Tindell Baldwin »

Yesterday I just felt lost, in my own house with my own day, I knew where I was and I knew what I was supposed to do but Claire cried most of the day, my inbox was full, laundry was overwhelming me, and I needed to somehow make it to the store with a child who was screaming “mama” at me if I moved inches away from her. It was just one of those Mondays. It was particularly bad, nothing life altering happened, it’s just that life happened, and I was being semi selfish ok full on selfish, and I wanted to accomplish things and do thinks and go places and I was wandering.

I think we have all been there, on those terribly ordinary days when we don’t exactly feel like our world is crashing in but we feel like we are wandering through the dessert and we need either Jesus or a great babysitter to save us.  Mondays seem to come and life seems to hit me in the face harder than I expected. Its not bad, its not even particularly stressful its just life. Its ordinary and I have to choose joy instead of the negativity that is overwhelming my brain.

In the few moments I had after an altered 6:45 instead of 7 bedtime in an effort to save my sanity I read this.

14-18 “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd.

I saw this and two things came to mind, man how much I needed to be led, and how I needed to take up the full meaning of “sacrificing myself if necessary”. In motherhood I have noticed a trend I get angry when I feel like I am being asked (which never happens because 7 month olds don’t ask if you can handle them) to do beyond what I can. I get mad at God, I get mad at my husband, and I get mad because I shouldn’t be mad. I am blessed with this life and I truly believe that but some days are just hard.

Then he whispers, let me lead you.

No. I can do this. More anger followed by frustration.

And he whispers again, Let me lead you.


Finally it’s the end of the day and I see that I need to be led, I need him to take my hand and lead back into his ways because I might be a mother but I am not God (the two are often confused) and I can’t help my daughter without his guiding hand, I can’t have the patience I need to have, I can’t have the energy or the strength without him leading me to greener pastures. To pastures where I’m not frustrated that she won’t nap and I couldn’t get anything done. Pastures where I realize the mound of laundry is not an actual tragedy. Pastures where I see that this is all really a gift and my complaining won’t help anything. A pasture where I realize if Jesus could sacrifice for his children I can sacrifice for mine.

We all get there. It might not be motherhood, it might be with your job, or your spouse, or just a friendship gone awry because you wandered from him and now you need to be led back.

He calls us by name, he knows where we have strayed too and he takes us back to him because at the end of all my striving to be ahead of the flock I realize when he said I can’t do anything apart from him he meant that very literally.

  • Anna Etheriedge - I loved this! It SO reminded me of raising my kids. Very long on moments and short on years! I’ve repeatedly told my children “you die to yourself when they get married and again with each child”… but its the best thing you can do to your flesh 🙂 Isn’t motherhood/fatherhood just full of lessons?! So glad we did it, I know you are too- AnnaReplyCancel

hes just not that into you1 Corinthians 1:26

The Message (MSG)

26-31 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

We are all called to something, for me I was called when the wounds were still very real from my past. I remember thinking, God you have to be crazy I haven’t even been sober very long. I was 20. I remember though, I remember his voice saying “I can use this for my glory”. When I was 20 it was easy I knew how much I needed God but then I started thinking I had it together, I could play the part, I knew enough scripture, knew how to act, and it started becoming really fake. Looking back I see that I really thought God wanted me to perform, like a dancing monkey he had just hired and him and I were doing ok if I could keep up with the music. For a while I danced and I smiled and he was my master, not my father.

Then life got really hard, personal tragedy threatened to rip apart my perfect world and I couldn’t perform. I was all danced out and when I sat down and cried out to God I realized he was never the one asking me to dance. He was asking me to draw near, learn, come and sit. He wanted it to be personal. So I got angry, asked the tough questions and we started forming a relationship like we had when he first redeemed me. He started calling me, asking me, telling me, it was time. So I wrote and I answered and he was faithful and here I am.

