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Tindell Baldwin »

Oh the brokenness that creeps into our soul without our knowing, it pours into relationships, alters our perception, and leaves us searching. This hole, this ache, this need to be filled but by what? We have all experienced the back lash of someone else’s brokenness that has left us hurting. We think they might be the one to fill us, define us, or possibly save us from ourselves. The truth is when broken people try to fix each other’s brokenness we just make a mess of the whole thing. We need a Savior, someone who needs nothing from us but gives us everything in return.

You and I we were born with a heart condition, a hole, a broken piece that needed mending so we wandered. From friend to friend or boyfriend to boyfriend or thing to thing begging someone or something to make us whole and give us life. It’s why we suck the life out of people we love, suck our bank accounts dry, or search for happiness at the bottom of a bottle.  Doesn’t matter what your family life was like, how many friends you have, or who you are dating without the healer our wounds just gape. Our solutions are bandages and we have  lots of them, like mummies hiding a corpse, but God is offering the ointment. Perfect and healing he offers us something the world only pretends to have, life.

“The Lord is my portion”, says my soul, Therefore I will hope in him” lamentations 3:24

There it is the recognizing of the need and the answer to our souls desperate search. So I can stop expecting other things or people to fill my void. I can have grace for others brokenness because I know I have it too and when people fail me I can understand that brokenness causes broken people. So we let grace run wild and praise the Lord he came this very time of year to give us an ointment for our wound. We recognize that life is given by the one who is whole not the ones who are shattered.

That feeling of being passed over, like prayers around you are heard and answered but your own fall on deaf ears. The wondering you feel every time you see a family that is hurting or a child that is alone. The pain that comes with the every days that don’t make you feel grateful but confused, things you once understood now seem muddled and the faith you once held so dear now seems childish. Oh how life has a way of beating us down. How it tries to rob our hearts of what we know to be true. How I can doubt something I would once give my life for when circumstances cloud my judgment.

I was reminded once again how personal my God is when I read Luke 7. John the Baptist had been in prison and I can only imagine sent up many a prayer on cold nights not to a distant God but to the Savior he had told others about, the one he knew, the one he himself baptized. But just like our lives can feel like prison walls that suffocate our faith John questioned. He sent messengers to ask the Jesus, as he was about to give his life, if he had been right (luke 7:18-22). Maybe he wanted to know he had not been forgotten or maybe he just  wanted Jesus to confirm what John already knew, that this was the lamb of God the one who had come to take away the sins of the world.

Jesus had been performing miracles while John sat in a cell, he seemed to have forgotten about his faithful servant waiting for death.  Jesus didn’t really answer he just sent the messengers back to john saying “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (luke 7:23).

I think Jesus in others can be our stumbling block, or maybe he just doesn’t meet our expectations. We wanted more of a magical king who would sweep in and make everyone ok instead of a humble servant who asks us to take the hard road for his glory. Understanding isn’t ours to fully grasp but as my sister in law reminded me yesterday, we all have different learning styles and God caters to each of those. If I believe that God is who he says he is then I believe that he is worth whatever painful road it takes to acknowledge our need for him.  We have not been passed over or forgotten. Our prayers have not fallen on deaf ears. They have fallen on the ears of a God who does not deal with us according to our sin, shows great compassion on us, and loves us with an everlasting love (psalms 103). I want that Gods ears attune to the hurt of the world and ill trust him when he seems silent.

I was reading Claire her favorite book this morning (the hungry caterpillar) and the last page says the caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly. I closed the book and whispered to Claire, really without thinking, that this is what God has done for us.  I stared at the butterfly and realized we all get made new, our slate is cleaned, our debt is paid, we’re new.

The shame that covered our yesterdays is gone. I can write passionately about this because I know what it feels to have shame hurled at you. I know what freedom granted by my Savior feels like but I have also heard the lie so loud it hurts, “but you have such a past, remember what you used to do.”

So what do when we feel such guilt, such shame, such pain that relates to our past? How do we move forward into today and tomorrow actually believing we have been made new?

