Author Archives: mkaybaldwin

About mkaybaldwin

I have spent the majority of my life in central Indiana. I am a graduate of North centeral High School. I love to travel to visit family, especially my four nieces and nephews who live in Southeast Asia. I am the youngest of three. My oldest sister has Down Syndrome. After graduating from College, I began working at a church and for over 17 years served as a youth pastor and a caring ministries pastor. Currently, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist continuing in ministry through a different context.

Exodus 20; Luke 23; Job 38; 2 Cor. 8

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?”

Job 38:2-5, NIV

The story of Job is filled with unimaginable pain. So much loss created a grief in Job that I pray I never know. How natural for Job to cry out to God, and wonder what’s happening. We have the benefit of knowing the whole story and we know Job never turned against God in his grief.

Jobs friends on the other hand, loved giving their opinion and “direction”. If they had just continued to sit with Job and not attempted to speak for God or explain the why of his grief, how much better would that have been for Job? Instead they became uncomfortable with his Grief and tried to rush him out of it by saying he sinned against God.

So many voices speaking into Jobs life and circumstances. Then in chapter 38 we hear from God. I love His reminder of Who He is..

  • Creator
  • Powerful
  • Sovereign
  • Wisdom
  • All-Knowing
  • God

I want no other God than what is described in Job 38 and following. That God is beyond my understanding. I want a big God like that. A god I can understand completely is too small. A small god cannot change the pain and hurt of the world. A small god cannot handle my hurt and fear. A small god has a pride that keeps a distance. A small god does not sacrifice himself.

Dear God, thank you for being a big God. Thank you for being beyond our understanding. Thank you for knowing all and providing wisdom so we can follow you. May the reminder of how big and awesome you are, bring peace and trust in our souls. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Exodus 7; Luke 10; Job 24; 1 Cor. 11

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.””

Luke 10:18-20, NIV

It feels so good to get excited about wins in life. I remember back in high school when our band got second at a state competition. That was a first for our school and we were ecstatic!! It felt amazing!! I remember our band director celebrating with us. I also remember going to school that following Monday and getting back to practice. We had done amazing…and we needed to keep working.

I love the encouragement of the Lord to the 72 He sent out in His name. He rejoiced with them. He affirmed the power they have in Him. I love that we have a God that rejoices with us. He empowers us to live in His name and then he affirms that work and encourages us.

Jesus doesn’t stop at encouragement. He cautions the 72 to not stop and to continue on towards the goal…eternity with Him. Their new power is not the most important thing. It’s not the end goal of a relationship with Jesus. Eternity is.

Dear God, let us not loose sight of you in the midst of the work you are doing through us. Let us not get so caught up in the work that we neglect our relationship with you. Thank you for being a God that celebrates with us. You are so good!! Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Gen. 28; Matt. 27; Esther 4; Acts 27

“When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:12-14, NIV
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

I have never done something that saved a nation. I haven’t been on the news or written about in the papers. Most of Indianapolis has never heard of me. I have never been confronted with the potentially life-threatening decision that was put before Esther. I can’t imagine the internal turmoil she experienced.

I wonder if we are so busy looking for our nation saving opportunity that we miss our life changing opportunities.

I have read and re-read the quote by Mordecai so many times in my life. I wondered and dreamed about what my “such a time as this” could be and would be. I’ve struggled with the smallness of my influence. How will I save a nation when I’m not known…when I’m not heard?

But what if my “such a time as this” is how I treat others I see everyday? How I interact with those I don’t know? How I come alongside those who have no one? How I show up for the unknown? I have been challenged by my God to show up in the lives of people who don’t have anyone to show up for them.

What would happen if we all showed up in that way? I am not saving a nation like Esther but I get to love a life that God has called me to love. If we all did that…could we save a nation? If we all answered the “such a time as this” call together, what could happen?

Dear Father, please open our eyes to your work and your call. May we not be so focused on the big work that we miss the many small works that change lives and then change the world. Father, it is not our work or our love but yours. Compel our hearts. Thank you for using us. To you be the glory. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Genesis 14; Matthew 13; Nehemiah 3; Acts 13

“You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables.”

Matthew 13:11-13, NLT
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

I listen to people for a living. I am a mental health therapist and my job requires me to actively listen to people. There have been a number of times when I have spoken into the persons life and was confronted with a blank stare. That has always been a sign to me that I either mis-heard them or mis-interpreted what they said. Then I have to double back and ask for clarity.

I so wish I could sit face-to-face with my God. That way I could not only hear His voice clearly, but then I could double check. “Did I hear you right?” “Is this what you mean?” “Did you mean for me to do this…say this…go there?” I know I am not alone in my desire for the clarity of God.

