more about his response to me. I could almost hear God say, if you don’t turn her away why would I turn you away? I care for you like you care for her. I knew it was true, like you know grass is green and the sky is blue. In my worst days I don’t turn my back on my kids when they come to me for comfort. Do I indulge every emotion or treat every little incident like it’s the end of their world? No, but I always do my best to help them through it even if that means helping them see that it’s going to be OK.

So I decided to believe that God cared, that he was walking with me through sleepless nights and unknown outcomes. I decided to take him at his word and simply ask for him to keep picking me up when the darkness felt like it would overtake my heart.

Psalms 55:22

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

  • Amanda Sumrall - Thanks, Tindell. I think at some point someone led me to believe God wasn’t concerned with our petty problems. We are just ants in perspective. It’s nice to think God cares even when we make our problems seem insignificant. Our life is made up of the small things. If we spend too much time on the big moments, we miss life. I am thinking about having another baby, and it will be my third as well. I’ve heard so many things about having another one, but it’s good to have another mama sharing her moments and places where God is there and cares. Again, thanks!ReplyCancel

My kids are still asleep on this quiet morning and as I read my devotional, drink my coffee, and look at my house cluttered with toys I wonder why I cannot just be content? It’s a beautiful mess, in all the truest senses, the clutter, the toys, the artwork drawn by tiny hands, and yet something inside me tells me I need more. It’s the voice that begs me to feed my ego and compares my list of accomplishments with my favorite authors. It’s the voice that reminds me each June just how many years have passed since I put a book on the shelf. It’s the voice that shames me every time I walk by my computer and there aren’t another 500 words hammered out on fake paper.

There is another voice though, the one that confidently tells me “this is it” when I’m sitting on the floor doing puzzles and reading with my kids. The voice that whispers “this doesn’t matter” when I am rushing my kids out the door and barking because we are 5 minutes late for something. There is a voice in the night that reminds me that my salvation is worked out through fear and trembling not a list of accomplishments. (We insomniacs hear best at night)

It would be so much easier to have the stuff though. To have the accolades and progress reports and I beg of God, can’t I just have it all? I know my heart is in the wrong place though, my desires are jacked up by selfish ambition and a desire to prove my worth.tbell

My 3 and ½ year old, Claire, is into everything princess and fairy. It’s terrifying. Being raised in a house with three brothers this phenomenon is a whole new terrain for me. It must be princess everything, songs, dresses, shoes, right down to her underwear. She’s committed I’ll give her that. However since most of the Disney movies involve some horrifying witch or parent death we have landed on the tinker bell movies and a heavy dose of frozen to get us through the obsession.

Tinkerbell has taught me a lot though (they say God works in mysterious ways) as a fairy she is assigned a talent based on what she is good at. She is a tinker, which means she builds (go with me here) it’s pretty unglamorous.. Imagine engineer but without the cool pocket protectors. She fights against her talent because she wants a fancy one like her friends. She wants to make flowers grow or teach baby birds to fly, she wants to control the wind, or harness the light for the fireflies but she is left in the tinker hole creating baskets and coming up with trinkets. She tries all her friends’ talents thinking surely she got hers wrong and she’s awful at them. Then she stumbles back to her own dejected and frustrated. Spoiler alert though she saves spring and realizes her talent is awesome.  I watched with Claire and couldn’t help but feel complete empathy with Tinkerbell (yes you read that right).

I want a prettier talent. I want my mission field to be out of my home and in the world, and it is sometimes, but the majority of my time and my love is spent inside this home on these little people and one big man. What I really want though, and what Tink (thats her nickname) wanted too, it to be seen and noticed and praised for a beautiful gift instead of being behind the scenes tinkering away. As a mom you are a tinker, working behind the scenes making everything work often unnoticed and underappreciated.  So sometimes I want a glittery calling, one that puts me in board rooms and meetings and gives me bonuses that tell me I’m awesome. I picture working life to be more like netflix than real life, I know this illusion would fail me. However, I have a toddler who stumbles downstairs every morning and tells me oatmeal is cold and she doesn’t like what I have planned so my illusions whisper the lies my heart wants to hear.

