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.

1 Samuel 20; 1 Chronicles 4; Psalm 56, 57, 142; Acts 14

Suffering…where have you seen it? Where have you experienced it?

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:1‬ ‭NIV

Suffering is all around us. Either in our own lives or in the lives of those we love. King David knew suffering. All we have to do is read psalms to see the agony and suffering of David. His words to God were honest and raw. They were a true testament to his desire to be honest with his God and his belief that there was a God listening. Even more important…a God who cared.

As I have worked with families through the loss of a loved one, suffering is the exact word to describe the grief and pain they feel in that time. So many of us want to be able to say the words…bring the right meal…send the perfect card…or give the most meaningful gift that will ease the suffering. However, suffering is rarely relieved so easily.

Healing from suffering takes time and intentionality. It takes honesty and vulnerability. David went to Jonathan for help in 1 Samuel 20. He went to God in Psalm 56 and 57. He kept going to the right places for help and hope.

David knew and we can know today, that we have a present God who is with us in the most difficult times of our lives. He is eager to draw near. He may not rescue and that is hard!! Sit in that difficult space with your God. Sit in that difficult space with others. Cry out to God with your vulnerable self and watch as He draws near.

Dear God, you know the suffering of your children. Right now, may your presence be felt by those who are crying out for mercy. May they know beyond doubt that they are heard and are not alone. Give us the patience to sit with those who are suffering with no agenda. May your relief be felt in the lives of the suffering. Amen.

Mandy

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Ruth 3-4; Psalm 37; Acts 4

Morning Peace; Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalms‬ ‭37:1-4‬ ‭NIV

How well do you trust?

For some, trust is easy. They have experienced the unconditional love and acceptance that leads them to trust. Others struggle to trust because of hurt and pain they have experienced in life. The Lord desires our trust and for me…that is hard!!

It is not just my hurt that gets in the way of trust, but the hurt of those I love. Walking with others through their pain can lead to complications in our own trust. And yet…I know I have a God who is good and loving and kind and trustworthy.

So how do I grow my trust in God? I think the passage above from Psalm 37 will help us with that. First, step away from the immediate pain and see the bigger picture. See where others are loving and kind. See how God is present in the circumstance. Notice where love is intersecting with your pain or the pain of another.

A second way to grow trust is to do good. For me this looks like being a trustworthy person. Saying what I mean and speaking truth. It looks like being honest with God and not trying to trick Him into doing what I want Him to do. We will have trouble trusting if we ourselves are not trustworthy.

A third way to grow trust is to practice. And just like practicing anything, sometimes it will go well and sometimes it won’t. We start small and work up to bigger things.

What is one step you can take today to work on trust…specifically trusting God?

Heavenly Father, you know how hard it can be for us to trust. You lived this life with all of its hurts and pains. You know what it feels like to have trusted another and then been betrayed by them. Meet us in our lack of trust and comfort us with your presence. Amen.

Mandy

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Joshua 18-21; Psalm 15; Luke 18

“Sunrise” Photo by Mandy Baldwin

What do you want?

I want…a house in the country with sheep and goats and cows and chickens. I want a big front porch with rocking chairs to watch the sunrise and sunset. I want all my friends and family to be within walking distance. I want to be able to sing like Carrie Underwood.

What do you want?

“Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.”

Luke‬ ‭18:40-41‬ ‭NIV

I love how Jesus invited the blind man to share what he wanted. Jesus could obviously tell what was wrong. I doubt there was anyone in the area that didn’t know what the man wanted. It was important, however, for the man to ask for what he wanted. Why?

I know for me, there is a vulnerability in asking for what I want. There is always the chance it won’t be given. There is a chance it won’t be understood. There is a chance I could be mocked for my wants. And yet…Jesus wants to know. Jesus desires the intimacy of relationship with us.

I love reading about the encounters with Jesus in the Gospels. They give us such insight into the character of God. We have a God who is powerful and strong and merciful and gracious. And…we have a God who wants to know us. Not know us on a surface level but on a deep level. On a want level. I believe God delights in hearing our voice and specifically hearing about our wants because He ultimately desires an intimate relationship with us.