I am back in the place where I want to perform, I want to say the right things and act the right way instead of being real.  I start wanting to lead out of ability instead of brokenness and when I lead with my ability I am performing. See I have nothing, I am nothing, I am a broken down human who needs a perfect God to save me every day and when I start to believe differently I am lying to myself and God. The only ability I have comes from Christ and the only success I have had in life is from him.

I think when we start to forget this, when we start to forget how much we truly need saving we are in dangerous territory. No matter where you are coming from the story for you and I is the same, we both needed the cross. God doesn’t use a sin scale to define our lives he looks at our broken world and says “you need me” and no one is exempt from that “you.” I don’t care how many prayer groups you have led, how many hours you have spent volunteering, or how many Christian books you have read you still need him every day because knowledge doesn’t change condition. My mom has been sick for a long time and she knows a lot about health and medicine and doctors but she is still sick, because knowledge doesn’t change a condition.

Our condition is the same every day until we head to heaven, I am a sinner and I need a savior and the best thing I can do every day is wake up and remember that because that changes everything. I no longer think I can be the perfect mom, I need Gods help. I can’t be the wife I’m called to be, I need Gods help and I can’t write words about him, I need to know him.

So let’s all stop dancing ourselves to exhaustion because I think if we were really real we are doing it more for each other than him anyway.


  • Jan Fowler - Tindell, it was so nice meeting you on Sunday. I love reading your blog and I know God has “BIG” plans for your life! I know he will use your journey and authenticity for His glory.
    Keep sharing!
    Jan FowlerReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Thank you jan it was so wonderful to meet you as well! Thank you encouraging me!!!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - I received a complimentary copy of your book for review purposes and really enjoyed it. I thought you might be encouraged to read my 13 year old’s review as well. Our “Mother-Daughter Review” is posted here: http://whatwordscannotexpress.weebly.com/13/post/2013/07/mother-daughter-review-of-popular-by-tindell-baldwin.htmlReplyCancel

  • Renee Parris - I just discovered your blog and am very excited about your new book. I love your heart. Your message resonates with so many of the teen girls that I mentor. I have shared your facebook page in hopes of leading other teens to your page and blog. Blessings to you for following your heart and listening to the still small voice over the other loud voices around you.ReplyCancel

ceremony-136I really like the word redeemed, like a lot. I throw it around and when I talk about who I used to be I always talk about being redeemed, then I realized this morning I don’t know the actual definition, so I looked it up.

Redeem: To compensate for the faults or bad aspects of something or someone

Now I like it even more. It’s what God does for all of us, falling short doesn’t begin to describe the performance I try to put on some days. I have all the right answers and I know the right scriptures but my heart is unclean. I am prideful, mean, and selfish. I am human. I am coming to terms with this, that my humanness will always be my stumbling block that I will get more in the way of the mission than I will help it. That’s where the redeeming comes in.

To compensate for the faults or bad aspects of something, redeemed. We all need redeeming our performances will never live up to the standard by which we are called. I will make mistakes and be snippy when I should be patient, speak when I should hold my tongue, and so on and so forth.

This is only discouraging if I forget the redeeming part.

People keep asking me what I want girls to hear from my book, what message do I want to send, what do I want them to read in my pages?

It’s not about a good story or wanting to have a book with my name on it. What I really pray, what I hope for with all my heart is that they will see redemption in the pages. I pray that when they look at whatever mess their humanness has gotten them into they will see a God who can compensate for their faults. We all need to know this, fall where it may, we need to know that our shortcomings won’t affect our relationship with Jesus. I need to know that when I don’t live up to the holy standard (which I never do) that he will step in and redeem it.

He always does.

I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant. O Israel, I’ll never forget you. I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings. There’s nothing left of your sins. Come back to me, come back. I’ve redeemed you.

