amazon matcha green tea powder

Tindell Baldwin »

“Claire, tell them what Briggs is.”briggs1

“He’s spicy nicey”

And then fake laughter ensues because no one thinks your kids are quite as funny as you do. Its our party line (we go to very different parties than you… think more grape juice less wine). It came from reading a book Briggs liked that said spicy nicey combined with a brief biting stint he went through (and by brief I mean 6 months of his only 20 month life). It was cute when Claire started saying it and you know if the shoe fits.

Sbriggs3ee my first born is the sweet rule follower, she tricked me into believing I had this whole parenting bit down, so then he brother came along a short 19 months later to humble the proud. My in laws laugh now because they knew what I only recently realized, about 99% of my parental success of my first born was pure temperament. She genuinely likes making people happy, she enjoys helping, and when I told her no she simply accepted that as an answer and went on her merry way (while I pated myself on the back and wondered why everyone said this parenting thing was so hard). Enter Briggs, my spirited second born, who I should have known wanted things his own way when he made his arrival 3 weeks early. He thinks “come here” means run away quickly and hide. He thinks “no” is something you shout back at someone when they tell you not to do something and he thinks all toys are “MINE.” In short he’s spicy nicey. The nice part is added because he also is a big cuddler, loves his sister a ton and shows it with large bear hugs turned tackles, and will makes everyone laugh. They are pretty perfect compliments and while I often find him in a corner trying to open the liquid Tylenol to make sure I know where the nearest ER is he is perfectly him.

If we aren’t careful we can label our children in two ways… good or bad. Claire by the world standards is good and Briggs is bad. I don’t agree, I think some kids are just better at faking it than others.
I want my kids to know even the best faker doesn’t fool God or meet Gods standard of holy. See we are all rebels, it is planted in our hearts from the fall, we want to run from God/authority and some of us just suck at faking it.

I was one of those kids, one of the bad ones. My parents affectionately referred to my brand of childhood antics as having “one of those.” It was not a mystery that Ibriggs4was a hard kid. I wanted to be obedient, I really did, but I was so curious and mischievous and I had three boys to help me accomplish such things. Now my parents were also good at praising my good qualities but this isn’t a blog post about that… moving on. I remember believing early on that I was a lot to handle. I was never a “typical” girl and I often wished I could be less loud and more graceful. I wasn’t. I was just me. I was ADHD to the max and never exceled greatly at school or sports. I know now that who I am is just fine (the whole writing a book bit helped… kidding). As an adult I’ve learned a lot of the things God created in me are the things he knew I would need for his kingdom. He has gifted me perfectly to pour my life back into him and I believe he has done the same with each of my children. I think all too often the qualities the world labels as “bad” are things God sees and says, I can’t wait to use that.

Claire and Briggs have been in swimming lessons and let’s just say Briggs hasn’t enjoyed it quite like Claire has. I was telling a few people separately that Briggs hated lessons and his teacher overheard me and said, “Don’t say that… he will believe whatever you tell him.” So simple yet so profound. My kids will believe whatever I tell them. If I send Claire the message that she can get by in life on her own as long as she keeps everyone happy she will never see her need for God. If I tell Briggs he is wild and crazy he will believe it and never understand that wild and crazy can be great things when aligned with the right passions. Whatever we tell them, they will believe.

I have stopped praying for God to make Briggs less strong willed or more compliant, instead I have prayed God would teach me to turn his passion and will into a man of God who stands for all the right things. Let’s be real the world could use more men like that. I don’t want my son to roll over in the face of injustice or cruelty, I want him to stand strong and yell NO right back at it.  I don’t pray that Claire keeps making my life easy all the days of her life, I pray God would be real to her, I pray she would see we can never perform our way to perfection. I pray she sees that mercy and grace are her best friends.  I pray she knows God loves her even on her worst day. I want my kids to always know, that they were perfectly created for God’s purpose. I tell Claire all the time she is beautiful and then I ask her if she knows why I think she’s beautiful. She smiles big and asks why, I tell her because God gave her a beautiful heart that loves others. God can make any heart beautiful, let us never forget it.