In Matthew we see God’s desire to speak clearly to us. It’s not only about His clarity it’s about our willingness to listen…really listen…actively listen. In order for me to actively listen to my clients, I have to do work. I have to make sure I’ve had enough rest and am not exhausted. I have to focus. I have to look for cues that either match what they are saying or contradict what they are saying. I have to be willing to ask for clarity when I don’t understand.

Am I listening to God with as much urgency as I listen to those around me?

I am challenged to spend more time preparing to listen to God and then setting aside time to listen. I am challenged to follow-up with God and trusted Christ-Followers about teachings I don’t understand. I am encouraged that God does not desire confusion but clarity. I am encouraged that my God reveals Himself to us…that He desires to grow our knowledge of Him. We have a God who desires to be known by us.

Dear God, may my heart continue to be drawn to You and understanding of You. May understanding draw my heart closer to yours. May understanding be seen in my actions and how I love you and others. Thank you God for your presence and your teaching and your love. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Psalm 119

Photo by Mandy Baldwin;
The Washington National Cathedral

How many times have you read Psalm 119? I read it again, but this time in a different translation. The meaning didn’t change but it felt different. The familiar became new.

Take a minute and read it again, or at least your favorite part, in a different translation.

“O Lord, listen to my cry; give me the discerning mind you promised.

Listen to my prayer; rescue me as you promised.

Let praise flow from my lips, for you have taught me your decrees.”

Psalms 119:169-171; NLT

These verses speak of desperation and praise. This past year I have been learning more and more about how seemingly opposites can be present at the same time. Happy and sad; joy and jealousy; longing and contentment.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin;
Girl dancing in the light.

Like many of the Psalms, Psalm 119 brings together opposites. The author seeks salvation and praises God for His provision at the same time. I can long for more and be content with what I have. I can long for relief from suffering and be filled with joy because of who my God is. I love the example the author sets for us.

Dear God, thank you for this gift of life. As we continue to walk with hurt and pain and confusion may we also be filled with your peace and your joy and your contentment. We pray for relief…for healing…for restoration. And we praise you for your presence. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Malachi 3-4; Job 1-2

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.”

Malachi 3:1, NIV
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

Christmas is coming! This is my favorite time of year! I love the decorations and the joy that seems to float in the air. The lights that different organizations display are beautiful. The trees that are decorated are magical. And yet…it can be one of the most painful times of the year for some.

Have you ever noticed how grief and joy seem to go hand in hand?

Malachi 3 starts with the promise of the coming Messiah. The Israelite’s were living for the day when their King would come and save them from their enemies. The problem, however, is that they were their own worst enemy. I’ve been there. Much of the time I’m not led astray by Satan or others but by “my own evil desires” (James 1:14). The joy of the coming Messiah came with the grief of sin.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

What do we do with the grief of sin?

Throughout scripture, God does not leave the reader without hope. There is always a way out…a way back to the joy.

  • “In repentance and rest is your salvation” Isaiah 30:15
  • “If you repent, I will restore you…” Jeremiah 15:19
  • “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:2

Repentance is turning back. It is not just seeking forgiveness but moving forward differently than before. At the beginning of this Christmas season…how can you turn your heart back to Christ? As we prepare for the second coming, what can we do individually and corporately to turn our hearts in the direction of God?

Dear God, forgive us our sins. May the ways we turn away from you grieve our hearts and compel us to turn back to you. May the grief of our sin bring about repentance and healing and restoration. Thank you for being a God of hope and peace. Amen

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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Ezra 5-6; John 10; Psalm 138

“Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.”

Psalms 138:6-7, NIV
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

What makes you feel special?

I feel special when…

  • I’m recognized for what I do.
  • When someone I consider to be special recognizes me.
  • When I’m remembered by someone I love.
  • When someone in authority over me, asks for my help.
  • When someone says, “I love you.”

I know I’m not alone when I say I struggle with feeling like I matter. It can be hard to see all the things that are going well when I feel like I’m less than someone else. It’s jealousy. It’s lack of self-worth. It’s normal. I have worked with enough people in my life to know that I am not alone.

A turning point in my life was when I was able to internalize the truth that I am loved and valued and recognized by the God of the universe. The God who created a world so big it’s beyond my comprehension. The God who is eternal. My GOD.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

I’ve shared this before…but I am forever reminded of the nearness of God standing on the beach.

  • I’m blown away by the number of grains of sand on the beach the goes on for miles. God knows exactly how many grains there are…on every beach…around the world. And He knows me.
  • I’m in awe when I stand at the waters edge and I realize I am loved and known and present with the God who knows exactly how much water fills the oceans.
  • I feel special when I am aware that the God who made the stars in the sky that dwarf my size is with me…created me on purpose…and desires to be known by me.

Dear God, may we feel your presence. May we be filled with a sense of your nearness. Thank you for being a God who values and cherishes His children. Thank you for loving me! Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

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