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Tindell Baldwin »

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…

    ClaireReplyCancel

    • 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!

    TindellReplyCancel

  • 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.

    BrookeReplyCancel

  • 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
      TindellReplyCancel

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.

 

Children’s tiny footsteps fill the halls at 6am, the joyful pitter patter of anticipation, tiny squeals for the little things to come. Laundry hangs clumsily over the rail, pool toys scarrter the halls, and baby jars sit half eaten in the fridge. My heart almost burst with the fullness of our life, this family that has been building like the waves that crash on the sand.

Yes its different, most nights we head to bed earlier than we used to knowing our kids will be up with the sun. We move schedules, shower last, sleep less, but we also laugh louder, speak sweeter, and reveal in the joy that can’t really be put into words. We do dances when one of the little ones, “poops in the potty”. We celebrate the candy store, batman masks, half painted nails, and we slip away into quiet when we can knowing at any moment we will be greeted by laughter. Yes there are meltdowns and tears and times when the clock ticks too slowly to the seven thirty bedtime but it just makes grow up dinners that much sweeter.

We are all in this new phase of families and parenting and marriage and learning that real life isn’t so much about what you can get but what you can build. I wouldn’t trade the footsteps or the mess for any other life. I see the roads that have led here, sometimes painfully, and I have seen Gods faithful hand whisper to me in the quietest of moments that father is the greatest of words. I have seen the molding of our family, and the painful growth spurts that have caused us to to rally and love a little deeper.

Its a new season yes, but like every season it will usher in the next. Tiny feet will usher into teenage drama and prayers from bended knees of desperation. I am sure life won’t always be this pure but in the days that seem long I can look ahead at my goal. I can see that raising a generation of Jesus lovers starts in my home, behind my doors, and in my marriage. I have come to realize that if influence many for Christ but I don’t give my kids every opportunity to see Jesus in me then I have missed the point. If I manage to write best sellers and speak on big stages but my kids don’t run to me when the tears fall like rain then none of it matters.

I have wrestled with this often, is what I am doing all that important?? I mean who cares if I change diapers, do laundry, keep house, cook dinner? I could be out changing things, saying things, influencing, striving, does the day to day really matter? I believe it does, because memories are made there. Love is formed there, family is formed at dinner tables, and swingsets, in lazy sundays, and sick nights. Family is formed in the mundane and sometimes miserable moments. Because you can’t get here without first being there. You grow into adults and form families of your own and thank the Good lord that your own parents had the audacity to show you the way.

You get to the real relationship. You become a parent yourself and see why it all mattered so much, every lunch note, every spanking, every daddy daughter date because while I fully realize that life isnt a formula I won’t go to the grave with regrets about how much I invested in my family but I might regret how much time I didnt. I wont regret selling less books but I will regret missing preschool graduation and dance recitals. One day I will see that each day meant a lot and maybe one day I will sit in a packed house full of my own kids and praise Jesus for the long days that turned into this.

 

ANF_LOGOSToday I am speaking to some eighth grade girls from a school down the street from me. Nothing fancy just a little dessert and chat time about the wonderful and terrifying world of high school they are about to enter into. I’ve spent some hours this week wrestling through what I was feeling at their age and I came up with some things I wish I had heard (if I had ever actually listened) then last night like a ton of bricks I felt this small voice telling me, “these girls don’t need to hear this, you’re making this such a bigger deal than it is”. I paused and for a second I started to wonder.

My pride was starting to get in the way of my message. I didn’t really want to go explain to another group of girls about my broken mess of a life because I’m worried they might judge me or think I’m dumb or stare at me like I have a giant booger (which has only happened like once or twice).  I went to bed a little discouraged and somewhat nervous for tonight. I mean maybe I was making too big of deal about being “popular” maybe this world isn’t really as cruel as I thought?

Then this morning I read an article by the CEO of Abercrombie, I remember Abercrombie. Yes, I vaguely remember the half-dressed men and woman on the walls as I tried to fit my pre-pubescent body in their size “6” which I’m pretty sure is equivalent to my daughters 9 month clothing. I remember that my friends and I would go ogle the boys that worked there because they were mostly shirtless (please notice the use of past tense in these sentences). I remember that Abercrombie was the standard, I remember leaving the stores and it taking a good week to get the smell off your clothes. I remember a tank top being close to 50$ and somehow convincing my mom that this was what all the cool kids wore so I had to have it for my birthday. She wasn’t a fan. I haven’t been to Abercrombie in over 10 years but I have a feeling that for a lot of kids it probably still considered “cool”. Boys and girls just trying to be accepted is that so bad?

Well here’s a quote from the article about a little change Abercrombie made “He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.”  This quote was in response to the fact that Abercrombie will no longer be carrying a womans XL or XXL but just in woman because “ the only reason Abercrombie offers XL and XXL in men’s sizes is to appeal to large athletes.” And again, athletes are cool.

