Roy Baldwin

All Things Come to an End

All things come to an end: life, seasons, a job/career, a calendar year, summer camp, a decade…and the list goes on. The end of a year can bring with it a chorus of different emotions and thoughts.

The end of every calendar year brings a time of reflection and evaluation for most people. I believe we naturally do this as humans because we are ultimately seeking answers to life’s 3 biggest questions:

“Who am I?”

“What is my purpose?”

“Where am I going?” 

Did you ever notice that people tend to ask us these questions indirectly? People are always wanting to know how we are doing, what we are doing and where we are going. Depending on where we are at in life, these questions can sting when we are in between careers and relationships, what we want to be when we grow up and why we are still single.

As I reflect on the past year, wrestle with what has transpired and grapple with what the future of Monadnock holds, I have found myself really wrestling with these bigger questions of “Who I am?” “What is my purpose? and “Where am I going?”  These questions are not just applicable to me as a ministry leader but more importantly as a husband and father. I feel the weight of not just answering these questions for myself but in leading many others.

The circumstances of life and the answer to these BIG questions can be extremely overwhelming and daunting. One of the biggest things that can exasperate this natural and spiritual process of reflection and evaluation is our busyness and hurriedness.

Why do I share these things with you? My fear for all of us is that if we don’t take the time, we will ultimately miss the blessing that God has in store for us and for those God has called us to love and serve.  It’s at the heart of what we find in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  You will see throughout the Old and New Testaments, and specifically Jesus’ teachings, that there is an emphasis on “looking forward.” The Lord guided, encouraged, inspired, pushed, pulled, challenged, humbled those he was calling to something greater than themselves, in order to fulfill his ultimate kingdom purposes.

Why do so many falter in taking possession of the things Christ has called them to?  The book of Hebrews reminds us that those who have gone before us, the heroes of our faith, (Hebrews 11) had a faith we need to emulate.  What kind of faith did they have? They had a faith described as “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Would your faith be described as “the substance of things hoped for…”

To be very candid with you…I am tired of telling others or even myself, “This has been a challenging year and hoping this next year is better.” I keep thinking, “it cant get any worse” and then each year seems to get harder and more challenging.  

Ann Voskamp writes in her advent book, The Greatest Gift,  “You can stand around a Christmas tree with a family tree like Joseph’s, with cheaters and beaters and deceivers, with a family like Jacob’s, who ran away and ran around and ran folks down. But out of a family line that looks like a mess, God brings the Messiah. What was intended to harm, God intended all of it for good, and no matter what intends to harm you, God’s arms have you. You can never be undone. No matter what intends to harm you . . . God is never absent, never impotent, never distant. You can never be undone.”  If this is true, which I believe it is, means that regardless of our past or future, blessings or challenges, joy or grief, peace or anxiety; in Christ, we truly can do all things in Him. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1–4)

As we look forward to the coming year, The Greatest Opportunity for you and for me, is how do we make known to others the hope we have found in Jesus Christ. When we see those around us struggling with the 3 big questions of life, can we point them to the author and answerer of those 3 questions? How can we allow Christ to take all of the circumstances of our lives and use them not just to strengthen our faith, but for others to see faith played out and to experience the hope and joy of knowing Christ on a deeper level.”

Karen Baldwin

How Great is our God

How Great is our God…
And All will see how Great,
How Great is our God

This song played on January 26th, 2007 at 5:29am, the moment my daughter , Emily, came into this world. I can guarantee I would have never known had the midwife not mentioned it’s perfect timing and started singing along. It had been a hard week for Roy and me as we found ourselves in the middle of huge changes; ones we weren’t ready for. It wasn’t Emily’s birth, but our whole life, our work, our home, and our family.

At a time that should have been full of joy, we found ourselves devastated in our circumstances and crippled by the uncertainty of our future. Yet the birth of our 3rd child, a moment frozen in time, brought great joy and peace. What a blessing she became that night, as she continues to be in our lives. 

How Great is our God

It’s funny how, in the fall of 2006, Roy had somehow programmed our phones to play this worship song whenever someone called. I was always conscious of it, as I knew we probably paid an extra charge every time it rang!!!


But over time it proved to be a way for God to speak directly to us, as though He was constantly reminding us that He was in control of our circumstances and that He truly was a Great God.

And All will see How Great is our God

As our life began to unfold and we began our journey, we quickly fell to our knees. Our prayer for years now has been that God would receive all the glory in every part of our lives. During those months we didn’t know where he wanted us to be, where we would call home, or even where Roy would find work. There were many days where we failed to see God’s plan in our lives, and there were days we felt a lack of hope. 

But God took care of us. 

When one of us was down, the other always seemed to have the stamina to pray and encourage. God sent so many people in our path who prayed with us, shared meals with us, cried with us, and just loved us. So many of our kids from our nine years at Milton Hershey School called, wrote, or visited, sometimes without even knowing our situation. Our family, of course, stood beside us through it all. Our church pastors and staff, and many friends from within our church became a family to us in a way we can’t even begin to share. Roy and I could only give God glory for using so many people to show us His love. 

This verse is a true reflection of what we’ve tried to live up to. When times of misfortune come our way, we will still give God praise. God used that time to refine us. 

Our full dependence on God was all we had. And once we completely surrendered ourselves to Him, He began to work in mighty ways. We knew He allowed us to be stripped of everything we found comfort in so that we could find comfort only in Him. 

It’s amazing to me how this song has become our life song. In some of our darkest moments our phone would ring, an offertory would be played, and my three year old daughter, as loud as possible, would sing:

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!