Isaiah 44:21-22 (message)

And I can breathe again because its there in the words, come back to me, come back. I’ve redeemed you. Each day he beckons me back, no matter where I was yesterday he has redeemed me. No matter what mistakes I have made, he has redeemed me, no matter what kind of mess I have managed he has redeemed me.

I pray you get the same message today, I pray you hear him whisper “come back. I have redeemed you.”

  • Becky Combs - Your story points to Christ..very proud of you & your courage!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Your story points us to Christ. Appreciate your courage & transparency!ReplyCancel

  • Anna Etheriedge - I want to be able to “like” your posts, but don’t see a way- maybe you did that on purpose 🙂 Either way I really liked this! AnnaReplyCancel

  • Tara - This makes me smile. 🙂 Thanks!

    – TaraReplyCancel

  • Emily - Wow, that’s amazing…you’re very blessed! – EmilyReplyCancel

  • Montana - I tweeted about your book last night and you replied. I just wanted to respond by saying that you have no idea how much you’ve helped me. This book is giving me courage to step back into God’s arms after doing nothing but running from Him for the past year and a half. Then I found your blog today and read this entry. I honestly feel like God is speaking directly through you to me. I can already tell this is going to be a difficult journey back but you have given me the first push that I needed. You haven’t the slightest idea how grateful I am to you. I can’t wait to be back at Passion City on Sunday 😉ReplyCancel

I remember this dream I had, it was right after I read Blue Like Jazz, I wanted to write. I loved reading, loved writing my thoughts, and loved hearing that my words meant something. To me it was something I could do to bless others, I tend to fumble over words when I’m talking but when I write I have this blank page and the backspace key and I don’t have to see your face snarl when I’m “too honest” (always been a problem).

Then I went to college and people kept telling me to pick a major and get a job, be someone in the world, people told me I could be a leader, be a business woman, be recognized but I wanted to put words to a page. I wanted to spend my days in coffee shops not big meetings. When people asked what my dream was (a question that’s stops being asked when you get to real life) I said, I want to write. People turned up there nose. What do you want to write? Do you know how hard it is to be published?

I did, So I quit. I pursued a more practical dream of being in PR and Communication, or anywhere where my ability to talk to a wall would serve me instead of hinder me. The dreams stayed though and throughout the random jobs I had (where I was mostly miserable) I would imagine what it would be like to really do the thing God had laid on my heart.

When I finally caved in it was only because I couldn’t find a job and if I watched anymore episodes of Friends I was going to believe I was really one of them. I started writing my story, not because I wanted to write a book (which was the only thing I always said I’d NEVER do) but because God told me to and because someone once told me that if you want to see God’s faithfulness write down your story. I did and along the way I saw his faithfulness and his love and I realized God placed a dream in my heart because he knew it’s how I could glorify him.

When I finished the book and started having conversations about it I realized there was a need for girls to see the real side of sin, the side that you don’t see on TV or in Cosmo, the side that doesn’t need a checklist of “ten things to make you happy” but the side that needs a real holy God to lift you out of your own mess. I decided to publish, not traditionally, just on amazon for free to have as a resource. God had other plans and a year later I was meeting with publishers and asking myself.. how did I get here?

How did I go from the girl in the apartment in Texas with no better way to see God than to write down her messy past to getting to live out my dreams? I got to because when we dream with God we get to do things we never planned on. When we dream with God we get to take the things he has placed in us and live them out.

The publishing process was not easy, I had a lot of people tell me that “teens don’t read books”, “you don’t have a platform”, and “you will never get published”. I would smile and nod because they were right. I don’t have a platform, I’m not anyone, and statistically teens don’t read books (twilight and hunger games aside) but I did get published, teens are reading the book, and I’m still no one.

