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Tindell Baldwin »

Growing up we used to refer to the Christmas season as “the magic”, mostly to taunt my younger brother long after he had stopped listening for reindeer on the roof. Every year the songs would start to play on the radio, lights would be hung on houses, and red and green would fill stores and collectively we joked that it was the magic. We’d pull out our favorite holiday movies, eat our favorite meals, and all feel a little bit less stressed. We let bathroom sharing quarrels go, laughed at our family jokes, and listened to every Amy Grant Christmas song known to man. As much as “the magic” was a joke it always felt real, it always felt like we really did get to experience something magical. We were never overly religious about Christmas, I mean we knew why we celebrated and we read the Christmas story, but it was more that we felt what we had believed all year. We didn’t light advent candles or read something every night but our house was filled to the brim with love and laughter.

Fast forward and here I am ten years out of our cozy family home and building memories and traditions with my own family. Before December came I sat down and did something I almost never do, I set my expectations and I set them realistically (which means low….). We have two LITTLE KIDS (like we only recently got one out of diapers) and as much as I want to light advent candles and sing carols that talk about Jesus birth I know that realistically someone would light something on fire. As much as I want to read the long version of Jesus’s birth I will have to settle for the cliff notes until my oldest can listen without finding her nose treasures more interesting (boogers and burgers sound a lot alike these days and I don’t know if she quite knows the difference). So I set them low and I decided that we would just enjoy all the newness that came with each part of the Christmas story and the season.

Then the other day she was coloring and she started singing away in a manger, and I teared up because I am a mom and when your three year old sings about Jesus you cry, and then we went to sing a Children’s Choir at church and she asked all about who they sing to and why they dance and I teared up again. Tiny seeds that with the right prayer and nourishment will grow big fruit. A Big God always blows our sand sized expectations out of the water.

The other morning as I was reading my advent book (to myself sans kids because kids don’t care about the dramatic details of the greatest event in history… see booger comment) I realized this Christmas season had been magical. Not because I manifested big God moments but because God came, because he always does. Because each year songs, lights, books, and children’s tiny voices remind us that the magic happened. It was quiet, soft, and slow (like my favorite Christmas song says) but he came and he gave us enough love and hope to make it through the rest of the seasons. We don’t have to feel it, we don’t have to create it, it just happens whether we have prepared or whether we are just bystanders enjoying the show. Magic or not, every year it takes my breath away when I think about the little baby that came not only for my big sin ravaged heart but for my children’s tiny little ones who quietly sing songs they have yet to even understand.


Isn’t it true that we all wear many hats in this life? We all have titles with special meaning. Titles that signify who we are and what we love. Titles tell others something about us and help us wrap our mind around expectations. Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Author. These are my tiles I wear like badges that make me feel found. Titles help us navigate a world that is always asking us who we are, what we believe, and why we matter.

This year almost all my titles have changed a little bit. I have had to navigate adding another little person to our life. Ben changed jobs and I had to learn to be supportive even when I had little to give. I have watched people I love hurt with a pain I didn’t know you could endure and I’ve been disappointed in ways I didn’t think I could manage. I lost an important working relationship that put my career on an even bigger hold than I expected and I had to let go of the title that made me feel slightly important. When my insomnia kicked in hard core after thanksgiving I sat in bed and thought of all the change that had run rampant in my world this past year. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t angry it was just facts stacking up in the news archives of my brain.

I also traced through the complete joy I had felt this year. Every step of watching my children grow. Joining a small group that has been an amazing support. New and wonderful friends. Laughing with my husband. Joining a church that has changed me to my core. Volunteering in student ministry again. Really good things that have filled me up.

I was thinking about this tonight as I traced the names of Jesus on my chalkboard. I have been following the 100 days of Jesus on email/Instagram and every day I get a new name that talks about the significant titles of Jesus. I started writing out the ones that had pulled me through the good and hard times this year. Healer, redeemer, prince of peace, life, lion, the Lamb of God, reconciler, mediator, father, Living water, and the list goes on. All these titles have changed life’s road blocks into speed bumps.  These profound titles that have carried me through pain with a comfort only the God of heaven can offer. Titles that have promised stability when nothing is stable around me. Titles that have made me valuable when I feel invisible. Titles that have given me the peace to trust when pain seems to be the only thing I can see. The truth is nothing in this life is stable, there are no guarantees but somehow, December seems to roll around every year and remind us just how much God cares and whispers hope into our hurting.