How would your life be different if you boldly asked God for what you wanted? How would your relationship with God change? How could it grow and deepen?

The blind man in Luke 18 was healed…because he asked.

Heavenly Father, you already know our deepest desires and yet you still call us to ask. Your heart is for a relationship with us. Thank you for being that kind of God. May our asking bring greater depths of love and trust in you. Amen.

Mandy

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Deuteronomy 10-14; Psalm 5; Luke 8

Trust: Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“But do you trust me?”

I heard those words as I was praying one day for direction from God, for understanding in a situation. Have you ever done that? Sometimes I hear answers…sometimes I don’t…and most of the time I hear more questions.

God has been leading me on a journey of leaning into His love and affection for me. During hard times I remind myself of 4 things: I have a God who loves me; I have a God who is for me; I have a God who is fighting for me; and I have a God who desires good things for me. Because those things are true, I am always enough. Those truths calm my fears and anxiety.

On this particular day, however, instead of those truths, God asked “But do you trust me”? I believe now more than I ever have in my life that I am loved and enough because of who my God is. And now…I want to walk in trust of God more and more.

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,”

Deuteronomy‬ ‭10:12‬ ‭NIV

God is calling us to trust Him which we demonstrate through obedience.

  • Trusting Him when things around us don’t make sense.
  • Trusting Him when people around us don’t make sense.
  • Trusting Him with our futures.
  • Trusting Him with our pain.
  • Trusting Him with the pain of those we love.
  • Trusting Him…and…being obedient.

The Israelites were called to trust and obey. God demonstrated His love, now it’s our turn. Gods love is not contingent on our love…it’s a truth we can cling to. That truth then allows us to trust. And part of trust is obeying, especially when it’s hard.

God has already been tapping on my heart and leading me in a specific direction of obedience. Where is he leading you?

Dear God, thank you for delighting in loving and caring for us. For taking such efforts to demonstrate that love and care. We feel it!! And now, as we take steps forward with you may they be steps of trust and obedience that is birthed from a love that will never fade or fail. You are so good and I love you! Amen.

Mandy

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Numbers 12-14; Psalm 28; Colossians 2

Winter Sunset Photo by Mandy Baldwin

Growing up, the thing I got in trouble for more than anything else, was my tone. If you don’t know the teenage tone, all you have to do is spend one day in your local Jr. High School and I’m sure you will hear it. I had no idea what my mom meant by my tone until I started working with Jr. High students out of college…then I heard it. (Sorry mom…I now understand.)

When I read Psalms…sometimes I hear the tone in my head.

“To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit.”

Psalms‬ ‭28:1‬ ‭

Why does God allow us to speak to Him so casually as David does in so many of the Psalms? Why does He allow us to assume an intent of dismissiveness on His part? Why does God include such speech in His word?

God knows so much more than we do. And yet…we so often think we know exactly what is going on. It reminds me of the three year old having a tantrum and crying over a perceived hurt. The parent comforts and stays with the child and in that moment the child learns that the parent is safe.

How have you learned that God is safe? Or even more important…good?

I learn and feel Gods goodness through His comfort of my pain. I learn of Gods safety through the love He pours over my broken heart. I learn Of His power when He comforts me and yes, corrects me in my sin. I learn about God when He meets me in my tone.

David doesn’t stay in the place of condemning God, demanding from God or questioning God. That may be where he starts but that is not where God leaves Him.

“Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy.”

Psalms‬ ‭28:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God allows for our tone because He desires to teach us about Himself. When we learn more about God, we trust Him more and we love Him and others more.

Dear God, thank you for your patience with my tone. Thank you for meeting me in my place of hurt and pain. Thank you for seeing past the tone and not withholding yourself but bringing love and mercy. May we continue to grow in our knowledge of you and may that knowledge grow our trust of you and love for you and others. Amen.

Mandy

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