Tindell Baldwin »

“Fear is very much a story we tell ourselves, so I choose to tell myself another story”

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

On our way home from a recent beach trip Ben and I were reliving the glory days of our dating life in college. In other words we were laughing about how ridiculous we were in both love and everything else. I had sudden flash backs of my former crazy self. It all started because I asked Ben why he had broken up with a previous girlfriend and his response was “I think she was a little clingy or something” (men are super descriptive).

This made me burst out in laughter because clingy is a step up from the kind of crazy I was when we were dating. Before Ben I had been in a series of ugly relationships were both parties were severely selfish and I ended up with a busted heart and a little crazy in the brain. Then I met Ben who was both perfect and way out of my reach (don’t you love how family will always tell you the truth) and I laughed at the idea that I had experienced real love before him. I knew he was the illusive “one” BUT instead of being excited about finding an amazing man who loved me I was terrified I might lose him. So what do fearful girls do the boy they desperately love and fear losing more than life itself? We cling tighter, thus suffocating our significant other in an attempt to maintain control.

I took crazy to a whole new level when we were dating but managed to mask it well enough to get him to marry me. (Your welcome babe) I used to sit up at night waiting for him to call and if he hadn’t called by a certain time I would come up with elaborate stories of how he had either died or left me for Jessica Biel because those were the only two options when you are hoped up on both love and fear.

fearFear is much like a pet, it starts out cute and manageable but the more you feed it the bigger it gets, and the bigger it gets the more it hinders daily life. Slowly it makes you see things that aren’t there, it makes you worry about things you have no business worrying about, and it owns a little part of your soul. Fear is no friend, it is no pet, and fear is the enemy of living a full life. Fear hinders it does not protect, it consumes it does not set you free, and it overrides wisdom with its intense emotion and heart quickening whispers.

We cannot control the onset of the emotion but we can control how much it devours of our life. We can starve fear with truth. We uproot it from our life when we combat it with the wisdom of what we know to be true.  Fully knowing my husband now I know that if he forgets to call its cause he hates the phone and it turns out Jessica Biel has never even visited his engineering firm. I also know he loves me and is a loyal husband and father to our kids. I know him, so when fear creeps in I replay the tape of truth instead of coming up with a story of fear.

I also know that God is a good father and trustworthy with my heart so even when I am not OK I will be OK. I think my fear in dating was part not knowing Ben’s full character part not believing God wanted good things for me. This is why I tell girls not to date guys they wouldn’t want to marry because your heart can be tattered before it is ever broken. I took all my brokenness and projected it on Ben and then begged him to prove me wrong.

The flip side of the fear was that I was not believing God had good things in store for me, I thought God wouldn’t give me a man like Ben because I knew the kind of woman I had been. I thought God wanted to punish me not bless me. Why would God bless someone who had run from him for so long? Because he loved me and he never gives us what we deserve. He gives us grace, mercy, redemption, and a chance to start new.

The lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Psalms 118:6

You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. Proverbs 34:11

Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1-3

I understand now that there are real fears that are crippling, much more significant than a breakup. I have kids, I have had scary dr. apts, and phone calls that dropped me to my knees. But I also know fear never prepares you for the unexpected, it doesn’t aid in your faith,  and it doesn’t help you when real gut wrenching heart ache enter your world. Fear is simply hoping we can control the outcome of a very terrifying world. We can’t. We can’t control people and we can rarely really control life. We have to trust and choose to pour truth over fears lies, and we must believe God is good even when life is not.

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As mother day approaches I think about all the seasons I have been in as a mother. New mother, newborn, toddler, mom of two, exhausted and blissful, tired and angry, a little bitter, and greatly overjoyed. As soon as I got the hang of one I would instantly be thrown into a new emotion, a new season, and wonder if I was thriving or just simply surviving. At some point in each hard season I would try to hurry to the next.

We are about to enter into yet another new season, another season of hard and exhausting and while I know there is light at the end of the tunnel there will be no way around the hard. No way around the sleepless nights and hormonal ups and downs, no way around the crying and the straight up fear that comes with having a newborn. No way around the utter joy and yet very real challenge of having three kids ages 3 to 0. Sometimes there is just no way around.

