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Tindell Baldwin »

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.

I sat in a room tonight with 1000+ high school students and heard the story of a fellow leader. A beautiful woman who at 16 was a high school dropout, homeless, and with a history of abuse and alone. It was the cycle of poverty at its cruelest. She was then asked what would have happened if someone had come alongside her at 16 (or earlier) and offered her love and asked nothing in return? What would have happened if she had been loved instead of used? Cared for instead of taken advantage of? Looked after instead of constantly having to look over her shoulder?

With tears in her eyes she said. “Life, it would have meant life.”

And I thought didn’t he just describe the call of a Christian?

You see all too often I think we blame other people’s hardships on the cycle of poverty, pain, or poor choices. We brush away our call to step into other peoples horrific stories as nothing more than a flip chart on a government website.

When I think about my upbringing I think of my Santa Claus Christmases, my family vacations, and my daddy daughter dates. I think of prom dresses and the ability to feel secure and I wonder why I never saw the hurting around me. I wonder why I never came face to face with the abused and saw the incredibly opportunity I had to help? What I failed to see was that while the cycle of poverty might be hard to break the cycle of entitlement is iron clad. I never saw the hurting because I never had to. I grew up believing (and not because I was taught this) I was just entitled to certain things other only dreamed of. I grew up believing that the only person I had to worry about was myself. I relished in success and blamed others for my failure. At my core I just expected life to be good to me.

Then I got to know Jesus and the hurting around me started to collide with what I said I believed. I saw why my family did certain things like help others, befriend the friendless, and give generously. All the sudden the people I most greatly respected didn’t have things they had a heart posture for others. All of the sudden I didn’t want a life headed for comfort I wanted a life headed for Jesus. I wanted to be made a fool if only to be told by my savior one day, well done.

However the cycle is hard to break. When we had kids suddenly I wanted to keep the cycle going. I wanted to pass down the sheer coincidence I was handed at birth. I wanted my kids to never hurt but when I started having to tell my two year old about Jesus I realized she wouldn’t buy into a savior that kept her comfortable. Why send a blameless man to die on a cross if only to rescue a few?  I realized that the best conversation I could have would be a faith lived out and not at the sacrifice of my responsibilities but with the prayer that God would live in my home.

I don’t want God to be the dormant cross hanging on my wall, I want to feel his breath on my family like you feel a sea breeze. I want him to change us. Sure I want good things for my kids but what I really want is a life full of purpose not things, a life filled with the hurting colliding with the blessed, and a life where they hear from God and they just say yes because faith without deeds is dead and I’m not ready to bury mine just yet.

I realized today that this past month marked two years of Popular being released. It wasn’t a momentous occasion or anything (I mean I ate 12 cookies but that was pure coincidence) but I realized I’ve learned more over the past two years about myself than I really care to admit. Part of that stems from the fact that I’ve had two babies since Popular was released (geez) but a lot of it had to do with expectations and real life colliding and since I get a number of emails about writing and girls dreams for helping others I wanted to share some of the things I wish I had known.

  1. You define your success. Before Popular ever hit the shelves my dad asked me what would make me happy in terms of book sales. I didn’t have a number I had an idea, I wanted to hear that my story was making a positive impact. I genuinely prayed for that God would turn lives towards him with my story. It only took a few months before emails/messages/even a few baptism videos that left me in tears came through saying God had done just what I had prayed he would do (imagine that) and I was floored.
  1. Success is alluring. See here’s the thing about predetermining what success looks like its great until you start looking around, at other author’s sales, their speaking platforms, or their latest endorsement. Just like anything in life when we look around we can always find someone better, more talented, and more business savvy (or at least someone without so many tiny people calling them mom). Suddenly I felt fifteen again and begging to be in some allusive cool Christian crowd. When I looked to others to tell me I was successful instead of what God called me to be faithful in then I always came up short.
  1. If God has called you he will be faithful but faithful doesn’t mean easy. I have always believed this to be true except for the easy part. Easy, my friends is rarely the case. I generally know I am aligned with Gods plan when I am the most uncomfortable and begging for his guidance. I worry when life gets easy not because I think God wants me to be in pain but because being faithful to the call of Christ should hurt a little. If we are truly supposed to be “hated” by the world then we should ache (john 15:19). We should ache from the weight of the gospel and the weight we hold to spread it.
  1. Say the hard stuff. The world doesn’t need more politically correct Christians, the world needs more Christians who know what they believe and can live it out in love. Preaching the gospel should not be popular. If Jesus wasn’t widely accepted why in the world would we expect to be?? Now, when I say the “hard stuff” I do not mean your opinions because heaven knowns we don’t need more opinions streaming through social media. Truth is hard, it is messy, but (not be too predictable) it will set you and so many others free. Truth lies in the words breathed onto the pages of the bible you might have laid down long ago. If you truly want to have a message then pick up your bible. Our words are meaningless and can only lead others astray without the backing of truth.
  1. Get some Godly confidence. A dear friend of mine who I met while she was helping me launch Popular told me right before we were about to get on a conference call that I needed some Godly confidence. I knew what she meant. I had the odds stacked against me and many times in the publishing world wanted to hang my head and slide through the shadows hoping no one would notice I had slipped in by mistake and throw me out. I was one of the youngest authors on both my agents and publishers roster and really did feel this voice in my head saying on repeat, “You don’t belong.” It wasn’t Gods and my friend was right, I needed to be confident because at the end of the day I knew who had called me to this crazy journey and could be confident in HIM not in myself.

