Tindell Baldwin »

My daughter is 8 weeks old today, which means I am sleep deprived, slightly malnourished, almost always coming down with something,  and blissfully unaware of anything except my daughters smile. I know in the back of my mind though that this phase is short and that every day she gets one step closer to the mean world that awaits her. She gets one day closer to boys who want all the wrong things and magazines that tell her she is fat if she wears anything besides a size zero.

It hit me especially hard this morning when I read an article about a teenager girl who feel from her window when asking a boy to delete the dirty video he had pressured her to make. She was once 8 weeks old, she was once cuddled in the arms of her mother safe from the pressures of the world. I have yet to find a way to stop time, and each day that my daughter gets closer to teenagedom I have to ask myself “what on earth am I going to do to make sure she is different.”

How can I make her believe she is beautiful when culture is constantly telling her that she needs to be curvy yet thin, and tall but not too tall, and do it all in high heels that in my opinion are torture devices. It’s too much, at any age the pressure put on teenagers to fit a mold that only a small number happen to fit into is destructive. So where do they tend to go when they don’t fit the mold, the only place that gives them validation that they are in fact pretty enough, boys.

Boys who have grown up in a culture that has told them woman are only good for their bodies, a culture that has typically showed them pornography by the age of four, and a society that finds any and every excuse to put woman in some type of leather onesie.  Throw in a few dozen batches of hormones and you have a recipe for disaster.

Every day i read about this disaster, girls are buying the lie that men validate them with sexual love and men buy into the lie that woman are there for sexual purposes only. We don’t need proof that culture is broken, its thrown into our face every day what we need is hope, because facts and realities don’t change the truth that Jesus is the only Savior that can mend our hearts and a culture that is not immersed in that truth is a broken culture.

This is my plan for my daughter, every day I am going to tell her not only how much her father and I love her but how much Jesus loves her. Every day I will do my absolute best to make sure she sees truth in our home. I will be on my knees in prayer for her tender heart that could be crushed so easily. I will show her true love in all its forms by keeping my marriage in tact so one day when she meets a boy she will have a standard he must meet. Because at the end of the day I can’t protect her from everything but I can show her a better way, I can show her a life that is full of love, and I can take the road less traveled and not worry about being her friend but be intentional about being her parent.  In the end this might still not be enough, it wasn’t for me, but I still have the hope that Jesus is sovereign and he can use even the most grotesque of situations for his good.

Psalm 42:5

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

The article I read that inspired this post can be found here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9828589/Children-and-the-culture-of-pornography-Boys-will-ask-you-every-day-until-you-say-yes.html

  • Rae Ann - I am a mother with a 12 year old and an 8 year old both are girls. I really enjoyed this. It reminded me no matter how trying things get with your daughter that Jesus is always there to help you through it. Just tell them you love them and show them Jesus and let him do the rest.ReplyCancel

  • Rae Ann - I have a 12 year old and an 8 year old both are girls. This is so true. All we can do is raise them up letting them know they are loved and show them Jesus. Then no matter how hard it gets sometimes always know that Jesus is there, as long as we rely on Him.ReplyCancel

I’ll never forget the anticipation leading up to our 20 week ultrasound. We had gone over and over in our head boy or girl and I was convinced it was a girl until the day before and ben was unwavering in his girl prediction (from day one I might add). If I was honest I wanted a girl, something about hair bows and tea parties sounded appealing for our first baby but I knew i’d be happy either way (classic party line). The minute the ultrasound began I knew.. it was a girl. I had goggled enough “girl ultrasound pictures” to know, just in case the ultrasound tech missed that day of class. I was ecstatic, visions of purple erupted in my brain. I had my daughter.