When we were on car trips as kid my mom had this camp song she would sing with us to pass the time. We would pat our hands on our knees one hand at a time so it sounded like walking and say “going on a bear hunt… oh there is a lake, can’t go around it, can’t go over it, got to go through it.” This went on for what seemed like hours (doesn’t everything feel that way as a kid) with all different scenarios where you had to go through the challenge for this bear hunt (we were a super cool family). I have been thinking about that silly song as I think about motherhood.bear

Sometimes you just have to go through it. The good the bad and the ugly. The challenges, the joys, and the unknown. Don’t blink or you will miss it, don’t wish it away or you will regret it, and if you enjoy it all see your nearest psychiatrist (kidding). I am very much on my bear hunt and every day seems to have a different challenge in store for us that I must go through.

However none of my diaper drama seems to compare to all the mothers in a season of loss, where mother’s day might be sweet but also have a twinge of real pain. I have asked God many times why mothers must ever go through the pain of losing a child. It seems senseless, unfair, and just plain cruel.

Our community is currently reeling from a tragic car accident at UGA that killed four young girls. I am thinking about the hunt their mothers are on, a tearful journey to find peace in the midst of unbearable pain. The process of going through the bear hunt without one of your cubs. If only motherhood came with guarantees of healthy babies and days that looked more like those diaper commercials. It never seems to be that way. Motherhood seems to be a process of going through season after season where we are refined into the woman God needs us to be. At a vigil for these young women the mom of one of the girls said she was of course in terrible pain but still believed God was a good father. Wow. That is a voice of a mother refined by fire. Sometimes the only guarantee that we can cling to is that God offers hope in the darkest of days. Even when our seasons are terrible he is still good.

My sister in law said recently said she’s so glad she’s not the woman she was before she had kids and I couldn’t agree more. This hunt of mine has lead me through so many challenges that has refined my soul. I’ve needed each season. There is no greater teacher than selfless servanthood.

So no matter the season, press on, go through it. Find that bear, and lean into our Good Good father when the journey seems too much.

 

  • anna Etheriedge - …If you have contact, please tell that momma that our daughter has been greatly impacted by the tragedy at UGA, getting caught up accidentally in the crowd at Tate Hall. Some much needed questions have finally been asked and God has been using that very situation of death to bring “new life.”
    BTW loved your blog. 3 wasn’t bad (even 3 and under)… until I got pregnant again 🙂 After that, nothing phases you!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Semeria - Hi, I’m that mom. You don’t know me, but…. 🙂 I came across your blog and know your brother Kristian from Passion. My daughter Christina went and heard you speak at UGA and bought your book and told me how much you touched her with sharing your life. She loved your authentic and vulnerable style. I love how you love others and how you are helping others in their shame and darkness to come into the light and know they aren’t alone. I don’t think I’ve ever written a message to someone that I don’t know, but I felt compelled and moved by the Holy Spirit to share some of my story to bless you. My “beautifully broken” story. I’m a Mom of 4 beautiful children. Two boys and two girls. My youngest 19 year old daughter Christina “Tini” Semeria was one of the 4 UGA girls that was killed in a car accident on April 27th, 2016 after praying off campus before their finals. The accident happened around 8:45 @ dusk and they weren’t speeding, texting or drinking. They were filled with joy and laughter as Tini and her 3 best friends went to be with Jesus together hand in hand that night. Tini’s heartbeat was to reach the least the lost, the last and the hopeless. She is a worship leader, a singer and a songwriter. She was bold and fearless with her faith. She wanted everyone to know Jesus. She was an AXO Sister and an active member of UGA Heroes. I believe the Lord has prompted me to share this with you to share Tini’s song that she wrote, is singing and playing the guitar. The song is called “Be Still” and she wrote it in July 2015 while serving on Summer Staff at Young Life’s Trail West Camp in Colorado. I hope this song will minister to you as it has to over 50,000 and more the past 8 months. I’ve also included her blog that she had just put together called A Stirring Heart and a blog post called Spark in the Dark. I believe that you are that spark in the dark that Tini writes about. Keep sharing your heart, you are indeed showing hope, love and HIS light to others. I know the Lord has called me to write a book and one day when I can think again I believe the Lord will show me how to do that. I’m praying for you. Can I ask you to pray for me and my family? I miss my sweet girl so much. I believe she would LOVE you and I hope that one day we can sit and have coffee and share stories. I go to Passion City and spoke at the December Grove 2 nights on hope and help from heaven. I’m leaning in and have a tight grip on God’s hand trusting that He will hold me tight and never leave me. God Bless you.
    https://m.soundcloud.com/christina-semeria/be-still
    https://christinasemeria.wordpress.com/about/ReplyCancel