I will always need a redeemer because sin isn’t going anywhere. I will always need a healer because my body is broken. I will always need a reconciler because I cannot get to God without Jesus sinless sacrifice. I will always need the Lamb of God to pay for the gravity of my sin. I will always need a reconciler because sin separates. I will always need living water because this world just won’t satisfy. To sum it up, I will always need Jesus. I’ll need all his name, his titles, and attributes to help me through the rest of the unknowns, there isn’t one part of him I don’t need.

  • susan p - i love you TB. You are a hero to me 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Linda Hughes - How beautiful. I was sitting here writing down “titles” of my teenage daughter. All the things that make up who she is to us and her world, to boost her confidence in the light of poor decisions that created hurt and drama in our home last night.
    She is an athlete, a photographer, an animal lover, a best friend, a singer…….
    I stopped. Decided to check my email. I had purchased your book Popular for her this past summer. She is in the process of reading it ( not so faithfully). So I get your emails.

    How interesting that you are listing the titles of Jesus. As I look at the 2 lists I realize how human we are and how HUGE Jesus is. I mean what/who compares to Him? The LIVING WATER? The PRINCE of peace? LIFE?

    In all that I cherish in my daughter, I must realize that I have got to point her to HIM. He is everything. In him is everything. Oh, for faith to trust him more!

    Thank you for a beautiful email that has touched this hurting mother’s heart. I can’t wait to share w my friends who are in the midst of hurting over their children’s poor decisions and waywardness in these crazy teen years.ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - Linda,
    I am so sorry to hear you are going through a hard time with your daughter. I’m so glad my words could encourage you!! It is always an honor when God uses my writing in any way.
    God Bless,

Five years used to feel like a really long time. I remember when Claire was born, in those first sleepless months a friend that was a few years ahead of me told me the days are long but the years are short. I thought she was kidding. The days were long. The nights were excruciating. I felt like life was passing me by one minute at a time. Years are short? I laughed. At this rate I thought the years would never come.

Next month my oldest turns 3. Only two more years at home. I can’t believe three whole years have almost passed. On mondays like today I think how did it happen? When did she get so big, how are we already talking about God, the condition of her heart, and the real painful why’s of life? How did we get to the age where she stood at the top of the slide and yelled, “mom, look i’m gonna kill myself,” only for me to realize I can’t mutter sayings anymore that I don’t want her to repeat (try explaining that one to a playground full of moms).

The years are indeed short my friend. I think this is why God refers to our life as vapor… make it count because it vanishes before we know it. The young years are so incredibly hard and yet so incredibly short.  So short that before you know it three of them have passed. I have read that most of a critical years of a child’s life happen before age five. This includes the first six months which my friend and I like to call the “pet rock” phase because while they are adorable to look at…. they don’t do much. Five short years.  When I first became a mom I thought it would be like a sprint… sprint to them walking… small victory. Sprint to them talking… oh crap don’t say that.. small victory and lots of fails. Sprint to them using the toilet instead of their pants… well we will get there. The truth is motherhood is a marathon and I don’t really know what the finish line is. Motherhood is  marathon that requires you to wake up everyday and beg God for enough strength to make it through just this lap with all the huge unknowns still lying ahead. Will we have a good day filled with laughter that makes you think, I can handle three kids, or will we have a day riddled with tears from both mom and child that requires mass amounts of chocolates and questions of just how screwed up my kids will be?  Motherhood is a marathon, so settle into  your pace because the days are long but the years are so short. So short in fact that just when you think you have it down someone changes the race entirely.

Lately I have had to make myself slow down, i’ve been sprinting towards a finish line that doesn’t exist. We have a almost three year old and a fifteen month old (If you follow me on instagram you could probably draw them in your sleep because I have what you like to call a “baby picture problem”… leave me alone they are flipping adorable) and I really want to finish writing a second book but most days its all I can do to collapse into bed and read my latest parenting book to ensure my child doesn’t end up on MTV (just kidding there’s no book for that). This is my gig. I chose it. I chose home not work. I chose to put my dreams on hold until I’m ready to get help. I get to do lots of things I love but pouring my life onto pages isn’t in the cards right now. So the other day I sat down to write and I wrote this instead….