Then reality hit… I was going to have a daughter. My initial joy was clouded by flashbacks of blue eye shadow and skirts that were way too short. “God please let her be like ben” was all I could manage. Well she is here now and under baby personalities I’d put her as fiesty :). Not quite the people pleasing baby I was praying for but better. She is wonderfully made no matter how that turns out to be and as I prayed for her this morning I realized no matter what she goes through, God is never changing and powerful and her story will be her own. So instead of praying she wont have a story like mine I am praying she has the story God designed for her. So here is my prayer for her

A Prayer for my daughter 
God here lies my darling girl
hands so small heart still so pure
today will pass and tomorrow will too
but first there are a few things I must ask of you
 
Please keep her safe wherever she may go
and make those places you and her know 
grow her tall so when she stands
all can see the works of your hands
 
give her grace to laugh with life 
because when hardships come you are still by her side
let her care for those who need you 
yes the widows, the orphans, but her classmates too
 
give her a smile that lights up a room
so when others see her they also see you
give her your passion to stand for what is right
so when the world becomes tempting 
she is ready for the fight 
 
show her the love you pour on your children
so on days she doubts she matters she has your assurance
Lord I pray she knows my desperate prayer
that in times of great pain you will always be there
 
Lord keep her innocence firmly intact 
shelter her heart from Satans attacks 
and when life throws her against the wall
give her your great strength you offer to us all
 
God please teach her that life is all about you
so when everyone tells her differently she will know what is true
give her a desire to change the world 
because when we live in your love we can do nothing more 

Me and claireMy daughter is 18 days old. On paper it doesn’t sound like long but the truth is I feel like shes been here much longer, mostly because I’m running a 24 hour shift with a few breaks so in mother years she is 36 days old. I knew having a baby would be challenging but like most things in life I counted myself lucky that I had loving support and of course my iron clad will to make it through these tough days. The first 5 days were bliss, Ben was home and we laid around watching movies and talking about how perfect she was. There were challenges but I was still hopped up on adrenaline, hormones, and whatever else they sent home with me from the hospital. Then Ben had to go back to work and Christmas came and she woke up to the world and gave those vocal chords a run for their money. The first week I was convinced I got the only baby that cried only when needed, but after a week filled with awestruck relatives I know that is not true. I realized that not only does she cry but she is like me, she pitches fits when things don’t go her way. The difference is I’m an adult and know better and she is not. The more the days went on the more I saw my flesh, my selfishness, and was once again reminded how much I need my savior.

I thought being a mom would come easy. After all I have a wonderful example for one, two sister in laws who have graciously shared their kids and their experiences, and years working in daycare (in the infant room no less). So becoming a mom didn’t scare me, it should have. While I can deal with the ins and outs of a newborn, diaper changes, feeding, and bathing, I struggle to forget myself in all of this and be the servant God has called me to be in this time of my life. Like all great teachable moments, I have come to realize, through nights of tears, that taking care of a newborn and loving my daughter like Christ loves me are vastly different things. I can take care of her which she very much needs but to truly love her I must forget myself and remember who I live for.  I am supposed to be a servant in this life but I have never really had to fully live that out until this season. I must serve her when no one is looking, I must take care of her with no benefit to myself, and I must sacrifice what I want for her good. For someone so filled with sin that is hard.

This morning though as I drink down my allotted cup of coffee I remember that my Savior did that and much more for me, his daughter. He humbled himself and became a servant for his children. I rarely thank him and often when I offer up praise it is generally because I want something in return. I am human in every sense of the word and he is God but he loves me anyway. Not only does he love me but he has blessed with his child whom I get to love and raise so while the nights might be hard and the days can run together I know that being his servant, even in these little ways, truly represent living for him.

  • Brooke - Beautiful. Thank you for posting and being so transparent. God is using you for His glory!ReplyCancel

  • Meredith Stuart - So glad you wrote this. So glad to know its not just me! Miss you Tindell and I’ll be praying for you and your sweet baby girl!ReplyCancel

  • Katara - What a sweet prayer!ReplyCancel

Yesterday at church the title of the series that Louie was beginning was “Prodigals”, before it started Kerri turned to me and said, “this story must always have a special place in your heart.” I smiled because yes it did, it is true that the story of the lost son is a depiction of my own life and I have never been able to make it through a sermon about Luke 15 without tearing up at the idea that my heavenly father would once again throw his arms around me when I came running home. It’s a sobering reminder of what my life used to look like. It’s a reminder more so though of what God has done for me since then. As Louie talked about the Love of our heavenly father for the first time since turning back to God almost seven years ago I realized how far up the road I have come with the Lords gracious guidance.