    • Anna Etheriedge - Cathy, my daughter, Sarah 22, was so very touched by the events at UGA surrounding your daughter’s death. She has since had a huge change of heart and path… an awakening of her soul. I loved your comment and wondered if I might share it on my blog and your daughter’s beautiful song. I really love it! What a testimony and amazing voice she sings with. My email is ace@etheriedge.com and my blog is “ForGlorySake!” etheriedge.wordpress.com. Thank you for sharing this comment, AnnaReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Cathy,

      Forgive me for not getting to your heart felt comment sooner. I ache for you. I cannot imagine all you have struggled through in the past months. What you have lived through I shudder to think about. When I first got saw your comment I was rocking a crying baby at 3am and felt the lord tell me not to take for granted any moment. What a gift it is to know she loved Jesus. I know that doesn’t ease your pain but I grateful that you knew she loved the one who says there is more than this love. That doesn’t diminish your hurt though. I am honored you would share part of your story with me. Thank you. Tindell BaldwinReplyCancel

      • Cathy Semeria - I’m so grateful that the Lord spoke to you through my sweet Tini’s life and hope that you’ll download her song Be Still – it’s on iTunes now and all proceeds are going to ministries Tini is passionate about including Passion. You can download here – christinasemeria.org
        All my love and hope to meet you someday soon. Give your sweet baby a hug from me! Cathay SemeriaReplyCancel

Thursdays are my “day off” which simply means both of my kids are in preschool for a blissful 3.5 hours and I get to be an adult who carries a purse instead of a mom who has diaper bag full of snacks, wipes, and lord knows what else rotting at the bottom. I get some time to be just me. It’s a pure luxury but as a stay at home mom there isn’t one part of my life that doesn’t scream “I have small children”, except for Thursday mornings (and my car because I’m one of those impractical people who refuse to drive a minivan). So with summer fast approaching I am contemplating just how I am going to make it, because some weeks feel that way.

How am I going to have 5 days a week full of wonderful (but exhausting) three year old questions and horrific two year old tantrums? How am I going to run all my errands, both of them in tow, and handle 3 meals a day for 2 months with no one to step in and help? If it sounds like I am being a bit dramatic it is because preschool and salvation are the only two things that have ever saved my life. For me losing my freedom has been the hardest part of motherhood. I can handle the chaos (most of the time) and insomnia has helped me cope with seasons of sleep deprivation but chaining (figuratively) me to the house and telling me to keep everyone alive and happy is hard. I used to feel bad that this was hard. I used to beat myself up because I didn’t love every single part of parenting but now I know that’s just how it goes. I love staying home, I think it’s a huge blessing but it has its challenges, just like any job, such as trying to go to the bathroom alone (who knew this would be an actual issue).

Motherhood is just hard. It’s just hard work. It’s exhausting and draining and requires your blood, sweat, and tears (literally). So how do we do it? In every hard season (for many moms I’ve talked to that is summer… I mean how many times can you really go to the pool?) we just make it. We put one foot in front of the other, suck it up, and try to focus on the truly wonderful yet fleeting moments when they come. The good moments always come, when the sun stays out late and you watch them run around the grass with sheer joy written all over their face. They come when you least expect it and give you a glimmer of hope but its ok when it’s just hard. Hard seasons don’t make me a bad mom, they make me human. How I handle it is on me, but accepting it’s hard and admitting it doesn’t make me any less of a mom. I’ll do the right thing, I’ll rally, and eat mass amounts of chocolate when my coping methods get poor. It’s ok for it to be hard. It’s ok to have a hard season and ask God for help every single day of the sticky hot summer with nowhere to go and two sets of eyes looking up at you saying “what are we doing today mommy?”IMG_2645

So feel free to cry with me as April rolls into May and the calendar warns me I only have four more weeks of sanity. We will make it. It will be hard but we will make it and if you’re one of those moms that loves summer and can’t wait to spend uninterrupted quality time with your littles….well… Bahhumbug.