Here’s the thing about shame, its crippling. It makes us feel like we aren’t worth God’s love and forgiveness.  If you and I believe that we aren’t good enough for God we will never move forward into what he has for us. We will stay in our pity party of past sin and work really hard to forgive ourselves with no avail. I can say this with both confidence and freedom, we will never be good enough for God. He makes us good, new, and clean. Not us.  Shame doesn’t just tell me I have a past it tells me its up to me to make up for that. Shames says that past sin makes me unfit for God’s kingdom but Jesus says it is finished and my redemption makes me a perfect fit.

Shame isn’t your story. Guilt isn’t your story and working really hard to make yourself look better won’t do anything but exhaust you. The only one that can clear our rebellion and wipe our slate clean is the one who was clean. We all have a past. We all were messed up and some of us you could tell by looking at their life (me) but some hid it better. Either way we had a heart condition that needed fixing. Jesus came, we either accept that he saves us or we don’t, and we move forward.

So what do we do? When the voice of our past is screaming into our ears as we commit to move forward? We believe the one who wiped us clean and said there is no condemnation (romans 8) we believe him when he says we are dearly loved (Colossians 3:12) and we trust him when he says we are cleared of our sin (psalm 32).

I talked to a sweet girl last night who is moving into a new life and I sent her this verse reminding her that she will be reminded of who she used to be but she has a choice to go back. You get a choice to trust Gods truth and you get to choose to be who says you are not who you were yesterday.

“Oh what Joy for those who rebellion has been FORGIVEN whose sin is put OUT OF SIGHT! Yes what JOY for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty.”Psalm 32:1-2


  • Blythe morocco - Hi tindell!
    I am a senior at buckhead church and have been going to IO for as long as I can remember. A couple months ago I walked into Barnes and noble looking for a good book to read- which is odd because I am not really a reader. I picked up your book when I saw the ironic title and opened to the first page. I sat down and began to read. I think I spent an hour in the store before I knew I had to buy the book. I picked 6 off the shelf and have them to all my friends. I’ve marked highlighted and re read parts of your book over and over again. Everything is so genuine. By god grace, I have never realtalk taped in to the part scene (thank god for small group leaders and Jamey dickens) but I often wondered what the point of it all was. You’re testimony- it did that. Your book filled the gaps and questions I had been wondering about. I think I scared my mom as I screamed when I found out on twitter you would be speaking at IO!! Your video was just as inspiring as your story and I know it’s not a quincidence that these chain of events take place. Reading this blog is awesome and I will be sharing this in Thursday morning bible studies with girls at my high school. For my FCA speech, I think I quoted your entire book. Thanks for having the courage to write it down. I hope you realize how much of an effect you are having on teenage girls. We were thirsting for this kind of story- one written down to refer to. One of hope, joy, and honest truth about the battles in life. I can not thank you enough. So excited for your posts!
    With much thanks,
    Blythe moroccoReplyCancel

  • Anna Etheriedge - Loved this! Beautifully said. My husband and I came to see you at NP’s Insideout, with our precious recovering addict. We all thought the video was excellent! I stayed for the question/answer with the girls- Well done!!! I hope they did a video feed of that part as well. I especially loved that your brother sang and when your husband came on stage with your baby girl afterward. What a super ending to your talk. All those girls could see just how God redeems us in amazing ways. You’re making a difference to so many. -Anna
    PS-Your baby is precious!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lesley - Hi Tindell! I found you through Twitter and I’ve hopped on your blog once a few months ago. I just stopped back in tonight and wanted to thank you for this post. I love the Hungry Caterpillar (it’s a favorite with our 2 year old!) but I’ve never thought about how redemptive the ending is. By chance, I also blogged about shame today. Shame is not an emotion I normally feel, but since becoming a mother it has crept in more and more. So happy we have Jesus’ eternal promise to make us new again. Anyway, nice to “meet” you. Lovely blog! Added your book to my Amazon wish list.ReplyCancel