Ezekiel 36:26New Living Translation (NLT)

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.[a]

There used to be this song I loved by Mat Kearney that said, “I guess we are all one phone call from our knees.” One night sitting in bed with Ben laughing in Houston, about 6 months after our wedding, I got mine. It wasn’t one about sickness, or death, or injury… it wasn’t loss, it was disappointment. It was the news that someone you loved had let you down. It’s the news that life isn’t going to go how you pictured in your well written fairy tale. Death and loss require mourning but, disappointment begs for blame because the only thing to mourn is expectations. Death so often includes disappointment but disappointment is only the death of a dream. Disappointment wants to land on someone and often God gets our wagging finger instead of our broken prayers. Disappointment changes things enough to make an impact but not enough to stop life.

I didn’t weather mine well. I cried, I fought God, and I got angry. I sank into a real depression and begged God to change the situation instead of just asking him for guidance because the facts weren’t changing. We all have our dark night, our phone call that pushes us to our knees, the question is what will we do once we get there? Will we grieve it well and ask God for guidance or will we wallow and blame? In life disappointment isn’t a matter of IF it’s a matter of when. However, if we let our disappointment with life define our view of God we will always be disappointed. I was telling one of my high school students to weather it well when she told me of disappointment with a summer internship she had been praying for. Often it starts early, sometimes later, but it always comes, God promised it. He promised trouble and heartache but he also promised comfort and peace. We always have a choice with where we run when pain hits.

I have been thinking about the disciples this week (because I’m super spiritual like that… not) since its holy week and thinking about the days leading up to Jesus death. I have been thinking about Peter because I think I would have been the same way… so confident when promise was walking beside me and so disillusioned and afraid the minute it left. When Jesus was with him he knew he was the messiah, he knew he would walk with him wherever he went…unless he walked towards death then Peter was gone.

We all have our line, the line that if crossed we question everything we once thought true about our faith. We all have our thing that we hold onto and say, “I trust you… just don’t touch this.” I won’t lie, mine is my kids and husband, and if anything were to happen to them I would have a hard time believing God was good. Even though that moment could be minutes after I write this. Our confidence in God can be wavering when we don’t know the end of the story. Peter only believed again (and died for) who Jesus said he was when Jesus did something no man could ever do, he beat death. He walked out of a grave and when Peter saw the end of the story he was no longer disappointed by previous circumstances. It’s so hard to trust God in present disappointment when we don’t know the end of the story. We don’t know if anything will ever change.

Romans 5:3-5

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

In one of my current favorite books Make it Zero (click link to see it) a woman, I got the privilege to meet, shares the story of her disappointment and devastation after her husband left. She said God whispered to her, “Grieve this trauma well because I’m going to use it to accomplish something you can’t even imagine” and she does and he is faithful. It’s an incredible story… you should buy the book. I think this is God’s invitation into life’s greatest disappointment. “Whether it well,” he whispers and “I’ll use you greatly” because we always have two choices, we can become bitter or we can become better prayers.

Disappointment will happen no matter where your hope lands. I’d rather let mine be used and thank the good Lord that his redemption and mercy can turn some of my greatest disappointments into the markers where I saw him show up the most. During the depth of this heartache in Houston, TX  was also when God asked me to write my story for him. In the midst of my pain he called me to his great purpose. I’m so glad I trusted him even though my story is still being written. The truth is we never leave this earth without first tasting far too many of our own salty tears but the other truth is God is trustworthy no matter what life hands us. This week especially we can nail our disappointment to the cross knowing that hope will walk out of the grave.

Come broken hearted
Oh, sinner draw near
Earth has no sorrow
Heaven can’t heal
-David Crowder
  • Amanda - Tindell, thank you for this wonderful reminder of how we have a God who is our hope and in Him we can trust especially when those hurricanes make landfall unexpectedly in the midst of our lives and nothing seems to make sense. I certainly have had disappointments or life shattering moments in life that I didn’t always “weather too well” but one thing I have learned is that even in the darkness the light of Christ shines to lead the way I just need to pick my head up long enough to catch that glimmer at times and follow it. We may question, we can wonder what it means but one thing I know, even though I can’t always see it, is “God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (romans 8:28) and very often as you say in the darkest hour is when we see God show up the most and through that we can live out our purpose in Him.ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Amanda,
      Yes this is so true! Thanks for reading! Glad you could be encouraged.ReplyCancel

After my first child I called my mom and said, “ok how did you do this?”