 

 

<—– where I will imagine I am every day between May 15th and August 15th

“You have a choice.”

It’s the line I feed my moody three year old when she can’t decide if she wants to obey or break down crying for no real reason. Apparently, being told you must go potty (the word you only use after becoming a parent) before you leave the house warrants tears and wailing like you just got run over by an 18 wheeler.  I want her to know that actions have consequences but the choice is hers. It’s become something I say daily now with the terrible threes looming on for what feels like eternity (whoever made up the terrible twos just used two because it sounded better). I have spent the last few weeks very tired (I blame the tiny human I am growing), cranky, and a little bit fed up with the attitude my previously sweet and loving daughter has been dishing out. I want her to choose well.

Last night when I couldn’t sleep I was thinking about the choices we all have to make. Choosing well doesn’t quit when you turn 4, it keeps on presenting itself but the consequences get bigger and more detrimental the older we get. Real life is so much harder than three year old life. Jesus always invites us into the choice though. He never chooses for us.

“You have a choice” he whispers into our heart for every season of life we are in.

When babies are draining and life seems daunting and you just want to veg out to TV and waste away the precious (yet hardest) season of life.

“You have a choice” he whispers, when you are waiting for what seems like a lifetime to be married, pregnant, or whatever you are dreaming of.

“You have a choice” he pleads, when you want the quick fix instead of the long road. When right now seems good enough and your future feels far off.

“You have a choice” he calls, when you feel like the world owes you something and people have let you down. When everyday isn’t what you dreamed of, when people are constantly letting you down, when your life altogether isn’t the picture you had in your head.

You have a choice, he says, and I hope you choose me. Choose me, when you want to run to the world for quick comfort. Choose me, when you want to harbor bitterness instead of extending forgiveness, choose me when you don’t know where to take your dreams. Choose me, when you don’t know who to trust or where to run. Choose me, when you are lost, angry, alone, and weary. Choose me, because hate never cured a broken heart only arms spread wide on a cross can. I am never biased or uninterested in your fear or anger. I am never weary of your burdens or tired of your pain. I am most careful with the things that are most precious to you. Choose me, I have already gone to great lengths to make a way for you to have that choice.

Choose well.

He invites you in. No matter the story or the circumstance. We too often want to be three year olds flailing about like our life is the only one that is unfair. We hold our love from the God who loves us most like we might be able to convince him to give us what we think we need. Look around, the world is broken, everyone is hurting. I believe he was broken for us on that rugged cross but in the midst of our breaking world he is asking us to come as close to healing as possible. He is asking us to choose Jesus.

So often what keeps me from making the best choice is my pride, because Jesus asks me to do the things that are most unnatural to my selfish heart. Forgive, love without pretense, be patient, put others first, don’t harbor bitterness, he asks too much of me. I have often asked God when I can hear him telling me to do one of these things, “then who will look out for me?” If I put others first who will put me first, if I love unconditionally then I might get hurt, if I forgive I let go of a debt I think is owed to me. Then who is looking out for me?

“I am” he says.

It says he is near to those that draw near to him. It says he took all our shame and pain to the cross making him the perfect advocate on our behalf. HE looks out for me because he cares for me so I can choose him with full confidence. I can choose him because he went to the cross for my heart and no love has been greater. The pain will still come, the choice will still be hard, we will still have to wrestle our human hearts to obedience but what joy for those who find their hope in Jesus.

“Choose me” -Jesus

“Claire, tell them what Briggs is.”briggs1

“He’s spicy nicey”

And then fake laughter ensues because no one thinks your kids are quite as funny as you do. Its our party line (we go to very different parties than you… think more grape juice less wine). It came from reading a book Briggs liked that said spicy nicey combined with a brief biting stint he went through (and by brief I mean 6 months of his only 20 month life). It was cute when Claire started saying it and you know if the shoe fits.