 So there is my soap box. Thanks for letting me share.

  • Cheri Hardin - Thank you for sharing your thoughts an experiences.ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Minassian - Tindell- Been meaning to comment on this post for a while now. As a fellow author-slash-writer, I resonate with so much of what you share here. The temptation to base success on comparisons is suffocating sometimes. Praise God for His patience with us! Keep doing what you’re doing, sister!

    xo
    jessie minassian
    http://www.LifeLoveandGod.comReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Thank you Jessie! I’m so glad it could be encouraging to you, writing is a weird thing sometimes always nice to know someone understands. I need to get your book I love having recommendations for girls!ReplyCancel

Claire has been having nightmares for a few weeks. She wakes up screaming and runs out of her room. She crumples in a puddle outside my door where I meet her, scoop her up, and soothe her. I rock her in my arms and tell her shes safe. Over and over again I tell her she is safe and she believes me. I put her back into bed rubbing her hair and singing her favorite Christy Knockel’s song, “with my roots deep in you i’ll be the branch that bears the fruit and though i’m small i’ll still be standing in the storm, its all for your splendor Lord.”

We have a ritual where if we are in a situation she is unsure of she turns to me and says “mommy keeps me safe?” and I smile and say “that’s my job baby, you’re always safe with me.” But what if I couldn’t? What if America was living in the same terror as the countries around us imprisoned by ISIS and I couldn’t tell her I could keep her safe because girls her age are being taken and sold for unspeakable purposes? What if when here big hazel eyes looked up at me in terror I couldn’t do anything but watch? I’ll tell you what I would do, whatever necessary, even to my own death to protect her little life.

But it isn’t our kids, is it? I sit on the other side of screens and hear about the terror and anguish and then I turn it off hug my babies a little tighter and thank God I live in the US. I don’t want to anymore though. I don’t want to numb out to all America has to offer so that I can ignore the cries of mothers around the world who can’t keep their babies safe. If God is truly near to the brokenhearted then isn’t the closest way to pursue his heart to be near to them as well. I wonder if on the days my heart feel so far from God is because I’ve so distanced myself from his hurting children.

Right now donating funds seem like the only way to help even though it seems so nominal. I am still praying about what else can be done (and am open to suggestions). The bible says that faith without deeds is dead and sometimes I feel paralyzed by the idea that i’m missing the real thing, that my faith doesn’t need to be written out but worked out.

I always have parents ask me how to get their kids outside their bubble, how do you get a teenager to see that the perfect prom dress isn’t quite the chart topping news they think it is. I think we do it the same way we remind ourselves that our world isn’t the only world. We collide it with the big picture, we tell a story bigger than picket fences and perfect Christmas cards (not that any of those things are bad), we step outside the comfortable and embrace the messy painful part of life. We hurt with others even if their pain doesn’t come close to our world. 

I got some disappointing writing news recently in the midst of what I hopped was book number two and I started to feel really bad for little old me. I started to wonder what was the point of my writing and a very clear voice said, “well not you.” I pray it never is. So I wonder if I am the only one feeling completely tired of hearing about the hurting but not helping the hurting. Am I the only one tired of Christian platforms instead of Christians in action?  Will you pray with me about what we can do…. and then do it. 