When my second child was born I called my mom crying and said, “no seriously how did you do this??”

DSC_3023_2She comforted me, told me I’d survive, and to push on. That’s pretty much all you can do some days. The fact that I grew up with three brothers didn’t mean much as a kid, it was my normal. I never looked at my mom in awe and said, wow I can’t believe you have managed four little lives so well. As a kid you know your normal and are blissfully unaware of the actual reality of adulthood, I always thought it consisted of bossing others around and eating lots of candy. My brothers and I told my parents once we thought they had so many of us so that they had someone to do all the chores. I think their exact response was, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.”

Something magical happens when you become a parent though; you get this new found perspective known as empathy. All the sudden it’s really impressive that you had a childhood filled with love and that you’re mom managed to keep her sanity while raising three boys… and me. I have often wondered how my mom did it so well because my brothers and I have all said if we could give our kids a portion of the childhood we had we would consider the grade on our parent report card to be a big fat A+ (which would be impressive since I’ve never managed to ace anything in my life… including gym).


Recently I asked my mom after a particularly stressful day how she didn’t lose her temper at us daily. Again she laughed, “I did.. a lot.” I couldn’t comprehend it because my memories involve love, laughter, trips, more laughter, and a lot of family dinners. Isn’t it amazing though how love really does cover a multitude of sins?

My parents had a hard marriage, hard finances, hard illnesses, in fact they had a hard everything but they loved us all so much we didn’t feel it. They shielded us from the realities of their world by pouring enough love into our tiny ones.  I didn’t know until I graduated from college the real heartache my parents had endured to make our childhoods so incredibly wonderful. They chose us over themselves, they worked hard to provide, and they sought the lord for wisdom.

I was searching for the words to describe how this could happen when I realized it was grace. God gives us so much grace in raising our kids. I am often so concerned that I am screwing my kids up. I should be more patient, I should do more crafts, I should turn the TV off more, etc, etc, etc, when I realized that I devote most of my energy to making sure my kids have a childhood worth remembering. Grace covers the rest. Our worry often blinds us to the really amazing things that happen under our roofs every day. Like when my daughter tells me she helped a kid who got pushed in class, or my son lisps out I love you when I put him down, or a million other incredible things that happen because we love them enough to make an impact.

I think sometimes we need less rules and more grace, sometimes we need to expect less and love more, sometimes we need to get to the end of day and thank God that he fills in the gaps in our parenting. The task of parenting is so daunting that my prayer has become, Lord just convict me when I’m doing it wrong… and he does. The truth is adulthood is hard, seasons suck sometimes, illness happens, conflict happens, and life isn’t nearly as beautiful as I thought it was when I was five and we will fail our kids. We will yell when we should comfort, we will discipline when we should let go, we will screw up but his grace is sufficient for our children’s hearts just as much as it is for our own grown up hearts. Praise him for that.


  • Taylor - Really great post Tindy and amazing truth! I resonate 100% in what you are saying. Some days, all I can remember is how I failed as a parent. God’s grace better be HUGE to cover my screwups. The amazing thing is that it is. I’m thankful for that and it gives me hope! Love you, TayReplyCancel