Sbriggs3ee my first born is the sweet rule follower, she tricked me into believing I had this whole parenting bit down, so then he brother came along a short 19 months later to humble the proud. My in laws laugh now because they knew what I only recently realized, about 99% of my parental success of my first born was pure temperament. She genuinely likes making people happy, she enjoys helping, and when I told her no she simply accepted that as an answer and went on her merry way (while I pated myself on the back and wondered why everyone said this parenting thing was so hard). Enter Briggs, my spirited second born, who I should have known wanted things his own way when he made his arrival 3 weeks early. He thinks “come here” means run away quickly and hide. He thinks “no” is something you shout back at someone when they tell you not to do something and he thinks all toys are “MINE.” In short he’s spicy nicey. The nice part is added because he also is a big cuddler, loves his sister a ton and shows it with large bear hugs turned tackles, and will makes everyone laugh. They are pretty perfect compliments and while I often find him in a corner trying to open the liquid Tylenol to make sure I know where the nearest ER is he is perfectly him.

If we aren’t careful we can label our children in two ways… good or bad. Claire by the world standards is good and Briggs is bad. I don’t agree, I think some kids are just better at faking it than others.
I want my kids to know even the best faker doesn’t fool God or meet Gods standard of holy. See we are all rebels, it is planted in our hearts from the fall, we want to run from God/authority and some of us just suck at faking it.

I was one of those kids, one of the bad ones. My parents affectionately referred to my brand of childhood antics as having “one of those.” It was not a mystery that Ibriggs4was a hard kid. I wanted to be obedient, I really did, but I was so curious and mischievous and I had three boys to help me accomplish such things. Now my parents were also good at praising my good qualities but this isn’t a blog post about that… moving on. I remember believing early on that I was a lot to handle. I was never a “typical” girl and I often wished I could be less loud and more graceful. I wasn’t. I was just me. I was ADHD to the max and never exceled greatly at school or sports. I know now that who I am is just fine (the whole writing a book bit helped… kidding). As an adult I’ve learned a lot of the things God created in me are the things he knew I would need for his kingdom. He has gifted me perfectly to pour my life back into him and I believe he has done the same with each of my children. I think all too often the qualities the world labels as “bad” are things God sees and says, I can’t wait to use that.

Claire and Briggs have been in swimming lessons and let’s just say Briggs hasn’t enjoyed it quite like Claire has. I was telling a few people separately that Briggs hated lessons and his teacher overheard me and said, “Don’t say that… he will believe whatever you tell him.” So simple yet so profound. My kids will believe whatever I tell them. If I send Claire the message that she can get by in life on her own as long as she keeps everyone happy she will never see her need for God. If I tell Briggs he is wild and crazy he will believe it and never understand that wild and crazy can be great things when aligned with the right passions. Whatever we tell them, they will believe.

I have stopped praying for God to make Briggs less strong willed or more compliant, instead I have prayed God would teach me to turn his passion and will into a man of God who stands for all the right things. Let’s be real the world could use more men like that. I don’t want my son to roll over in the face of injustice or cruelty, I want him to stand strong and yell NO right back at it.  I don’t pray that Claire keeps making my life easy all the days of her life, I pray God would be real to her, I pray she would see we can never perform our way to perfection. I pray she sees that mercy and grace are her best friends.  I pray she knows God loves her even on her worst day. I want my kids to always know, that they were perfectly created for God’s purpose. I tell Claire all the time she is beautiful and then I ask her if she knows why I think she’s beautiful. She smiles big and asks why, I tell her because God gave her a beautiful heart that loves others. God can make any heart beautiful, let us never forget it.

Ezekiel 36:26New Living Translation (NLT)

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.[a]

There used to be this song I loved by Mat Kearney that said, “I guess we are all one phone call from our knees.” One night sitting in bed with Ben laughing in Houston, about 6 months after our wedding, I got mine. It wasn’t one about sickness, or death, or injury… it wasn’t loss, it was disappointment. It was the news that someone you loved had let you down. It’s the news that life isn’t going to go how you pictured in your well written fairy tale. Death and loss require mourning but, disappointment begs for blame because the only thing to mourn is expectations. Death so often includes disappointment but disappointment is only the death of a dream. Disappointment wants to land on someone and often God gets our wagging finger instead of our broken prayers. Disappointment changes things enough to make an impact but not enough to stop life.