Here’s why, God had a plan for teenagers to hear truth, God loves and cares about teenagers, and all I had to do was be obedient.  I really believed when God whispered to me, “I want to use your broken past to show young girls my love”.  I knew he didn’t need me but I knew he was inviting me, there is a lot people with a messy past, a lot of writers, better writers, a lot of people with platforms and connections to do what I’m doing but the invitation was for me. I knew I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to watch his love being poured on a generation of girls who barely know what the word love means.  He still doesn’t need me he just lets me get to see his glory and love capture girls hearts.  He invites me to dream with him and when I do I am always awed by just how small my dreams are compared to his.

I have had a few people tell me recently they want to write but the whole process is scary. I agree it is, but when we step into Gods calling for us a lot of times it is scary, its not ordinary, and people don’t understand and when I start to doubt I have to remind myself who I answer to at the end of the day.

I have to believe people thought Moses was weird when he went to go save the Israelite’s and I bet people told peter to leave the guy in the sandals and go back to casting his nets.  They faltered and they questioned but in the end they were obedience because when we truly taste and see what it is to be following the Lord no dream is too big when he is behind it.

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.(emphasis added)


  • Claire - Tindell,

    This is so good!! So much truth here! Thanks for sharing this (you know I can relate;)). It is so encouraging to see that these dreams and ideas He gives us can come to fruition with obedience. We know and are known by great God who lets us in on His glory. Trust and obey…


    • Tindell Baldwin - Love that you can relate Claire! Excited to see where God leads you!ReplyCancel

  • Anna Etheriedge - Tindell, Sorry to leave you yet another comment, but I’ve ordered more books… God keeps laying names on my heart of girls to send it too! This is such a blessing- to have something to give and then an opportunity to talk about what they’ve read. Thank youReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - Anna,
    Please don’t apologize for letting me know that the book is doing what I prayed it would do. 🙂 I am so glad it is being used how I intended, to speak truth into girls lives. Thank you for encouraging me!


  • Tara - I was beginning to think that my dream of just wanting to write and do life with others was silly. I was beginning to agree that I need to study for a “real” job in college… thank you for this, Tindell! Such a sweet reminder. 🙂

    – TaraReplyCancel

I told a girl in my cabin at our Student Ministry winter weekend that I thought there was a reason God referred to himself as father. I think (in my pea sized intellect) that God looked into what would become of the word “father”, and to the girls whose hearts would be crushed by the word, and he knew many girls  would need another father.

I have sat in many a cabin weeping with girls who just wanted to be loved by their daddy with little mention of their mother (not to say we arent important cause we are). Dads have this role that is irreplaceable in a woman’s life. They set the tone for their daughters and sadly research supports this. Most of us have seen the data. When fathers are absent teenage pregnancy, depression, and drug use goes up. In fact I have yet to watch an episode of 16 and pregnant (Yes I watch the show… read now judge later) where the dad is in the picture. I have yet to see a loving father and what is the number one thing the pregnant teen says on camera, “I want to give my child what I never had, a father, two parents”. So they try to make it work with a pre-pubescent boy who cares more about his brand of deodorant than he does about the mother of his child.

I can’t help but watch and ask God why father? Why call yourself the word that is associated with more pain, more heartache, more aches than any other word in the dictionary? He could have made up a new word. I’m pretty sure God has the power to make up words, I mean he created the heavens, so a new word would probably be pretty easy. I ask and I question and His answer to me is always seems the same, “they need at least one loving father” and I can see it, the heart hole that slowly starts to mend when I tell a little girl that her daddy on earth may have gotten it all wrong but her one in heaven never will. I can see the spark of interest when I refer to God not as a ruler but as a father, and I can see my own walls fall down when I picture God as my own father, laughing with me over one of our famous dates. It’s a big word; it’s a heavy word, with lots of meaning and baggage for lots of girls, and so only one God had enough love and grace to put the word back to its proper strength.  Only a generous God who cared about our sinful hearts could look into us and say, “I want to set this right… For her.”