The thing is though,  I don’t want to be the woman I was before I had my kids. I have learned more in my almost four years of trekking through motherhood than I did in almost 25 years of life. God has grown me in ways that I never imagined possible. I am more humble, kinder, and gentler (still have a ways to go but I have time) than I ever was before kids. I also realize how little I know and I how much I need God. Like every day I need him. The glittery wears off, the shine of worldly pleasures fade, but nothing compares to being faithful in the journey God has called you to. 

I was having this same conversation with a friend recently and she pointed me to Present over Perfect by Shauna Nyquist and I was caught by this profound truth, “It’s easier to be impressive to strangers that it is to be consistently kind behind the scenes. Sometimes, brave looks boring, and that totally, absolutely, okay.” Its brave to say this is all I can handle right now and to hell with what the world tells me. Its brave to say I have just enough and don’t need more. Dare I say it’s brave to be utterly content when you’ve done nothing else but feed little mouths, nurture little souls, and pushed tiny bodies for hours on the swing? Maybe this is my best work. Maybe it’s the best story I’ll ever write, and just maybe I will realize it wasn’t actually boring at all… it was really brave.

  • Katie Bulmer - I love your writting Tindell! I’m so glad to connect. Yes we truly do have similar stories. I even grew up in Atlanta too! I’m sure we have friends in common. I am so thankful both of our hearts are now to help young women avoid the mistakes we made.

    I have heard such great things about your book. I’m working on my first one now! woo hoo!ReplyCancel

The light in the closet is out, I muttered to him while getting ready for bed. It’s really my most glorious time of the day, I’m exhausted, my belly is huge, and everything hurts from the growing human inside me. I’m a downright joy to be around (not). I don’t even know if he heard me because I complained about how many times I pee at night immediately following my light complaint.

Then tonight as I went to go to bathroom for the 17th time I flipped on the closer switch on by habit and realized the light came on. Ben was already peacefully asleep (one of our many differences) and I smiled and couldn’t help but think this was what 7 years was.

At year one you want elaborate dinners and flowers for no reason (ok I still want that sometimes) but you think that is love, grandiose gestures. You think love is purchased or proved by things and tripsceremony-18.

Years 2-4 you’re working through all the hiccups year one brought, fighting styles, communication differences, expectations that went unmet but you’re also still newlyweds. You take fun trips, explore new cities, and treat your dogs like they are children instead of pets. You find couple friends and do activities that start at 10pm, something that you never realize will be a thing of the past once you have children.

By year 4 you have your first baby and it’s all new again. The love for your family, the emotional highs of love for your spouse and this new little one. Everything has a shiny new edge on it. Holidays are a little more special. Family pictures now have a baby instead of a dog. Trips become less and dates become the survival food you feed your marriage. It has its challenges and in a way you have to learn how to be yourselves again once this person has joined your home but you work through it, fight through it, and laugh when it all seems so hard yet beautiful.IMG_2404 - Version 2

5-7 you continue to add on. In our case two more kids and settle into a rhythm of chaos. Happy hour is now the time you sit on the porch after all the kids have gone to bed and wonder if you’ll ever get to sleep through the night and how you will pay for college. You work through parenting differences and money qualms. Even less trips but when you get to leave for a few glorious days you act like teenagers who just got released from parental supervision. You laugh out of sleep deprivation and pure ridiculous of what your life is now. You reminisce about the days of freedom but know you wouldn’t take them back. You wonder why you didn’t accomplish all your dreams while it was only the two of you. You stare at the clock begging for it to be the kid’s bedtime only to look at pictures of them and laugh at whatever funny thing they did or said that day. Each day is a little bit like hitting repeat but before you know it a year has passed and you have another full set of memories. Life isn’t slowing down so you learn to enjoy the ride and slip in the occasional weekend away to recharge and remember where you were steering this boat in the first place.

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Then year 7 hits. This dreaded year that has been deemed “the breaking point of marriages.” You look at it square on the laugh because you feel the same love about a light bulb being changed than you did about the flowers a few years ago. You laugh at the 7 year struggle because you can see how truly lucky you are.