So do middle school girls need someone to tell them that this “cool kid” life isn’t really what it looks like? Do girls need to hear that there is a God who loves them even if they happen to wear a Abercrombie XL?? which by the way wouldn’t fit my arm! Do girls need to know that this lifestyle that Abercrombie is promoting of meaningless sex and size 00 dreams is empty and lonely?  

Yes, I believe that teenagers deserve to hear something besides the world always whispering they are fat. I believed the bible when it said that I would face persecution and heartache because I’m living in a world that isn’t mine. I’m here for one reason, to promote truth. For me today that looks like telling a few girls, that the God who created them loves them and wants to know them no matter what size they wear.  So thank you Mike Jefferies (Abercrombie CEO) for reminding me why my message is so vital.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name… you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

Article I am referring to (WARNING picture on article is inappropriate)  http://elitedaily.com/news/world/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-explains-why-he-hates-fat-chicks/

  • Kimberly Falls - Thank you so much for what you are doing! I have an 8th grade girl and yes they definitely need to hear your message! I can’t wait to get your book for her!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke Ventimiglia - Wow, Tindell. You are such a blessing. Thank you for having God use you! You’re beautiful, inside and out!

    BrookeReplyCancel

book photoWell guys it’s May. Yes, it’s May. Somehow April passed, my daughter is almost 5 months old (I know you were really wondering), long awaited family vacation is this month, I am no longer allergic to the air so that’s a plus, and I am two months away from book release day.

My head and heart is swirling as I stare at the books on the shelf. It was about three years ago that I started this, 3 years ago that I felt God calling me to write my story. I remember hearing it and thinking, “really mine, but it’s so broken” his firm response was “exactly”. As so it began. I was unemployed living in Houston with my new husband and having a horrible attitude about the whole thing. My family was in Atlanta my friends were in Atlanta and, Houston was similar to western novels I had seen minus the nature.  So I spent hours every day at Starbucks writing down my story and fighting off mosquito’s that were the size of a quarter.

I got to a lot of parts and thought, I mean no one will ever read this so I can include that. So I did. I think if I had known that it would end up published I might have been a little less honest. I might have left out some things, not because God wanted me to leave it out but because my pride wanted me to leave it out. I mean my Mimaw is going to read this (that’s my grandmother for you non southerners) and my in-laws and even though they are amazingly supportive I’d like to maintain a shred of dignity in this process. Not really my call though.

I’ll be honest I’ve spent the past year in some sense of dread wondering what the Christian community will think of me, my writing, and my not so squeaky clean past. I’ve wondered what my daughter will think when she gets old enough to read this. So many questions but I have to take them back to the one who asked me to do this in the first place.

Whenever I seem to ask he reminds me of people who have made huge impact on me, and I remember their willingness to be broken in front me. The thing is we are all broken and we all rebel from God and not talking about doesn’t change that truth. So I talked about it… all of it. I filled 240 pages revealing my deep and real need for a Savior.

But why??? Great question, because vulnerability and honesty change everything. Maybe if I come off my high horse (that by the way isn’t real) and admit that I’m no better than the next person maybe we can both meet on some kind of level ground and really get to know God in all his splendor, no masks attached. Maybe if teenagers can see some shred of hope in my broken story that was very much redeemed by a very real God then maybe just maybe he will reveal himself to them as well. I could be wrong and you could very much disagree but here’s the thing, living in obedience to the one who has called me to him is worth the risk… every time. It’s worth the possibility of criticism and misunderstanding because after living most of my life caring about popularity and what other people thought of me (hence the title) I can tell you a life with God is freedom in every sense of the word. Sure I’m scared and worried and some days I shudder thinking about how much I’m putting out there but then I talk to a girl who can relate and God reminds me “this is why”. Worth it. Everytime.

**Book is available for pre-order from amazon but won’t be released until July

 

  • Anna Etheriedge - You go girl! We (Bobbi’s Biblestudy) can’t wait for your book to get here! And I can’t wait to share it with the recovering addict girls that I love so much. I don’t have a story quite like theirs to share… just my son’s. How wonderful for them to read how God met you. Relating makes a difference. Thank youReplyCancel

  • Charlotte - I just saw Jefferson Bethke’s recommendation for this book through twitter, and just through the title alone, I think this is a book I am definitely going to be able to relate to. Thank you for being so courageous to share your story. Definitely pre-ordering this!!ReplyCancel

  • lea marshall - whenever parenting my prodigal daughter gets tedious. when i want to give up and just let her go to the unsupervised alcohol filled parties that will “make her happy” and look the other way like the other parents. whenever i think these years and these tears will never end… i go back and reread your blog. from the beginning. it gives me hope in a God who restores. and rebuilds. and redeems all things. thank you.

    i cannot wait to read your book. i don’t think my daughter will read it right now. but someday, i am sure it will be a great delight to her. to know that she was never alone. never abandoned. those years (and my tears) were not wasted. and she was never more loved…

    He is enough. for her. and for a mother’s aching heart.ReplyCancel

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