I don’t know where father’s day lands for you. I don’t know if it’s a painful day with lots of bad memories, or if you will celebrate it with some great men, but no matter where you are the word father says a lot more about God than it does about the guy who screwed it up for you. The word father means He wanted to make it personal, He wanted to make you whole, and He wanted to give you such an absolute understanding of how much he loves you that He used the word with the most weight. Hear him when He says, “I am your father and I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

Stats can be found here http://www.fatherhood.org/media/consequences-of-father-absence-statistics

  • Tara - Wonderful work, Tindell! As I read this I thought about what my Sunday school teacher mentioned today, we tend to try and throw our ideas of ‘father’ at God as if He needs to measure up to our worldly standards, when we should do the opposite and be looking at our fathers to be more like God the Father (leaving room for them to fall and for us to extend grace of course). As a girl whose dad hasn’t been involved in her life, I know how difficult the road can be to try and see God as Father, but as you already said, there is a spark that starts when we realize He is our PERFECT Heavenly Father. SO much better. <3ReplyCancel

  • Anna Etheriedge - Beautifully said, I love your blog!ReplyCancel

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Remember, it seems like such a simple word, do this in remembrance of me, why was God always asking his people to remember. Remember my covenant, remember my provision, remember my words. But Why? Why do I need to remember? Why does he ask me to remember  his word, his promises, and his continual faithfulness? Because he knew we as humans are a forgetful people. We forget the good when the bad comes close. We forget promises when circumstances threaten to break us and we forget who asked us to remember when we can’t see past our own fingertips.  Jennie Allen said it perfectly in her Chase Study when she said, “he wants to assure us our faith is real through our memories of the times when it was undoubtedly real and through the promises of his word”.

I am asked to remember because when I remember it’s hard to doubt. When I remember I must praise him and when I remember my heart is set in the right place.

We have all had those times, times when we could almost reach out and grab God. Life isn’t always like that though; each day isn’t a church camp high that we can ride for a few days. Real life gets in the way. I have a hard time finding holiness in the laundry and God’s voice when I am singing the chorus of “Skin a ma rink” for the 17th time. Sure, there are moments when I am rocking my girl and she looks up at me and smiles that I feel Gods favor. Or times when I am having a challenging conversation with my husband that I can see why God picked this man for me, but when I remember I don’t need magical moments each day, I can look back and see his hand so clearly.

I went out to dinner with a friend this week and we both talked about how God rescued us from the pit we were in. We shared stories and at the end we looked at our lives and said “wow, look what God has done in us.” If our lives had continued how we were living we would not have been sitting at that table.  I shudder to think if God had not reached into my mess of a life and grabbed me right out of it. He did though and he still does. I still sin, I still get myself into messes, but at the end of the day he’s still the same God he was 6 years ago reaching into my mess and placing me in his holiness.

When I remember that I see so much that I might have missed. I see the friendships he provided, the family he knew I needed, and a real man to show me the others never really loved me.  I see that on the hard days, the ones filled with doubt and dread, the God is always faithful. Then I see that I don’t need him to prove himself because even though I don’t deserve it he has proven himself, again and again.

  • Anna Etheriedge - I just finished Popular in a little less than 4hours! I could not put it down -except to dry my eyes. Vulnerable, raw, so very honest, I ached with each emotion and loved the final message! You said to my children more than I could have put into words. I immediately dropped it into my 19 year old’s hands. Bless you Tindell for your willingness to share what so desperately needs to be shared to a hurting generation wounded by lies. God is faithful! There is hope! – Anna, mom of 6ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - Thank you so much Anna, that is a great reminder of why I am so honest and raw. I hope your daughter sees Jesus in it. Blessings to you and your family!ReplyCancel

I never quite understood how God could love me. I mean I’m human and I screw up… daily. I fail my husband and I get frustrated with my friends. I am not patient when I need to be, I don’t think before I speak, I forget scripture, and I can be harsh. I seem to be all the things God asks me not to be in the bible. I don’t have the quite spirit of a woman with inner beauty, in fact I think quiet would be the last word used in association with my name.