  • Bits + Pieces | One Passion One Devotion - […] Why Shame isn’t your Story… and the hungry caterpillar by Tindell Baldwin […]ReplyCancel

I want to enjoy life not hurry through it. I don’t want my calendar to be so full that there isn’t time to sit around and laugh with friends and spend hours talking on the porch with my husband. I want margin. I don’t want one thing to take precedent over the other. I want family to be a priority. I want the investments I make here to be relational not monetary. I don’t want to wish away today because I’m so focused on what tomorrow could bring. I don’t want to consider hard work punishment but let God use it as a tool to mold me. I want to worship God for the presence he plays in my every days not merely as a figure or a past relic. I want to support our neighbors, friends, and family. I don’t want to be too busy to have conversations that could change everything or nothing. I want to spend time finding the good in others instead of assuming the bad. I want to live with intentionality so today doesn’t just fade into tomorrow.


I am only speaking for me but I imagine it will take slowing down. I imagine it involves not telling people I’m busy when they ask how I am because let’s be honest that just shuts them down to asking for encouragement, help, or just a friend.  I’ll say no so that I can say yes to what I know I’ve been called to. I’ll say no so that I can commit to saying yes faithfully to my family, my calling, and Gods tasks for my life. I’ll say no because not every opportunity that comes across our inbox requires a yes.

The way my life is running now when will I have time? Time to do life well. A friend of mine was telling me she just didn’t know if she had the capacity for lots of kids and crazy life. I think that’s because the standard we have set for ourselves only works if you’re a crazy insomniac with multi-tasking abilities.

I know I use my mom as an example a lot but she set such an amazing example growing up. She wasn’t room mom, she didn’t run for president of our PTA, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t bake homemade treats for my kindergarten class (I have zero scars from this). She did however get up every morning before us and make breakfast. She was at the bus stop when we got home and she tucked us in most nights and I never got the message that her business was anything more than life (and she very much had one).

I look down the road and I keep thinking if I want the life I believe God has called me too something has to give.  I read somewhere that “Busyness is not the equivalent of holiness” and I want to add that it doesn’t always produce a full life.  I want to be known for loving my family, friends, and neighbors well and right now and I think that takes intentionality not busyness.

  • Madison Briggs - Tindell, thank you so much for sharing! This really convicted me about my commitments!! I will be praying about “saying no” to some things that may need to be cut out of my life in order for the focus on God, family and school to be priority! Always love your posts 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Anna - Thanks Tindell, I feel so much better! 🙂ReplyCancel


Girls scare me.

OK its out there now we can move on.

I grew up with three brothers, my mom never owned anything with a monogram, and I pulled the head off all my barbies. I was not a girly girl. In fact most days I got hosed off after playing in the mud with my brothers (this did end as middle school approached). I know what you’re thinking, “didn’t you write a book for teenage girls?”

Good question. They don’t scare me. You know why? Because their acceptance of me says nothing about who I am. They aren’t my peers and while I love them if they don’t like me I can still sleep at night. But woman I respect… that’s a fear that rivals the deep blue sea (jaws forever changed me).

So when Jennie Allen asked me to be apart of the IF gathering event in Austin to talk about the future of IF with about 50 woman I respect my initial thought was first, “OMG Jennie Allen emailed me” (if you don’t know who she is you’re missing out)   and second “I can’t do this”.  Despite my best attempts to find reasons not to go my husband urged me that this would be something i’d remember for a long time to come. So I went and I realized that what she is trying to do can really help woman like me.

Here’s the thing, I think we take one of two routes when it comes to relationship with other woman, we compete with them or we act like we don’t need them. I can’t compete because i’m 26 and spend my days changing diapers, not the world, so I just pretend I can do life on my own. I went into Austin with the same mind set. I figured because I wrote one book for teens I didnt have anything to add and not only that but no one would want to listen. So I spent two days letting Satan whisper lies into my ears about how we had nothing in common and I didn’t belong. I wish I could tell you he didn’t win. I wish I could tell you I didn’t spend two days doubting myself, my calling, and that God even loved me. That would be a lie though and Jennie asked us to share about our experience.