  • Karen - My son just turned 13, and has decided he wants to be the class clown in junior high. I have been to the principal’s office a few times for the school year. Every time I go, I cringe inside, because I feel like I have failed the parenting test. The last time I couldn’t get to the car fast enough, before the tears started to spill. To my dismay, he said that he didn’t think the meeting was that bad…..I said ‘What!!!!!’ and doubled his punishment. Sometimes, I try to think back to his baby and toddler years, and try to figure out when he fell on his head, because clearly, all the good common sense has been knocked out! Then there are those sweet and precious moments, when he just comes up behind me and hugs me and says, “mom I love you.” My heart melts. I know that, that is God’s grace in my life, manifested in my son’s proclamation of love. It also gives me hope that I am not a terrible parent, and I haven’t done anything that will scar him for life. Thank you Tindell, for sharing. Your article made me smile!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy parker - Thanks so much for your encouraging reminder! I’m so grateful that God is full of love and grace and never lets go! I’m a mother of 4 (ages 25-15) and He reminds me daily that His plan is perfect! My husband and I look forward to each of your messages! Praying for you and your sweet family! Thanks for being real!ReplyCancel

  • Anna Etheriedge - Loved this! Sparked a great conversation with my 2 youngest on the way to school. We laughed and laughed at what they remember… a lot about their dad being there at night; antics of putting them to bed. And I used to think they’d just remember me with them ALL day long homeschooling, Hah! GraceReplyCancel

  • Denise Noble - Hi, Tindell!
    What a beautiful blog … I am wanting to sit here and read and soak in more, but I am hearing my daughters waking up and stirring upstairs! 🙂 I have 3 girls, 13, 11, and 7. We go to North Point, and my oldest, Andie, and I serve in Room #110, your daughter Blaire’s room! What a sweetheart she is. I didn’t make the connection until just recently! I just finished your book … wow, so powerful. Thank you, thank you for sharing your story. I have a heart for young women as well, and I work with Anni Keffer on Young Women of Influence … she recently reached out to you to see if you would speak at our next event in Alpharetta in Jan. 2017. God works in mysterious and amazing ways! Anyway, would love to meet you, and will be in Waumbaland this Sunday!
    Have a great rest of the week!

    • Tindell Baldwin - Denise,
      Thank you so much! Claire loves Waumba land so much. I’ll make sure and say hi next time I drop claire off!
      God Bless,


Claire came bounding into my bathroom as I got ready to leave the house, wearing her favorite footed penguin pajamas, she smiled shy at me and said, “Mama do I look pretty?” It was such a simple question but I knew it meant everything in her tiny world. I smiled, wishing all questions in life were this easy, “you look beautiful sweetie, and you always do.” She smiled big, playing with her hair, I had given her just the answer she was hoping for. She sat and watched me finish my makeup and brush my hair one last time informing me that she too needed red lip gloss. I laughed, gave her a little and told her to go show daddy, waiting to hear the oohhs and ahhs that ensued. I loved moments like these where she gave me such an easy opportunity to affirm her in the simplest yet profound ways. Memories filled of me asking my mom that very question as I watched her get ready for her dates with my dad. I would sit in her bathroom on the edge of the tub and wonder if I would ever have as much beauty and grace as my momma. 

Aren’t we all running around the world asking others to answer important questions about us ever so silently? How many times have I walked into a room begging for someone to give me the same answer, “yes you are beautiful, yes you are valuable, yes you matter.” We are all plagued by questions we need answering but if we are not careful we can place our fragile identities into the wrong hands.

It’s easy to spot young, the daughter desperate for love who runs into the arms of a boy who is only looking for lust… if only her dad had looked up from the TV to tell her what her heart needed to hear. Or the boy picking a fight so someone will tell him he is man enough. The adult versions are even less pretty, grown men needing all the right flash to tell you they are worth something, woman with all the right gossip so they won’t feel like such a fraud and all along the way we are asking, am I worth something, am I pretty, do I matter?

Where can we safely take questions of such magnitude?

One of my favorite artists is Sara Barellies, so much so that I booked a couple of tickets on Cheapo Ticketing and went to her concert 37 weeks pregnant with Briggs and all I cared about was making it through that concert and not being rushed to labor and delivery. I managed to make it through… then promptly gave birth two days later (winning). My absolute favorite song of hers says “does anyone know how to hold my heart?” What a question. Does anyone know? Nope. I have yet to find a man or woman on earth who has the ability or the selflessness to take my fragile heart and hold it with great care. I have yet to be able to trust in anyone but him.