Here are a few ways to help, bottom of Ann’s blog explains more.

How We’re Serving Victims of ISIS

Into Iraq #1: Love in the Time of Isis

  • Lisa - Hi Tindell,

    I just read your post on Ann Voskamp’s blog and was so encouraged. I also live in Marietta and was wondering if there are any churches you recommend in the area. Thanks for writing about the realities of being a mother of young children!ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Lisa,

      We go to North Point Community Church and love it! Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9

But I am so tired.

Let us not become weary.

Weary at 1am and my two year old is crying at bedside from another bad dream. Weary at 5pm when dad isn’t home and the babes are cranky and I have been sick for five solid days. Weary when dinner is burned, plans are cancelled, and good isn’t so fun. Weary when I look around and wonder where the weeks are going, why the time seems to be both flying by and slowing down? Weary when water leaks through the ceiling from another steamed up bathroom and a coughing baby. Weary when another tantrum is thrown, another time out has gone wrong, and you have said share for the millionth time. Weary when you look around and wonder, what does this all amount to? Weary of being unseen, unappreciated, and undone.

In doing good.

Oh this good, this good that so many dream of. The good that fills my walls and my halls and my carpets with a thin layer of graham cracker crust. This good that seems so mundane and yet so weighty. This good that makes my heart burst and my head spin. This good who puts its chubby hands on my face and says “I love you more.”  This good that calls me to lay it all down. This good that is begging me to take the time to make the minutes matter.  The good of putting another one first. Of being last. Of speaking less. Of loving more. The good of being weary and yet so full. The good of choosing others over myself. It is not easy. It isn’t fun and its rarely pretty but it is good.

For at the proper time we will reap a harvest

The harvest of seeing fruit. Of watching my baby apologize and mean it when she hurts someone else. The time of smiles and joy unimaginable. The time when my work when my load will look different but possibly never easier.  A time when I will see my kids grown and settled. A time not even guaranteed. A time when I will see them trust Jesus instead of me.  A time when we will pray earnest prayers and ask hard questions. The harvest is coming and the only thing I can do is sow seeds along the way. A time is coming when I will miss the weary and long for the days when the nightmares weren’t real and I could still protect them.

If we do not give up.

How I want to give up. How I want to resign myself to throw in the towel and let the days take me over. How I want to forget that most every moment is meaningful and fleeting. How I want to escape in movies and numb out to the boring. I want to give up. I want to be mediocre and be ok with that. But the harvest is coming so I will not give up. I will find joy in the days that feel unending knowing that God gives rest to the weary and strength to the broken. Knowing God is merciful and gracious and kind and I will not grow weary in doing good. I will not give up this time or wish away these days, I will not let the lies win over truth. I was not made for better I was made for this, I was made to love well. 

  • Nedra Carr - Tindell, I was delighted at your contribution on Ann’s Holy Experience Blog. Thank you for willingness to share your life through this new book for girls. I pray that God will bless it and use if to further His work of saving souls – one at a time. I saw that your son’s name is “Briggs” and I had to ask you if how you chose that name? My father’s name was Briggs and I’ve been looking for another one ever since. There isn’t even one on Google! I’m a Georgia girl myself, pushing 70. Thankful for young women like you – full of His great love and giving it away – as wives, mothers and authors. It’s worth every moment. Keep giving thanks and live in His Grace.
    NedraReplyCancel

This will be my third mother’s day as a mom, so clearly I am an expert on all things mother.  I wish I could say it’s gotten easier, I wish I could say that the toddler tantrums and baby boy screams have molded me into a better version of me and while I’m sure they have, It’s also really hard. It’s really exhausting. Its hands on all the time and its weary work. It’s important, it’s a blessing, its godly work, but if at the end of the day you are bone dry and just really need a large glass of wine (yes I said wine) then you are not alone. If sometimes you snap instead of love and if sometimes you curse under your breath when you’ve been trying to get out the door for over an hour and the toddler is roaming the halls like a lost puppy… you are not alone. If you wonder what will get you through tomorrow and pray for friendships in the quiet hours of the night… you are not alone. If you feel a little lost in your own shoes, a little defeated by 5pm, or a little desperate by 7pm then you are not alone. If you cry for no reason, yell at your husband because of something completely ridiculous, or stare in envy at women whose bodies have not held babies you are not alone.