See the story of the homecoming is a wonderful story but we really wouldn’t serve a God that amazing if it ended there. My God is not that small, he didn’t meet me on the road of redemption, have a feast, and then leave me to figure out life. No! He made a new life for me. He said, “follow me” and when I did he showered me with his precious love, his grace, and his undeniable will for my life. A man can forgive but only God can turn our broken lives into something amazing. I do realize that my blogs never stray far from this point but it is only because so many of us have broken lives and we come expecting forgiveness but never expecting a new life.

Satan would love for you to believe that. He would love to get you back to Jesus just to let you fester in who you used to be. I was consumed with that for a while, I was the prodigal daughter period. I had no story after that. I had just run home but when I started following Jesus back towards his house my life was made new.  God doesn’t just want you to be the prodigal daughter, no there is so much more waiting for you. That is only the beginning of your story.

Well in true Tindell fashion I have waited until 10:30 on my the day of my dad’s birthday to write this post. Again true to me I can’t write a normal card to tell the ones I love how much they mean to me, I have to do it in a drawn out internet post that will make senimentals like me well up while many more of you will wish I had put this in a card instead of my very public blog… well oh well! Here’s to hoping most of you are sentimental.

As a joke I wanted to put a post on facebook to say happy birthday to my wonderful dad (we always joke about his impressive number of friends, 5, thanks to his profile I created in my short stint at his company 🙂 ) anyway as I went to type out a simple message to tell him that I loved him and most likely make a joke I got to thinking about where I would be without my dad, probably on MTV, on my favorite show, 16 and pregnant or still looking for love in all the wrong places, either way it wouldn’t be where I am today.

The more time I spend with teenagers the more I realize how crucial a father is in a girls life. I know it was true in my own life, no matter how many jerks I dated I always knew that one day there was going to be a guy who respected me and loved me like my dad did. A guy who wanted to hear my opinions and argue with me when necessary, a man who loved the lord and loved me, a man who would open the door for me and take me on fun shopping dates. However, I would have never known I deserved these things if my dad had not first taught me. I wouldn’t have known what love looked like if my dad hadn’t loved my mom so well. I read recently that the greatest gift a dad can give his daughter is loving his wife well and I have to say I couldn’t agree more. No, my dad is not perfect but he strives to love my mom,  and in that I learned how a man loves his wife.  Through his continual love of my mom and his love of our family I learned what love looks like.

So a simple post of facebook won’t do today to let my dad know how much he is appreciated. He has shaped me and prepared me for my future since I can remember. He has brought home flowers when I was sad and made my stuffed animals talk when I couldn’t sleep (this has not been recently do not worry). How can you ever thank a parent for giving you the wisdom and love you need to grow into an actual adult? How do you thank someone for giving you more than you ever could return? I know I truly can’t but I can remind them every chance I get that there prayers didn’t go to waste, their teachings were not forgotten, and having you as my biggest fan will always be the push I need to continue.

Happy Birthday Daddy! I hope every man can rise to the challenge of raising a daughter like you did and teach her how much she is truly loved!

 

Its 11:35 and for the first time in months I am thinking about putting words on paper. I don’t know about what or for who but it is progress to feel the keys under my fingers again. For so long I was so tired of my story so angry that all I had was a broken past through which God taught but I lost focus of who this was about. It wasn’t about my broken past that made girls read, ok maybe that got them started but what kept them reading is Gods redemptive power. What keeps life going in general is God’s story, not mine. My stories are just crushing tales of a girl who made all the wrong choices, and without God my story would end where it began, in my deep need to fit in. However because of him, because he is mighty to save and because he has hopes and dreams for me he gave me something more. He gave me himself. He gave me a firm place to stand when my world is spiraling out of control. He gave me a shoulder to cry when the pain is just too much to bear. He gave me a story to tell about his great love not my great screw ups.

People have often applauded me when I tell them the premise of my book, a drunken teen who looks for love in all the wrong places, and for a while I believed that I was doing some courageous but the truth is I am saying what needs to be said. I am doing what I promised God I would do when I took up my cross, I am telling the story of redemption and you don’t get to redemption without first being broken.  I stopped writing because I lost sight of who this was about, I stopped writing because I got caught up in what I had done rather than what God had done for me. But thanks to a few gentle reminders from readers I was reminded that my cause is not about me, it’s about him, the one who can save a wretch like me and wash me clean.

