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Tindell Baldwin »

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!


  • 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

When I think about my rebellion it reminds me of what Peter did to Jesus when Jesus went to be crucified. Peter is in this crucial moment of life, does he stand up for what he claims he whole-heartedly believes or does he deny? Will he be able to be the man God called him to be in his deepest moment of fear and rejection or will he take the easy way out? He was asked three times if he knew Jesus, each time he claimed he didn’t.

At fifteen my life with Jesus took a similar turn. I knew Jesus but when asked I denied, denied, denied. I was at this crucial point where I could stand up for what I believed despite the social consequences or I could bow down and claim I never knew. So just like peter I denied, I denied not only that I knew him but that I ever followed him. Kids would ask aren’t you a Christian? No! would be my quick response. See at fifteen I was at this crossroads, would I follow Jesus or would I deny I ever knew him and go my own way? However, because of what others would think I denied my life with Christ and walked away. Jesus hung on a cross for me but I couldn’t stand losing a few friends.

See, we are almost always faced with this crucial question, maybe not asked directly, but very indirectly life asks us, “do you know Jesus?” How will you answer? More importantly how does your life answer? Will you be like me and Peter and bow down in a moment of fear or will you have the courage to stand up for Jesus. Will you have the strength to accept that others won’t accept you because you know him or will you abandon your savior on the cross for a few beers on Friday night.

You might be like me and that’s exactly what you do, and for us there is good news, for Peter there was good news, God will always claim you.

A broken world makes for broken stories.

Recently I have had the absolute honor of being trusted with stories from girls who have a past like mine, and the biggest question they want answered is why. Why do I have to deal with this pain? Why didn’t someone tell me sooner? Why did God allow this to happen to me? They are great questions, and ones I sadly don’t have the answer to but I do have some encouragement.

For years I asked the same question, why? Why did I make decisions I would later regret? Why did I have to go through such pain and heart ache just to get back to where I started? It has only been recently that God has given me a glimpse as to why he allowed me to go through heartache. When I get to sit down with teenage girls or talk to girls at events and youth groups I get a glimpse of how God is using my pain.

Each time I get to share my story and girls can relate God whispers to me, “I use broken stories for my kingdom” and oh how it is true. Stories change lives, your misery and pain can help someone in the same misery or pain. You never know who you will be talking to in years to come that has been through the same tragedy as you. God uses our mess of a lives for his great glory and only a great God could do that. Even in our mess he is present. The verse I live by is Genesis 50:20

“20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Whatever you’ve gone through, God can use it. He can take your ashes and make them beautiful.

  • Taylor - Great point Tindell! The way I think about it sometimes is that we are so “engrossed” in our own story we often miss or don’t understand the bigger story God is trying to tell. It can be so hard but also amazing to look back and see why God allowed certain things and how they all fit together.ReplyCancel

  • A South Georgia Friend - Tindell, Thank you for being so willing to see Jesus through your pain. While I did not choose the same path as you, I did grow up with an alcoholic parent and spent much of my teenage years questioning “why?” Later I discovered how God could use my pain to minister to young girls dealing with similar circumstances. I recently heard Beth Moore state, (not quoting) it may seem that our circumstances are sometimes unfair, but if God sees that in the end our pain may produce the edification of the body of Christ, the glorification of the Holiest of Holies, or the salvation of the lost, then He may find our trials permissable. Yes, we must learn to see Jesus through the pain.ReplyCancel

I am still playing this one question through my mind from the conference just a few weeks ago, “how do we get our kids to turn away from the Popular lifestyle?” the inquiring mom asked and at the moment I had no good answer. I had a spirtual answer yes, but a practical answer no. I realized later what I should have said and if you are a parent listen close because this is what I would tell you , write a better story in your own life

If you want your teenage daughter to stop hanging out with joe shmoe with the scarry tatoos then write a better story than him. If you want your son to care more about his family than his football career then write a better story. I’ll admit I stole this idea from donald miller but it still remains true.. write a better story. Dont live your life through your kids let them see life in you.

‘The first time I ever saw this was in houston, Texas with the Taylor family. Something abut the way all the kids sat around and talked made ben and I wonder what the parents had paid them to act this way.Then we realized what the key was, their parents were writing their own story.They werent living through the kids lives. So for those parents desperatly wanting to know how to get your child involved in the family once again…. here is my one advice. Write a story in your own life that they would want to be involved in and if you look at your life and realize its not worth reading… change it.

  • Jason - From a youth pastor’s perspective…you hit a home run with this one. What a powerful word “Don’t live your life through your kids but let your kids see life in you.” So true. And from a young dad’s perspective, this resonates in and challenges my heart deeply.ReplyCancel

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