Isn’t that all we want to know sometimes, mother or not? Isn’t it true that life seems manageable when you feel like someone else is fighting with you, alongside you, or has been in the ring ahead of you? Don’t we breathe just a small sigh of relief when we know that we are not alone?  So perhaps the greatest thing I have learned in my three tiny years of mother’s day is that we must champion each other, especially in the baby years, we must not judge for differing ways or hold strong to our opinions on the best sleep methods. No. The greatest thing we can do for any mother is to shut our mouth, ask how they are, and then care. Don’t care because you have the same way of looking at things, don’t care because you think you will get points in heaven, care because you know it will make an impact. Care because we are called to love and there’s nothing better than going from feeling alone to feeling cheered on.

My mom once told me that “unsolicited advice is veiled criticism” and it stuck. Mostly because I am a loud mouth and have a really hard time just listening. My mom listens first and only offers opinions when asked. My mom has a beauty and grace that just skipped right over me. My mom has been the single greatest influence in my life and I really believe part of the reason is because she listened first and offered advice later. She loved first and never demanded anything in return. My mom has cheered me on whether I’m on stages or in labor rooms. From newborn cries to post-partum meltdowns she has always lent her applause to cheer me on.  Her love knows no bounds and it’s because she knows the greatest thing she can do is care.

What if we all did the same thing? What if we got off our mommy blogs (yes I see the irony in this sentence) and our soap boxes and just loved the hurting mom around us? What if we loved before we asked whether they do organic or regular food? What if we loved whether they let their kids cry it out or rocked them to sleep? What if the only real stand we took was the stand to love NO matter the method.

I realized early on that most baby decisions were not moral decisions but rather personal preference. I realized half of it was just deciding what was best for your family. With my first by the text book baby I had no mercy. I knew the best method and weary moms just weren’t doing it right (doesn’t God always humble the proud) then after having my son who doesn’t care whatsoever what “method” I use for sleep and still screams at night (at almost ten months.. pray for me)  I realized I didn’t want advice I wanted love. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone and I really wanted to know it would get better. I wanted to know I was doing an ok job even if the results weren’t the same as my by the book baby. I wanted to know I could do it.

So tired mom, you are not alone. You are doing an amazing job and your kids will one day sleep through the night without assistance (or so I’m told). If you can’t afford organic, can’t stand not to rock them, or are just doing the best you can THAT IS OK. God says,

Galatians 6:9 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 You got this.

 

mothers day

 (Me and my babes… you knew it was coming… the one on the right is deceptively cute)

  • Julie White - I love you Tindell! Your honesty is so refreshing! I wish I had known you when my children were young! I would have wanted you to be my best friend! Thank you for being real and for showing young women that you can tell the truth and glorify God at the same time! His strength truly overcomes my weaknesses. Jesus really is alive! You rock Tindell! P.S you have two of the most adorable kids ever! ReplyCancel

    • Tindell Baldwin - Julie,
      You are so kind! You have been one of the most influential woman in my life. Thank you for your continued support and love! I am blessed to know you. Love!!ReplyCancel

I am kind of sentimental… ok that’s a lie, I am sentimental to a fault. So when my mom told me she was cleaning out my old room and came across a giant box under my bed of high school crap I was scared. I liked to take way too many pictures, keep notes my friends wrote me in class, and save any and all journals. I was a super dramatic writer back then (glad I grew out of that…). She delivered it recently and it has been sitting in my garage for a few weeks (like 8 because I am also a huge procrastinator) until today. It’s Sunday and the kids are asleep and my husband doesn’t sit still well so he decided he wanted to clean out the garage. I walked outside to him trying to sort through said box. I assured him that this was in fact, the worst idea he’s ever had (and we’ve been married for 6 years) and told him I’d go through it. I quickly had a giant mound of stuff that belonged in a trash can. I have never been more thankful for two things, that Steve Jobs hadn’t created the iphone and that social media wasn’t a thing. Praise Jesus for my black and white screen Nokia that contained one cool feature, the snake game.

There in a mound on the floor lay four years of my life… very well documented I should add. Four years of Friday nights, proms, school events, a single picture from that year I did track to get in shape for swim suit season, a graduation cap, a Britney spears CD, and various notes. Years of memories and I held onto to about 4% of it. I managed to save a few notes from my family that are irreplaceable, a few pictures of friends that were sweet, one prom photo of me and my mom, and a few bibles that have very crisp pages from never being opened. Only one tiny pile worth saving from four years of memories.