  • jackie - It’s hard to be brave and offer everything you are. The world keeps telling us that it is about us and about being a success in our own eyes. Keep up the good work because you are making a difference just by being you. Also remember that you are feeling a mixture of emotions now and know that your emotions don’t change who you are in Christ. Just put them in their place. You are doing great! Glad that you are writing again.ReplyCancel

This Mother’s Day I honor my mom, who spent one night on her knees in Aruba praying: to save my life.
Dear Jesus! was all she could muster.

My mom told me later those were the only words her heart knew to say. There she was, on her knees in the entrance of our bungalow at 4 a.m., after discovering I had snuck out with my friends.

This wasn’t the first time my mom spent herself in prayer for me. Like before, I found myself in more trouble out of the country than in the States.

On this particular night, I was partying in Aruba, when a guy approached me. He was tall, cute enough, and offered to buy me a drink. Quickly, my ex-boyfriend was a faint memory.

Meanwhile, my mom prays. She doesn’t know why, just that it’s important.

More dancing and way more drinking but finally it is time to head home. Its 5 a.m., and the sun is dangerously close to rising. As I gather up my friends to leave, he pulls my arm.

Where are you going, he asks.

Home, I respond, rather annoyed.

No, come with me, he retorts—and I get more annoyed.

I have to get my friends home, I respond and pull away.

I will find you tomorrow! he shouts, and before he leaves, I ask him his name.

Joran Vander Sloot, he says.

At the time the name means nothing. Today it means everything.

Joran is the number one suspect in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance and a convicted murderer in another case. That could have been me.

You can imagine the shock as I sat in my cozy home in Atlanta, watching his face run across every news channel on TV. Then a few months later, my parents found a picture of me and Joran from that night, and my mom burst into tears. What she told me next I’ll never forget:

“Sometimes God wakes me up just to tell me to pray for you. And that night in Aruba, I spent hours on my knees.”

I owe my mom more than words can ever say. My mom battled for me in prayer, not just that one night in Aruba. But countless times she stayed up when God told her to pray. If she hadn’t, I doubt I would be alive today.

Every Mother’s Day I often reflect on where I would be without a mother who prayed for me, fought for me, and loved me no matter what. She has created in me a burden to do this for my own daughter someday.

Because of the impact she’s had on my life, I am taking the opportunity to honor her today. I know many girls have been robbed of having a vital support system like I have in my mom.

After attending Passion 2012, and then through friends and family, I heard about girls enslaved in India without any mom to battle for them. My heart fell. I learned about an organization called As Our Own who rescues girls from poverty, slavery, and exploitation. They promise to parent them as their very own daughters—for the rest of their lives. They are parents battling in prayer daily for their daughters.

If you have an amazing mom like I do, you’ll want to celebrate her in a unique way this Mother’s Day. In honor of your mom, make a donation to support these young girls in India who have been rescued and will one day be moms themselves. Your donation will make a tremendous difference in the lives of these girls, their children, and their grandchildren.

 

Follow this link to donate and download a card that explains the gift you’ve made in her name.

 

 

  • Anna Etheriedge - Amazing story!!! As mom to 6 I have some callouses on my knees. I don’t know what was happening all those times I’ve been called to prayer in the past for my children… truly I am humbled to read your story and think of what situations have been avoided because I answered that overwhelming call to prayer. Never will I look at that “nudge” the same way! Oh how God speaks to us if we will only listen. To think He would use us somehow -miraculously when we hit our knees for our own and others. The young girls of India have been on my heart since I read Amy Carmichael’s story years ago. Thank God for this ministry, As Your Own. This was all very encouraging to me today 🙂 AnnaReplyCancel

  • lea marshall - i read this to my “moms in prayer” group today (we meet every week to pray for our kids, the school and its teachers and staff). good reminder to not grow weary and the power of a mother’s prayer… multitudes of prayers… praying without ceasing! thank you for sharing this!ReplyCancel

Ran across this today thanks to my aunt… its a great post. Thought i’d share!

http://etheriedge.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/filthy-rags/

 

  • Anna Etheriedge - I’m touched you liked this. I wrote it in the back seat, while our son drove us to a parent meeting at Rehab. He’s ready to tell his story, so we are working on organizing his thoughts. So many kids we see each week, hurting, lonely, lacking true Hope. Something’s missing. I’m glad you’re telling your story! God will use your voice. AnnaReplyCancel

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