I didn’t weather mine well. I cried, I fought God, and I got angry. I sank into a real depression and begged God to change the situation instead of just asking him for guidance because the facts weren’t changing. We all have our dark night, our phone call that pushes us to our knees, the question is what will we do once we get there? Will we grieve it well and ask God for guidance or will we wallow and blame? In life disappointment isn’t a matter of IF it’s a matter of when. However, if we let our disappointment with life define our view of God we will always be disappointed. I was telling one of my high school students to weather it well when she told me of disappointment with a summer internship she had been praying for. Often it starts early, sometimes later, but it always comes, God promised it. He promised trouble and heartache but he also promised comfort and peace. We always have a choice with where we run when pain hits.

I have been thinking about the disciples this week (because I’m super spiritual like that… not) since its holy week and thinking about the days leading up to Jesus death. I have been thinking about Peter because I think I would have been the same way… so confident when promise was walking beside me and so disillusioned and afraid the minute it left. When Jesus was with him he knew he was the messiah, he knew he would walk with him wherever he went…unless he walked towards death then Peter was gone.

We all have our line, the line that if crossed we question everything we once thought true about our faith. We all have our thing that we hold onto and say, “I trust you… just don’t touch this.” I won’t lie, mine is my kids and husband, and if anything were to happen to them I would have a hard time believing God was good. Even though that moment could be minutes after I write this. Our confidence in God can be wavering when we don’t know the end of the story. Peter only believed again (and died for) who Jesus said he was when Jesus did something no man could ever do, he beat death. He walked out of a grave and when Peter saw the end of the story he was no longer disappointed by previous circumstances. It’s so hard to trust God in present disappointment when we don’t know the end of the story. We don’t know if anything will ever change.

Romans 5:3-5

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

In one of my current favorite books Make it Zero (click link to see it) a woman, I got the privilege to meet, shares the story of her disappointment and devastation after her husband left. She said God whispered to her, “Grieve this trauma well because I’m going to use it to accomplish something you can’t even imagine” and she does and he is faithful. It’s an incredible story… you should buy the book. I think this is God’s invitation into life’s greatest disappointment. “Whether it well,” he whispers and “I’ll use you greatly” because we always have two choices, we can become bitter or we can become better prayers.

Disappointment will happen no matter where your hope lands. I’d rather let mine be used and thank the good Lord that his redemption and mercy can turn some of my greatest disappointments into the markers where I saw him show up the most. During the depth of this heartache in Houston, TX  was also when God asked me to write my story for him. In the midst of my pain he called me to his great purpose. I’m so glad I trusted him even though my story is still being written. The truth is we never leave this earth without first tasting far too many of our own salty tears but the other truth is God is trustworthy no matter what life hands us. This week especially we can nail our disappointment to the cross knowing that hope will walk out of the grave.

Come broken hearted
Oh, sinner draw near
Earth has no sorrow
Heaven can’t heal
-David Crowder
  • Amanda - Tindell, thank you for this wonderful reminder of how we have a God who is our hope and in Him we can trust especially when those hurricanes make landfall unexpectedly in the midst of our lives and nothing seems to make sense. I certainly have had disappointments or life shattering moments in life that I didn’t always “weather too well” but one thing I have learned is that even in the darkness the light of Christ shines to lead the way I just need to pick my head up long enough to catch that glimmer at times and follow it. We may question, we can wonder what it means but one thing I know, even though I can’t always see it, is “God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (romans 8:28) and very often as you say in the darkest hour is when we see God show up the most and through that we can live out our purpose in Him.ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Amanda,
      Yes this is so true! Thanks for reading! Glad you could be encouraged.ReplyCancel

After my first child I called my mom and said, “ok how did you do this?”

When my second child was born I called my mom crying and said, “no seriously how did you do this??”

DSC_3023_2She comforted me, told me I’d survive, and to push on. That’s pretty much all you can do some days. The fact that I grew up with three brothers didn’t mean much as a kid, it was my normal. I never looked at my mom in awe and said, wow I can’t believe you have managed four little lives so well. As a kid you know your normal and are blissfully unaware of the actual reality of adulthood, I always thought it consisted of bossing others around and eating lots of candy. My brothers and I told my parents once we thought they had so many of us so that they had someone to do all the chores. I think their exact response was, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.”