“Healing rain comes with fire, so let it fall and make us higher. 

Michael W. Smith

How Great is He?

On July 31st, 2007 (Exactly 6 months after our final day at Milton Hershey School), Roy had a job interview with Northwest Human Services. On August 1st, he spoke at a diversity conference at a local college (sharing his group dynamics and bullying training). On August 2nd he was offered a job as a supervisor of therapeutic foster care in Harrisburg, specifically in charge of recruiting, training, and retraining foster care parents and case workers. That same day he was asked to be a keynote speaker at a bullying conference in the area because of the response from his training the day before. On August 5th, we signed a contract to buy our first home. On August 6th, Roy began working. 

In 6 months time, God was often quiet when we pleaded for direction. At times we thought He was taking us to places as far away as Utah and Georgia (which he would someday do), but every “perfect” door was slammed shut, and we were left waiting. We knew it meant He had something better, and though at times we couldn’t imagine it, we knew we had to have faith in that. Within ONE WEEK, He gave us ‘the desires of our heart’ and allowed us to stay in what had become home for our family. This only tells bits and pieces of our journey, and there are so many other amazing ways He has proven Himself to us. His faithfulness in our lives is something beyond comprehension, and we often are in awe of what He has done and how our number one prayer was answered….

We can only give Him the Glory.

Karen Baldwin

Remembering Leaves

I’ve been in a strange place in my life since moving to Nebraska…for years I’ve longed for such ‘time’ in my life. It’s one of rest. I’ve had moments available to me in the past. Every time we’ve moved, I’ve found myself with a lot of time on my hands and often without a specific purpose… at least as the world sees… and often, as I believed myself. Busyness has always kept me from feeling useless or like I’m wasting my life. Honestly, I feared being alone and bored…and I would carry guilt, which would spiral into depression because of ‘not doing important things’. I’d feel guilty that being a wife and mom wasn’t fulfilling enough. 

But these days I find myself spending much of my day seeking God in His Word. In the world’s eyes, I’m sure this is time wasted. But I’m finding myself in awe of the depth of who He is in the midst of stories and passages that have been ‘familiar’ to me much of my life.

The Bible has become ‘alive and active’… And I’m learning that it’s not about checking off the to-do list that religion has so often taught me about getting to the destination,  but enjoying the journey and process that will get me there.

In the back of my journal are these Monadnock leaves…I have had them in this empty journal since October of 2014, when I first visited MBC. I took them home for my kids, as a symbol of God’s faithfulness in the unknown journey ahead of us. Today, over 6 years later, they are here as a reminder of that journey God led us on. In the midst of it, I chose the busyness of ministry over the journey itself. There were glimpses and moments that stretched my faith and grew me in the most profound ways. It was time…not wasted, but preparing me for this time of rest and reflection. I’m so thankful for seasons…literally and spiritually…these leaves remind me of the beauty of New England falls, of our camp journey and the thousands I got to journey with…of the ‘death’ that must come for Life to be renewed and to flourish…of God’s promises to us and the walk he so graciously waits for us to join Him on.

I’m so very thankful for the reminders today of His love, faithfulness, goodness and companionship He provides every single day. I’m beyond thankful for those that he brought along the path, that I could love and journey with through the good and the tough. And above all, I’m thankful today for this season of rest, reflection and intimacy with the Lord of my Life.❤️ This may be my finest season yet! But I know it is preparing me for what’s next. And I can’t wait to see what that might be!❤️🙏🏼❤️

Karen Baldwin

Forgetting the “What Ifs”

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,

but of power, love, and self-discipline.

1 Timothy 1:7 NLT

My high school piano teacher gave me her own bracelet to wear every time I had to perform in a recital. This verse was inscribed inside…it often helped in the moment, though honestly, my fear of playing in front of people to this day inhibits me from using the gift I once spent hours to perfect. The problem was I really wasn’t good enough, like all others seemed to be, to put myself in the category of a college music major…say less one with a degree in it! I’ve had many ‘what if’ moments in the past 31 years…what if I had not feared so much…I could’ve been a music teacher…I could’ve taught private lessons and lived by my own schedule…I could’ve easily found work wherever we moved…my kids might have not feared so much.…

Today I choose to let go of the ‘what if’s’ and the questions that, quite honestly, leave the fear right there in my mind and keep me from pursuing what is right in front of me.

‘Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself’ Matthew 6:24

The older I get, the more I realize that God has given me many incredible experiences in my life that would’ve never happened had I been a music teacher.  Those experiences were not because I thought I could, but because HE KNEW I could…None of it is a mistake in my mind, but His path took me on a really windy, rugged, narrow…and often uphill road.  But as I get higher and higher, closer to the top of my mountain, I can now look back and see the beauty in the fields I have walked…and of all the things I see, it’s the beauty in the wildflowers that I’ve encountered along the way…it seems like an unending field of diversity and beauty…and the vibrancy and colors have not faded, but instead have only grown brighter and more beautiful with time. My regrets all of a sudden become small, and the fears are released. And I just thank God for giving me the fields and valleys of beauty in my life. And the music is there! It so vividly adds to the artwork I see. Today I will just bask in the music and sing right along. It’s an everyday experience for me, and it brings a certain comfort, peace and joy.

As for today, I think I’ll just thank God for the gift…the true love for music, how he has used it in my life, and those I’ve had the pleasure to share it with all these years…including my neighbors, who I’m sure have heard it…