The thing is, I have the absolute best people around me, top notch friends and family who love me well but they have almost all let me down in some way, just as I have them. I don’t know anyone who can hold my heart. I only know one who went to the cross to win my heart. I only know one who is safe to ask life’s questions to.

Am I pretty? I created you in my image. (Gen 1:27)  It’s my breath in your lungs

Am I worth loving? I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeramiah 31:3) I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:4)

 Do I matter? You are fearfully and wonderfully made, (psalms 139:14) I know the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30) and I spoke creation into being. If you trust me to begin a good work in you I will see it to completion. (Philippians 1:6)

Who will protect me? I will be within her, she will not fall. (Psalm 46:5) Though enemy’s surround you I will spread my wings over you and protect you. (Psalms 91:4)

The only safe place to run to with the questions that call from within our beating hearts is the one who made our heart beat. You are enough. You are loved. You matter.  As much as I want to be able to affirm everything in my daughter, son, and anyone else I love I know I will fail. My words will never be enough, the hole where affirmation should go will gape with questions until we place our heart in the hands of the one who said, It is finished. Our inadequacies will eat at us and we will ask all the wrong questions to all the wrong people until we believe there is a God who loves us enough to endure death, even death on a cross, to give us what we never deserved in the first place.

  • D - This is amazing! Thank you very much for sharing!
    As an adult, I read your book, and saw myself in many of the pages. Thank you for sharing your story!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - Thank you Tindell, for reminding us that God’s love and faithfulness is more than sufficient. All we have to do is believe with our whole heart, mind, and spirit.ReplyCancel

Something wonderful happened last week, my oldest niece Norah put her hope in Jesus. Kristian said something so beautiful when he texted the family that has had me thinking. He said, “The darkness can’t have her, she belongs to the light.” What a proclamation to be able to make about your daughter. I pray all the time that one day I will get to experience that with my kids because I know firsthand, EVERYTHING in this world pales in comparison to being loved and found by Jesus. However, I also know firsthand that choosing Jesus is a daily thing.

I have had this question though that has nagged at me over the past year, can the darkness win? Not even in my own life but in so many of the people I love. Can the darkness take you over even after you know and love Jesus? Can the world be appealing enough to lure you back to the lies you once saw so clearly as lies? The more I experience life the more I think we are settling for a water downed version of Jesus.

This weekend I served at our churches my life for high school kids which is essentially dnow if you were raised in a traditional church like me. The weekend was about dating and purity so needless to say there wasn’t a dull moment. Then on the last night they extended two invitations, one to know Jesus for the first time and one if you’ve walked away and need to come back to the purity God is calling us to in dating relationships. I saw one guy in the front weeping as he accepted Jesus for the first time, his group was embracing him (I was also weeping because I have kids now and I cry a lot). I’m sure his prayer was that life would be different from then on, but as the second invitation was made even more hands went up. Hands that already knew Jesus but had chosen something less, hands that once wept the same tears as they met Jesus for the first time. Hands that made promises and prayed prayers but Monday came and life came, and school came, and the darkness looked grey and appealing.


I kept thinking about these kids who put their hope in Jesus for the first time and I wanted to warn them, Monday will be hard. School will be the same, your friends won’t have experienced the same thing as you, and you will wonder if the tears and the prayers meant anything. You will wonder if the light is really worth fighting for. The darkness cannot claim you on the other side of earth but here you will still face earthly temptations. Jesus promised us troubles and heartache. Here you will have to face the same temptations as everyone else chose to honor God even when you’re the only one.

You will have to decide if he is worth living for when finances are tough, when your single, when you are lonely, when you are made fun of for choices you make, when your marriage is tough, when your family isn’t what you pictured, when your career isn’t all you dreamed, and the diagnosis isn’t good. We all have to decide if we will let the darkness take us over or will we believe God is who he says he is. The darkness always comes for us, it whispers lies that feel true and ask you to walk away from the God who loves you. It makes promises it can’t keep with temptation that looks appealing.