In year one you said you were lucky because you were married and you checked all the boxes but by year seven its love that’s seen counseling rooms, doctors’ offices, and delivery rooms. It’s the love that’s held you hand for your first baby and wept tears of joy as you brought a tiny person into your life. It’s a love that’s weathered stomach bugs and fights about laundry and eye rolls and nagging and the real every day. It’s the love that grabs the kids in bear hugs and tells you to sit down and relax when you’ve almost reached the breaking point. It’s the love that’s on your side when the world around you feels like its crumbling. Is the love that holds you close and tells you that it believes in you when you are scared of failing. It’s the love that’s walked a crying newborn around for countless hours in the dark so you can sleep. It’s the arms you’ve wept in when life truly disappointed. It’s the love that has sat in front rows and cheered you on. It’s real. It’s messy. It’s respected and deep. It’s real.

It’s that simple profound servant love that Jesus told us we would need in marriage. It’s the love that changed the light bulb, a thousand diapers, and promises to hold your hand through whatever comes next.

So bring it on 7 years. Do your worst.

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  • Ashley Zobrosky - Love this and can totally relate… Just celebrated 7 years of marriage in June!ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Congrats! Year 7 will start off with a bang for us but hopefully slows down after baby comes 🙂ReplyCancel

I told Claire recently that I had three brothers and she looked at me wide eyed and said “wow mom that’s kinda crazy.” It was crazy but also so fun. Partly because of how different and yet similar we all were. Kristian the kind dreamer, Taylor the disciplined fun loving athlete, me… well lets not go there, and Brett the sweet complaint gift to my parents. We all just worked, sure we fought and sure every year my mom asked for the thing for mother’s day, just one day where we didn’t all fight. But mostly we just really respected each other. I looked up to all my brothers (even though Brett is technically younger). The greatest part is over the years we became true friends.

Taylor and I were closest in age and the most likely to get into trouble (although Kristian and Taylor had a few brilliant ideas… like shooting100_0031each other with BB guns at my grandparent’s house) , only two grades apart and barely two years. We were in school together most of the time and I always admired his ability with people and his downright commitment to whatever he was doing. We are still so opposite, I dream big but have a hard time putting my words to actions while Taylor just commits and runs full force into it.  While Taylor didn’t end up employed by a church or on a stage
he has a ministry of his own in his financial planning career, in his love for each and every neighbor, and in his serving his friends and family with love, grace and commitment. I’ve never met anyone that can be the same after truly knowing Taylor. Some people just change you for the better.

Almost three years ago Taylor and Sally came to the family and told us that they had decided to adopt. It’s something that had been growing in Sally’s heart for a while but Taylor was unsure then one morning he heard God ask him, “did I delay in adopting you.” Beautiful. They are currently adopting internationally and after many circumstances and law changes in other countries they have settled on China. It’s been a beautiful experience to watch them pursue Gods next step through for their family. There has been a decent amount of heart ache mixed in with the joy as the process has unfolded but their unwavering faithfulness to what God has called them has been inspiring to say the least.

This weekend is Taylor’s birthday and along with his many other God given gifts Taylor is a runnerehearsal-129r. He ran the Boston last year at a pace that I couldn’t even keep on a quarter mile run to the donut shop and for his birthday he has decided to run 32 miles (one for each year).  His run is to raise awareness for their adoption and also to invite people into their journey. Its very unofficial and fun and really an invitation to be a part of their child’s journey home.

You can find out more here

https://www.purecharity.com/stanfill-family-adoption-1/updates

I couldn’t be prouder of my brother. I couldn’t be more eager to support them (from the sidelines luckily 37 weeks pregnant gets you out of running… ben however didn’t get so lucky) and I couldn’t be more excited to watch this journey unfold. We are living in a time when the darkness feels overwhelming, there is still light though. There are still people doing good and loving others well.

Thank you Taylor for always inspiring me to be a better lover of people. Thank you for loving me so well no matter where I was on my walk with God and mostly thank you for being obedient to God and letting us be a part of your journey.  We can’t wait to meet the newest cousin!

PS if you are feeling like less of a person after reading all of that scan some of my other posts, my brothers awesome but I’ve done my fair share of screwing up 😉

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