Something magical happens when you become a parent though; you get this new found perspective known as empathy. All the sudden it’s really impressive that you had a childhood filled with love and that you’re mom managed to keep her sanity while raising three boys… and me. I have often wondered how my mom did it so well because my brothers and I have all said if we could give our kids a portion of the childhood we had we would consider the grade on our parent report card to be a big fat A+ (which would be impressive since I’ve never managed to ace anything in my life… including gym).

image-6

Recently I asked my mom after a particularly stressful day how she didn’t lose her temper at us daily. Again she laughed, “I did.. a lot.” I couldn’t comprehend it because my memories involve love, laughter, trips, more laughter, and a lot of family dinners. Isn’t it amazing though how love really does cover a multitude of sins?

My parents had a hard marriage, hard finances, hard illnesses, in fact they had a hard everything but they loved us all so much we didn’t feel it. They shielded us from the realities of their world by pouring enough love into our tiny ones.  I didn’t know until I graduated from college the real heartache my parents had endured to make our childhoods so incredibly wonderful. They chose us over themselves, they worked hard to provide, and they sought the lord for wisdom.

I was searching for the words to describe how this could happen when I realized it was grace. God gives us so much grace in raising our kids. I am often so concerned that I am screwing my kids up. I should be more patient, I should do more crafts, I should turn the TV off more, etc, etc, etc, when I realized that I devote most of my energy to making sure my kids have a childhood worth remembering. Grace covers the rest. Our worry often blinds us to the really amazing things that happen under our roofs every day. Like when my daughter tells me she helped a kid who got pushed in class, or my son lisps out I love you when I put him down, or a million other incredible things that happen because we love them enough to make an impact.

I think sometimes we need less rules and more grace, sometimes we need to expect less and love more, sometimes we need to get to the end of day and thank God that he fills in the gaps in our parenting. The task of parenting is so daunting that my prayer has become, Lord just convict me when I’m doing it wrong… and he does. The truth is adulthood is hard, seasons suck sometimes, illness happens, conflict happens, and life isn’t nearly as beautiful as I thought it was when I was five and we will fail our kids. We will yell when we should comfort, we will discipline when we should let go, we will screw up but his grace is sufficient for our children’s hearts just as much as it is for our own grown up hearts. Praise him for that.

 

  • Taylor - Really great post Tindy and amazing truth! I resonate 100% in what you are saying. Some days, all I can remember is how I failed as a parent. God’s grace better be HUGE to cover my screwups. The amazing thing is that it is. I’m thankful for that and it gives me hope! Love you, TayReplyCancel

  • Karen - My son just turned 13, and has decided he wants to be the class clown in junior high. I have been to the principal’s office a few times for the school year. Every time I go, I cringe inside, because I feel like I have failed the parenting test. The last time I couldn’t get to the car fast enough, before the tears started to spill. To my dismay, he said that he didn’t think the meeting was that bad…..I said ‘What!!!!!’ and doubled his punishment. Sometimes, I try to think back to his baby and toddler years, and try to figure out when he fell on his head, because clearly, all the good common sense has been knocked out! Then there are those sweet and precious moments, when he just comes up behind me and hugs me and says, “mom I love you.” My heart melts. I know that, that is God’s grace in my life, manifested in my son’s proclamation of love. It also gives me hope that I am not a terrible parent, and I haven’t done anything that will scar him for life. Thank you Tindell, for sharing. Your article made me smile!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy parker - Thanks so much for your encouraging reminder! I’m so grateful that God is full of love and grace and never lets go! I’m a mother of 4 (ages 25-15) and He reminds me daily that His plan is perfect! My husband and I look forward to each of your messages! Praying for you and your sweet family! Thanks for being real!ReplyCancel

  • Anna Etheriedge - Loved this! Sparked a great conversation with my 2 youngest on the way to school. We laughed and laughed at what they remember… a lot about their dad being there at night; antics of putting them to bed. And I used to think they’d just remember me with them ALL day long homeschooling, Hah! GraceReplyCancel