I truly believe Jesus isn’t just our get out of hell free card, I think he is so much more.  I think he is inviting us into our best life here. A life filled with so much more purpose than just temporary happiness.  I think he is worth choosing no matter what your circumstances are. I think he gives us hope in the midst of heartache and peace in hard days but we have a choice, will we waste the life we have fumbling between the dark and the light or will we live on fire for Jesus…no matter the cost.

My glittery red nail polish has chipped off just in time to paint on the gold that comes with ringing the New Year in. It’s always this time of year you get all reflective and weepy about where you have been and where you are going. You dust off the resolutions from last year and see how you did… I managed to stick to one of mine… not getting pregnant in 2015. It’s a weird one I know but I wanted to enjoy this year fully with the two kids I had. Plus I was a little bit sleep deprived up with a newborn last year and swearing off this whole big family thing. I have since reentered crazy town thinking and recently told ben I will weep when all our kids are out of diapers (he looked at me like I just said I wanted to be vegan).

The end of the year is always so monumental but I never quite understand it. Like the mark of a new year will change all the good or bad we did last year. We all want fresh starts. We want to dust off the old and embrace the new but I, like so many others, have a hard time doing the work it takes to embrace the new. My other goal last year was to finish this second book that has been building inside of me for the past year. I dreamed of have those 50,000 words ready to submit when 2016 rolled around, or even better, having already submitted them. However I didn’t know what 2015 held when I made the tiny promise to myself to finish what I started and I found myself halfway through 2015 putting life on pause again to face reality that was casting a dark shadow over my dreams. I found myself wallowing in reality instead of chasing my dreams.

Life never seems to go as planned. This year all I wanted to do was be a better blogger. That sounds silly but I have been pretty careless about something I care so much about. Not blogging… writing. This is where I work out the kinks in my voice and learn how to trim a message down to 1k words. However my writing is kind of like a tornado, I ride the storm, spend 30 minutes hammering out my thoughts, read it once over, then press publish not caring about the fact that I average 10 grammatical errors per post. I hear that’s frowned upon. I wanted to be more intentional with this space even if it’s mostly for me. Well, when I sat down to write out this post my computer died… and it didn’t come back to life. I had to laugh. I fired up my old computer, thanked God I married an engineer who is worlds smarter than me, got him to save my old files and started out again (hence why this post in being published in February).

Life never seems to go as planned which isn’t always a bad thing, the unexpected twists are often the best parts of our stories. The bottom line is always the nagging question of, do I trust God with my plans? Am I willing to say this is what I want but Lord your will not mine. It’s scary sometimes because God is big and powerful and we like control. However, if we believe the right things about God we are much more willing to lay our plans at his feet without fear. If we truly believe he is good we can make plans with open hands knowing what he has is always better.

That has never felt more real than where I am right now in life. I seem to be constantly asking what is next. For me, for my kids, for our family,” God where are you leading us” seems to be the question I mutter every night as I close my eyes. I have dreams, desires, and plans but more than that I want his purpose and his passions to be poured into my heart. My plans without his guidance won’t be what I imagine. My dreams without his heartbeat won’t be the right dreams and my desires will become selfish if I don’t align them with his. I know my story will be so mundane unless I give him permission to wreck it all.

So as we enter the second month of 2016 I am wondering if we can hold loosely to all the dreams we came up with as January 1st came crashing in. Because here is what I know, this year will hold wonderful moments and disappointing ones. We will see dreams come true and some will come crashing down but if we know where we place our future and our hope we can breathe a little easier because he is the same yesterday today, in the good and in the bad.



  • Anna Etheriedge - Hi Tindell, I’m still out here reading 🙂 Always smile when you post and can’t wait to read your thoughts. Too many years apart and just a few kids… I feel such a kindred spirit. I always laugh somewhere and you make me remember the “little days” so well. Hang in there, BIG families rock, especially on this end! Love to you and Ben and your preciouses. PS Our recovering-addict is marrying in March!!! To God be the Glory for All He has done! Can’t wait for book2ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - Anna,
    CONGRATULATIONS! How wonderful! Thanks for being such a faithful reader! Means a lot!

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,

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