Sitting in my house with my husband in the garage and sleeping babies upstairs I am reminded why I was so passionate about sharing my story with young girls, because one day you end up where I am today, sitting in front of a mountain of memories and asking yourself if any of this is worth saving? Here I was sitting in front of a box full photos that I have to ask my husband not to look through, beer bottles in hand and bully button ring loud and proud (which FYI doesn’t look so hot after growing babies… just something to think about). Mounds of memories I’d rather forget. Mounds of memories I wish I could throw away as easily as I did the box they came in. image (2)

I can clearly see it, this lie Satan has been feeding us since creation, “God is holding out on you.” The lie that lead me into years of searching, drinking, regretting, and believing that I could do it better. The lie that seems so clear now that I can hear truth scream from every part of this little walk down memory lane that living for yourself is not really living at all.

I wish I could go back and tell tiny tube top wearing me that there was a really great man out there that I would one day meet and marry so walk away from the pointless relationships that will cause huge insecurities. I wish I could tell her about the kids whose little face would line the walls and fill her heart. I wish I could tell her to walk away from it all and into the life God had for her (and for heaven sakes put a full length shirt on). I can’t though, but somewhere along the way I decided I can tell you. I can pray that one day you won’t be unpacking the same box full or regret and wishing you had listened to little voice that had whispered “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Psalm 34:4-8

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

 

We were at a wedding this weekend and when someone we hadn’t seen in a while asked us, “so what have you been up to?” It’s a normal question, we were at a wedding, and you do lots of small talk at weddings. However, suddenly I’m searching, what have we been up to??  I’m assuming they don’t want to know about the mound of diapers, or the fever virus that just went through our house, or the rampant body issues that have surfaced after birthing two babies… really close together. Suddenly I want to make stuff up. I want to highlight things that aren’t a big deal and lowlight things that actually mean a whole heck of a lot to me. Suddenly I’m searching for something that makes we sound, well… important. The thing about being a mother though (especially one that doesn’t leave the house all too often) is that important hardly ever feels important.

Like the 1 million conversations I have daily with Claire about respect, love, and obeying. Or walking through our neighborhood holding hands while she tells me about her favorite colors and loving geese. To the outside world these are mere days, the passing of hours, but I know in my unselfish heart of hearts that these are the days that matter. I know these are the days that mean something. I know I am helping form her little heart and praying God makes it something truly beautiful.  I know that I will never forget the way her tiny hand fits in mine or the way Briggs sloppy slobbery mouth kisses my chin in his tiny attempt to tell me thank you. I know that to the outside world these are not important but in my kid’s world and even in my world these are terribly important.

IMG_0825So ben says so very honestly, “we are just in babyworld.” Oh babyworld, where the time moves slower and the emotions are bigger and the tears are frequent. Babyworld, where you say sentences that sound absurd and laugh at things you would have never thought was funny before. Baby world where you need prayers and friends but you learn more about “doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” than you ever really wanted to know. Babyworld. It’s not a real place and you always miss it when its gone (or so I’m told) but it will wreck your life with something awful wonderful if you let it and make you more into the image of our servant hearted Jesus than you cared to experience.

So my fellow babyworld friends, you are not alone. It’s ok if you don’t know what you’ve been up to when people ask. It’s ok if you start to sweat during normal conversation because most of your conversations are with a toddler and almost always involve animals or a Disney character. It’s ok if sometimes you don’t have anything to say that makes you feel important and it’s ok if no one gets that but you. Just don’t get trapped in the lie that I did and believe you aren’t doing something completely important. You are the most important person to however many little persons are in your home.  Don’t believe that just because it’s not quantifiable that it doesn’t make it completely worthwhile.

The guy kind of laughed at us, I’m sure he pitied us (he was older and didn’t have the joy of babyworld) and said, “Well enjoy baby world.” To which I later (ok much later) thought about and said to myself, oh I will.

IMG_0860

  • Anne Gernatt Kerr - Sweet Tindell,
    I love reading your posts. My baby world ended all too quickly but you take me back to some of the sweetest times of my life and make me smile at God’s goodness to me by letting me be a mom. Thank you for being so real and freeing us up in the process.
    Love,
    AnneReplyCancel

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