For a long time, and on really bad days, I feel like a failure to God. I can picture him in heaven chatting with the angels about his kids (i’m assuming that he has the same obsession with baby photos as I do) and I can hear him talking about me. The child that won’t stay out of the candy drawer, the one who is always into something messy, the one who doesn’t quite obey, the one with ADD too severe that a shiny object distracts. I never saw myself as the child God looked at with pride.

Then I had my own child.

She drools a lot, she spits up on me, by pediatric standards she has what you’d like to call a “weight problem” (I kid… she is perfectly healthy), but she is mine. She is my flesh and blood and even when her diaper can’t contain her lunch and we’ve had to leave our Memorial Day fun early because she’s fussy, I love her with every fiber of my being. I love her with this completely biased, in awe of her smile kind of love because she is my child. Do I get frustrated? Sure. Do I need a break every now and then? Of course but do I wish she was someone else besides  exactly who God made her? Never.

In becoming a parent I realized that God loves me because he created me, every messy part of me. I’d like to believe he thinks my ability to knock over everything in sight without trying is funny and my love of cotton candy at age 26 is endearing (my husband doesn’t agree).  I can now look at my own child with tears welling up at her goofy little laugh and hear my heavenly father whisper, “I have loved you with an everlasting love”.  I can find peace in knowing he doesn’t wish I was someone else, he doesn’t wish I would be more like his other children because then I wouldn’t be me. It’s freeing. I have permission to be exactly who he created me to be and be confident that he loves me even when I fail, fall short, and am utterly human because at the end of the day….. I’m still his.

  • Brooke Ventimiglia - Wow. Powerful words of encouragement as I relate to your words. Thank you so much.


  • Mary Ann Laverty - Hi Tindell. I am a friend of your mom’s from college and I love reading your blog. My girls are now 14 and 18, and I find myself reminiscing about their baby days (no back talk!). I love the way you look at things as they are and still see God, even through the mess. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Can’t wait to read your book!ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Thank you Mary Ann! Love hearing that people can be encouraged through what God is teaching me! I know when the baby days are gone I will miss them. There is beauty in your children not being about to talk back to you 🙂

      God Bless

Satans tongue is filled with deceit. I am reminded this morning as I read my favorite devotional. I have been warned but some days it feels too much like a Disney movie to fully believe. I hear, I say it to others, but I fail to separate the vicious lies that are being hurled my way on a daily basis. His number one target, my God, his God, yes even Satan believes the in the God he assaults daily. (James 2:19)

Sometimes though on the really hard days, when my sink is filled with flowers for loved ones, and prayers are more of an outcry then any real words, when notes need to be sent, and the news is too gruesome to even watch, on those days I question. On days when I hear of a father waiting for his Son to be found in the ruble of tragedy, yes on those days I start to believe. I believe that God couldn’t possibly care about his people, I believe he is heartless.  I start to believe that I do not matter to him, that he has turned from us.

Until I remember his son, the one who wasn’t found buried under ruble but hanging on the cross. I remember the pleas of his own that asked  Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me” (luke 22:42)  but what Jesus knew, and I what I must be reminded of is the part he says after that, “yet not my will but yours be done”.

That’s hard. I want explanations and more than that I want assurance that I will never send my little girl out one day for her only to never return home. I want to know that God has my best interest at heart. And satan whispers, how can you trust a God like that? I want to scream back “I don’t know”. Then I look at my own life, the times that were filled with more pain than I care to remember, a time that he has turned into a way for me to share his glory. I can read drafted suicide notes and see that God did not forsake me in those moments but not for me, no for him.

I think what I have to remember is I don’t want a world based on my will be done. I don’t want a world I can explain because how can my human mind explain a holy God, only if he becomes human and looses the holy. No. I need the holy, I need the set apart, and I need to know that the same God who sent Jesus to die for me is the same one who is preparing forever.


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