The pages on my computer may be blank but my children’s stories will be well written.

Pace changed. Finish line moved. I’m ready for another lap.



Me and claire


I have a weakness for ridiculous novels. The more absurd the story line the more I like it. I’m currently halfway through a series about a time traveling teenager from London who is trying to solve this great family mystery with her hunky older time traveling buddy…. don’t judge… it’s totally written for my age bracket….fifteen years ago. I would blame my love of writing on this little habit, or the fact that my parents put money towards a car when I was younger if I would read something besides Glamour, but the truth is my chronic insomnia is what keeps me up at night turning pages (see what I did there). So because of this little habit I have read far too many teenage novels that involve ridiculous love stories where both the characters have a curfew and I realize I should probably find another hobby.

There is one thing I notice in any book I seem to read, there always has to be a hero. He’s normally male and described as tall, dark, and handsome (unless you are reading twilight where he is average height, pale, sparkly, and blood thirsty… this is stuff great books are made of). The hero is always somewhat predictable but I never really care. I just want him to sweep in with his one liner and see the perfect bow put on the story. Novels are so much easier than real life.

We are all living out a story and the other unavoidable part of stories is conflict and often pain. That’s normally where the hero comes in. The problem with real life is that the hero never shows up when we need them to. The main characters can be really tough people to love and at the end of the day we don’t get to shut the book of our lives and wait for the next chapter. I like to think of my story as always being written but there seems to be a common theme even in my comfortable life… I always need a hero and no human will do.

The only hero that has ever swept in strong and saved me is Jesus. It sounds so Sunday school but it’s just who God is. He is the hero. He is the only part of our stories worth telling. He is what makes me a good mom, a loving wife, or a caring friend. He is what pushes me to die to selfishness and embrace a life of giving away. Hero’s always change things. They come into circumstances and make them different. This is the essence of God. The most messed up of people can find restoration when God walks into the story. He is always the hero. He is always the one worth praising. He is the one who gives peace in a world so filled with evil.

I recently listened to a john piper sermon where he explained that all the good parts of life are from God. I can see that every day when I look at my story. The beautifully written parts, the loving parts, the parts where I forgave instead of held onto bitterness, the parts where I got what I didn’t deserve, the memories of playing with my brothers, the hours I spend laughing with my husband, when I look at my kids and my heart and eyes well up with joy, all the good in life is from God. The hero of any story is the God who saves anyone who calls on him. Life may be a mess and mines not nearly as exciting as many of my novels but I know who the hero is. I know who will save me. I know who I can hope in. I know who will show up, not always like I expect or like I think I need but I know who I can call on when life starts to go in a million directions. I know who can always save my plotline.


(pssstt… if you like reading, make sure and subscribe and all my blogs will come right to your inbox.)

In the current political climate it seems our religion is marked more by what we don’t agree with than what we actually believe in. So late one night I started to write out what the dreaded “C” word meant to me. I pray I am always known more by how I love than what I stand against.

It goes something like this.

Yes, I am a Christian…
I am pro-life, tend to vote republican , and was raised in a middle class home
Yes I am a Christian…
I use churchy phrases, have my bible highlighted, and tell hurting people I will pray but often forget
Yes I am a Christian…
My kids know bible songs, we go to church on Sunday, and pray before dinner
Yes I am a Christian…
I don’t say the f word, I volunteer at my church, and sometimes oddly smile at strangers in the hopes they see Jesus
Yes I am a Christian…
I’ve been to Africa… Twice, held beautiful orphaned babies and wept out of misunderstanding, and spent far too few hours in under privileged areas

Although I am a Christian my actions are only a reflection of what God has done for me. My heart doesn’t break because of my label or a sticker I have on my car. I don’t hold beliefs so close to my heart because It makes life easy. I don’t help others to earn heaven points or favor with God. I don’t serve at church because I think it makes me better or cleanses me of my many sins. I’m not pro-life because of my brand or because Christianity demands it of me. I don’t teach my kids bible songs because I don’t want them singing secular music and I don’t pray before dinner because my Baptist background tells me to.