So why am I sharing this?

Because I don’t think i’m the only one. I don’t think I’m alone in believing big lies about how other woman view us and this is the exact reason Jennie wants to start IF. Because IF God is real (and I believe he is) then what…. then we change. We change how we interact with each other and we don’t let the enemy use other woman as pawns in our internal demise. I need this, not because I  want another conference to put on my resume, but because woman in church need to have life breathed back into them and not by Jennie Allen but by a  real God who believes he can accomplish things through them.

I believe God isn’t done with any of us despite our insecurities, fears, and all too often self loathing. I’m glad some other woman think the same thing.

If you have no idea who Jennie Allen is or what the IF gathering is you can find out more here…

You don’t wanna miss this.

I never noticed until this morning that the end of gratitude looks a lot like attitude (only figured it out after I googled how to spell gratitude). I decided in attempt to be increasingly thankful instead of increasingly overwhelmed I’d change my chalkboard from the same verse that’s been up there for 3 months to a list of gifts. After a morning with the dog barking, baby crying, mountains of laundry piling into the hallways, a nail polish explosion that I just didn’t have the energy to clean up it became a necessity. I thought to myself surely there is a better way to live.

Because sometimes the tensions are too much between writing, mothering, wifeing (yes I made that word up) and a house that does not clean itself despite my best attempts to annoy apple that in fact there isn’t an app for everything.  Sometimes I want to throw my hands in the hair, curl up in a ball on the floor and say “I am not enough woman for this”  (hasn’t happened yet but I think the countdown is on).

Then I realize…

Attitude…. (noun) “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.”

The fact that attitude is a noun confirms my suspicion that there is in fact an extra person lurking around my house stealing joy. Then I realize it’s me. I have settled into a way of thinking that life is too much, that stress will be my days, and that business is a higher achievement than holiness.

Then I read this…

Romans 12:1-3 message

“1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace”

As I read the words freedom rushes over me because I am only required to bring God my life. He doesn’t want my performance, he doesn’t care if my house is sparkly clean, or decorated like pottery barn (although I’d like it). He just wants my life to point back to him. So my goal shifts from trying to work for God to knowing God. Letting him move and mold me into the woman who not only can handle it but shines his light while doing it.

My mom was great at this. I don’t remember a chaotic house and we didn’t do a lot of Jesus crafts (mostly we played outside and with big boxes we found) but you know what I remember. I remember her calm spirit when I’d come home from school crying. I remember the house not being perfect and that being ok because we were being kids and everyone knows those pottery barn catalogues don’t have life in them. We laughed a lot, we ate junk food every now and again (which I think now is a punishable offense) and my mom shined Jesus brighter than any woman I know. I want to shine Jesus in my house and I think that begins with my attitude.


  • Katara - I love it! Thanks for the reminder. “Pottery Barn catalogues don’t have life in them….” amen!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Tara - Beautiful, Tindell! I needed the reminder that God is more after my heart than my performance. Thank you.

    Blessings and love in Christ,
    – TaraReplyCancel

Breakdowns seem to make for the best writing days. It’s only after a good cry on the phone with my mom that the words come pouring out. In the brokenness of life I seem to find my voice. It was why I began writing in the first place; to share my brokenness with a world that thinks finding Jesus happens after the mess has been cleared.

It doesn’t.

It’s on the days when I literally cry out to God that he meets me, not on the days when I can manage it all. There is something so beautiful about the mess, about the days that knock the breath right out of me and replace it with something real, something full; need.

I need God on the days when my human capacity meets full and I can’t find another ounce of me to give. I need God when my emotions fly before I can rein them in. It isn’t always pretty and I don’t always handle it well but after a few tears that rub my pride raw I find what I really needed all along was to come to the end of me.

This isn’t just for the addicts and the prostitutes or the clear cut sinners, this desperate need comes from the condition of being human not from the circumstance we are currently wound up in. I left a sinful lifestyle to enter into his arms but my need for a Savior has yet to diminish.