  • Denise Noble - Hi, Tindell!
    What a beautiful blog … I am wanting to sit here and read and soak in more, but I am hearing my daughters waking up and stirring upstairs! 🙂 I have 3 girls, 13, 11, and 7. We go to North Point, and my oldest, Andie, and I serve in Room #110, your daughter Blaire’s room! What a sweetheart she is. I didn’t make the connection until just recently! I just finished your book … wow, so powerful. Thank you, thank you for sharing your story. I have a heart for young women as well, and I work with Anni Keffer on Young Women of Influence … she recently reached out to you to see if you would speak at our next event in Alpharetta in Jan. 2017. God works in mysterious and amazing ways! Anyway, would love to meet you, and will be in Waumbaland this Sunday!
    Have a great rest of the week!
    DeniseReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Denise,
      Thank you so much! Claire loves Waumba land so much. I’ll make sure and say hi next time I drop claire off!
      God Bless,
      TindellReplyCancel

Claire came bounding into my bathroom as I got ready to leave the house, wearing her favorite footed penguin pajamas, she smiled shy at me and said, “Mama do I look pretty?” It was such a simple question but I knew it meant everything in her tiny world. I smiled, wishing all questions in life were this easy, “you look beautiful sweetie, and you always do.” She smiled big, playing with her hair, I had given her just the answer she was hoping for. She sat and watched me finish my makeup and brush my hair one last time informing me that she too needed red lip gloss. I laughed, gave her a little and told her to go show daddy, waiting to hear the oohhs and ahhs that ensued. I loved moments like these where she gave me such an easy opportunity to affirm her in the simplest yet profound ways. Memories filled of me asking my mom that very question as I watched her get ready for her dates with my dad. I would sit in her bathroom on the edge of the tub and wonder if I would ever have as much beauty and grace as my momma. 3

Aren’t we all running around the world asking others to answer important questions about us ever so silently? How many times have I walked into a room begging for someone to give me the same answer, “yes you are beautiful, yes you are valuable, yes you matter.” We are all plagued by questions we need answering but if we are not careful we can place our fragile identities into the wrong hands.

It’s easy to spot young, the daughter desperate for love who runs into the arms of a boy who is only looking for lust… if only her dad had looked up from the TV to tell her what her heart needed to hear. Or the boy picking a fight so someone will tell him he is man enough. The adult versions are even less pretty, grown men needing all the right flash to tell you they are worth something, woman with all the right gossip so they won’t feel like such a fraud and all along the way we are asking, am I worth something, am I pretty, do I matter?

Where can we safely take questions of such magnitude?

One of my favorite artists is Sara Barellies, so much so that I went to her concert 37 weeks pregnant with Briggs and all I cared about was making it through that concert and not being rushed to labor and delivery. I managed to make it through… then promptly gave birth two days later (winning). My absolute favorite song of hers says “does anyone know how to hold my heart?” What a question. Does anyone know? Nope. I have yet to find a man or woman on earth who has the ability or the selflessness to take my fragile heart and hold it with great care. I have yet to be able to trust in anyone but him.

The thing is, I have the absolute best people around me, top notch friends and family who love me well but they have almost all let me down in some way, just as I have them. I don’t know anyone who can hold my heart. I only know one who went to the cross to win my heart. I only know one who is safe to ask life’s questions to.

Am I pretty? I created you in my image. (Gen 1:27)  It’s my breath in your lungs

Am I worth loving? I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeramiah 31:3) I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:4)

 Do I matter? You are fearfully and wonderfully made, (psalms 139:14) I know the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30) and I spoke creation into being. If you trust me to begin a good work in you I will see it to completion. (Philippians 1:6)

Who will protect me? I will be within her, she will not fall. (Psalm 46:5) Though enemy’s surround you I will spread my wings over you and protect you. (Psalms 91:4)

The only safe place to run to with the questions that call from within our beating hearts is the one who made our heart beat. You are enough. You are loved. You matter.  As much as I want to be able to affirm everything in my daughter, son, and anyone else I love I know I will fail. My words will never be enough, the hole where affirmation should go will gape with questions until we place our heart in the hands of the one who said, It is finished. Our inadequacies will eat at us and we will ask all the wrong questions to all the wrong people until we believe there is a God who loves us enough to endure death, even death on a cross, to give us what we never deserved in the first place.

  • D - This is amazing! Thank you very much for sharing!
    As an adult, I read your book, and saw myself in many of the pages. Thank you for sharing your story!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - Thank you Tindell, for reminding us that God’s love and faithfulness is more than sufficient. All we have to do is believe with our whole heart, mind, and spirit.ReplyCancel

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