I am a Christian…
Which means I realized I was broken beyond human repair
I am a Christian….
Which means I saw the gravity of my sin through Gods eyes and I knew I had a need
I am a Christian…                                                                                                                                                      which means I met a savior at a cross who held out his hand said follow me
I am a Christian…
Which means I humbled myself to the God who created me and told him to change me, break me, and mend me
I am a Christian…
Which means I beg God to fix my inadequacies and include me in his grand story
I am a Christian…
Which means I will buck social norms with truth knowing there is only one who God holds the key to a great plan
I am a Christian…                                                                                                                                                     which means above all else that I want others to know the saving grace of a God who asks us to call him father.

Christianity doesn’t get me out of the mess of humanity it gives me eyes to see a broken world and the deep need we all have for a savior. Christian wasn’t a label I received or even a prayer that I prayer, it was a belief that I need Jesus and with that need comes responsibilities.

Ephesians 2:8-9 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

  • Susan Peterson - yes! it is by grace for sure! 🙂 love you Tindell!ReplyCancel

  • Jane - This is awesome Tindell! You nailed the heart of it all. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Taylor Stanfill - Wow, Tindy! I absolutely loved this. Such a good perspective on why we do stuff and what it means to be a Christian! Although, I do think my Jesus t-shirts made me a better person in middle school.ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - Yes Tay the Jesus Christ in orange and brown were really your witness in high school. haha! Thank you susan and Jane!ReplyCancel

A little over a year ago I sat with a mom as she spoke of her daughter who seemed beyond hope. It was a pretty typical story. I left weeping, blogged about (that sounds so uncaring but it wasn’t… read here) , thought of her some in the following year but never heard much more. I often wondered. Sadly when you hear as many stories as I do you start to loose hope. You start to feel like the world is winning and Satan is just more powerful.

Then I got an email out of the blue and a year later and was sitting across the table from a bright eyed beautiful girl who had fully surrendered her life to Christ. Another prodigal come home. I thought how good God was. I stared in awe at a living breathing image of the power of the cross, truth, and the blood of Christ.

But even in the midst of triumph I feel fear. I sat last week  with my best friend and we were wondering how we keep our kids from this world. We were debating public or private, homeschool or farm far far away…. and our kids are all under 3.  Fear sometimes rules my world. It rules my parenting, it rules my marriage, and it keeps me from moving forward. It isn’t even unmerited fear, I meet a lot of high school girls and I haven’t heard enough come back stories. I fully believe in the power of God but I also fully see the power of Satan in a culture that swallows lies about as much as we swallow big macs and when I scroll through the news it seems I only feel pain radiating from a world that needs Jesus.

So my challenge is to live in fear or believe Jesus is our hope even when life feels hopeless. Believe he can mend hearts, bring prodigals home, and keep my own little ones in the protection of his arms. Believe that he cares even when it seems he has gone silent. Believe he is worth the cost and the only “payout” i’ll receive will be in heaven.  There is a story I read recently when Jesus started teaching the hard stuff, the confusing stuff many of his followers started to walk away, so he turned to his disciples and said, will you go too? (John 6:67)

There answer was so beautifully human, “to whom shall we go?” They knew and they believed and because of that they could not walk away.

So many days I just have to come to terms that while I don’t understand everything (and never will) I do understand there is only one place to go. There is only one worthy of my affection and my attention. There is only one who heals wounds, puts lives back together, and gives tremendous hope in the midst of horrible circumstances.

I know where to go. Even when the prodigals don’t run home, when the injustices against women in children stack up a mile high, when my own life seems out of sorts.

To whom shall I go? Straight into the arms of the one who gave me everything I would ever need at the cross.

The sadness hits me in waves like huge gushing, tear jerking, eye opening waves every time I open any media outlet. From plan parenthood videos that chock life up to a Petri-Dish of money, to cheating websites that promise you more than what you have, to people wagering exactly what they believe at the expense of others. I have felt nothing short of hopeless. I have felt the darkness swooping over the streets like a storm rolling in and asked God for answers to no avail.

Yet, In the midst of it all, I watch my children who have no idea. They have no frame of reference to the world I will one day release them to. They belly ache laugh at animal noises, silly songs, and tickle fights. They know nothing of political debates, retirement accounts, or future plans. They trust me and ben every day to wake up love them and give them what they need. I have yet to fail them in those two things. I am by no means perfect but they haven’t known real need yet in their tiny lives.