It is In the mess where real relationship are built, in the untidy spaces where I can’t pretend any more.  I can’t help but shake this idea that if mess isn’t happening then relationship isn’t happening because we are by nature a mess of being. Running from God, saying spiteful words, loving ourselves above all else and that’s just my list. I don’t know one person who has left this world unscathed by the hurt inflicted upon them or by them. It’s a fact of life, we’ve screwed so much up and we pay a lot of times for things we never bought.

I think for a long time after I met Jesus I believed the lie that because I knew Jesus I needed to have my act together. Then the waves of life still came and beat me back to my knees where it all started and I was once again reminded that in the mess I am met. It’s the mess that brings me to the end of my performance or capacity to pretend.

What I wanted was a band aid but Jesus came to be the medicine not the covering for our wounds. He came to expose and bring healing to them in a way only he can do. The air of his mercy breathes life into our broken wounded parts and I am so grateful he isn’t a band aid.

Ann Voskamp has taught me in her writing to name gifts. Today I am thankful for breakdowns, tears, and days when I realize my absolute need for God.

  • Rich - Amen, and Amen. Been there, done that, and still doing that.

    Your words are right on target and demonstrate that our dependence on Christ does not end with faith, but continues every minute, every day. Blessings on your continued walk of faith.

  • Tara - Tindell, I so agree with you and this is something the Lord has been teaching me too. This year has been filled with a lot of ups and downs and I have seen the unfailing, unwavering love of God in the midst of my mess and failures. Thank you for writing with honesty and truth.
    God bless!ReplyCancel


When I was growing up my family used to say it would take a special man to marry me, and not in because you’re so awesome kind of way but more like who is going to tame black beauty kind of way. Don’t get me wrong my family was loving and supportive and all that stuff but facts are facts and I was a force to be reckoned with. (see picture for confirmation)

I always pictured I’d marry someone who would put a firm foot down and tell me it was there way or the high way. I pictured I’d marry someone slightly unforgiving who would tighten the reigns when necessary (really romantic isn’t it). I figured the only kind of person who could “handle me” was someone who was stronger than me. That’s true, but strength isn’t always what we picture. God knew I didn’t need another man to walk into my life and demand change in return for love he knew what I needed was the kind of guy who would love me to freedom. Freedom from pretending I had to be strong, freedom from never acting hurt, and freedom from thinking love and pain were one in the same.

Enter Ben.

This man who caught me so off guard I cried after our first date (true story). I was so scared he was going to hurt me. I was so scared I would let myself show just the tiniest bit and he’d run like all the others.

A girl asked me recently how I knew my husband could handle my “baggage”, how I knew he wouldn’t run and it was simple. The right guy doesn’t run. Don’t get me wrong there were times he was afraid but he stayed and I have never experienced Jesus more than I have in the love of my husband.  Jesus was so many things but I always loved that he won sinful people over by loving and serving them.


I am so thankful God knows me better than I know myself and I am so glad he made Ben strong enough to weather the storm with me.  Four years ago I walked down the aisle to the man who would walk through life with me, be the father to our kids, and show me a little more about God every day. The man who would serve our family, work hard for our family, and do it all with a compassionate calming love that can change everything.

Thank you babe for wrecking what I ever thought I knew about love, for championing me in my dreams, for loving me even when I fall utterly short, and for making me laugh every day. You are truly my better half.


  • anna Etheriedge - It’s so wonderful how God matches us up!!!!
    Happy AnniversaryReplyCancel

  • Linda Morris - Tindell I love the picture with Barbara…..I remember the day you were born….God had a plan for your life and I’m glad you found it with Ben. I just celebrated my 50th anniversary and I can tell you “it only gets better”! HaPpy AnnivesaryReplyCancel

  • Beth Joubert - Tindell, love this post about your sweet Ben! Rene and I celebrated our 25th anniversary on Sept 10th!
    Love y’all,
    p.s. Passed your book on to friends and family. Thanks for being so honest. You’re a blessing!ReplyCancel

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