Today I read an article by a woman who in response to the latest Christian wife being cheated on scandal she said the hoped “her daughters breathed fire.” She has young kids like me and I sort of sighed when I read it because for so long that was my approach. I was a girl who breathed fire. I was a girl that thought forgiveness meant weakness and that mercy was earned through a series of paying back. I was a girl who was “stronger” than my greatest hurt. Until life got lonely and I realized I couldn’t strong hold pain into not hurting. The sad reality of this broken down life is that we will run across people who will hurt us and the only thing worth breathing is forgiveness. I have learned that strength comes from showing people what they don’t deserve and the only thing that gives me real peace is knowing I’m not any better. Even if I shelf my faith for this discussion I can’t out hurt those who have hurt me, I can’t push others far enough away so the hurt isn’t there, and I can’t mend my broken heart with angry words breathed from a toxic tongue. Real strength, real peace, real hope, comes when forgiveness is breathed in the broken parts of life. Do we stay? Not always. Do we come back? Not always. Do we learn? Yes. But do we risk our own hearts being diseased by someone else’s brokenness, yes, if we try to outbreak them.

Strength in this world might look like breathing fire, but this world is broken. This world isn’t working. You don’t have to believe in God to look around and say we have lost something. We are trading the real joys in life for temporary fixes. We are making ourselves feel better at the expense of others. So from a former dragon trust me when I say breathing fire hurts you just as much as it hurts the one who hurt you and if I hope anything for my daughter its not that she’s a doormat but a door that God uses to reach people for his glory. I haven’t even lived that long but I know hurt is in the equation no matter how we live.

So, Just like my kids look at me with big trusting eyes and ask me to love them and give them what they need God asks the same from me. Will I trust him to love me and give me what I need? Each day I have a choice when I get my kids up, will I teach them to breath fire in defense or will I teach her to trust in God not people?

Kind words are like honey-

sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Proverbs 16:24

  • Sherri - Thank you for writing this. Your timing couldn’t have been better. God has definetly used your words to speak to my heart. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Peterson - may we never breathe fire when Jesus only breathes life into us! What a great word today. Thank you TIndell! Miss you and love you!

  • Tiffany Daniels - Tindell,
    Thank you for these inspiring words! I love that you are thinking deeply about speaking truth into your little ones. I hug my 16-year tight every morning and pray God’s truth over her before she heads out into this broken world.
    May God use our every breath for His glory!
    Tiffany DanielsReplyCancel

My much wiser yet not that much older brother recently told me he hoped his kids hung around all broken people. He hoped they were friends with the people that needed Jesus the most. I thought this was weird because we are Christians and we (sometimes unintentionally) go to great lengths to make sure our kids are surrounded by “other Christians.”

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that our family goes to church each week in the hopes that our kids will grow up with a sense of community there. We hope that Claire goes from one program to the next making like-minded friends along the way… and Briggs too when he stops biting the other children. I realized recently when I faced with brokenness in my own world that my instinct was to pull my children far from it instead of embrace it and point to Jesus. Let me make a disclaimer here that I am not naïve, I don’t expect my kids to be a “light” at 3 or stand up for the bible at 5 but I do hope they don’t believe Jesus is only for the Christians at 15.  I do pray my kids walk in circles of broken people and realize the only thing they know different (lord willing) is the healer of all brokenness. I realized at the end the day I had to believe that brokenness wasn’t contagious it was already in the DNA. When I gave birth to each of my kids I believed they needed a savior (and now that the oldest is a two and half year old I pray she realizes the same soon).

However, the lie I slowly started to believe was that if I sheltered my kids from brokenness they wouldn’t experience it themselves. If I sent them to top tier schools and provided them with the perfect Christian upbringing then maybe, just maybe, they would escape this painful word we hate to say….sin. That’s not the truth though, I am starting to realize that the more exposure I have to others sin the more I cling to jesus. The more I see that humans are flawed no matter how much I love and respect them then the more I grasp that I am not exempt. When Jesus said in romans that all had fallen short of his glorious standard, I think he meant not only me but my precious little babes as well.

So I was faced with a choice, pull away and protect or embrace and trust. I chose to trust that forgiveness doesn’t mean I am weak it means I know I have been forgiven. I am choosing to believe my God has written a story for my children that involves him, and the best thing I can do to usher them into that plan is to trust in a God who is worthy of our lives not just our Sundays.

S u b s c r i b e
S e a r c h