Tindell Baldwin »

I used to think I wanted life to be easy. I pictured my perfectly behaved kids in my pottery barn house with no problems and eating brownies a la mode in bed over a good movie (ok I did that last night). I remember thinking to myself oh wont that be magical.

Sometimes I look back at our life before kids, before chaos, before schedules and sound machines, and I think man that was easy. Or I think about college, where I never scheduled an 8AM class cause that would require a bedtime before 3AM and I liked to stay up watching friends and hanging out with my roommates (I was a real over achiever back then). I think back on those times and I say man that was so easy. Yet, I was so ready to graduate and get married and get out of college, my best friend and I have joked that if we could go back to the college version of ourselves we’d scream “slow down… you have the rest of your life to be a grown up”. Somehow though I thought marriage and babies would be like Johnson and Johnson commercials… it isn’t, it’s more like The Walking Dead. I joke… some days it really is magical and some Saturdays I smile and look at my life and wonder how on earth I got so lucky. The lie is this though in every season… the next stage will be easier.

In high school I thought it was college. In college it was college for a brief moment then it felt like marriage. In marriage I thought it was babies. In babies I think to myself that it will happen at graduation… of my last child. Life never starts being easy, we get moments of reprieve, lots of joy (if we choose it), but I don’t think this life was meant to be easy. I think it was meant to make us different, shape us more into our maker, teach us how to serve, learn to love the ordinary, and love in the greatest trails. I think God isn’t so much concerned with our ease but with our endurance and for some reason character comes in the hard times, in the tough choices, in the everyday battles. Character is built one lesson at a time.

My husband and I have been in a tough season, his work is extremely busy right now, I am pregnant and hormonal (enough said), our toddler has become…well… a toddler, and life has just been a little upside down. I am working hard to serve my family in the ways only I can which means I run my house well, put dinner on the table, and make our house the least stressful environment for my husband to walk into.  That might not sound like the picture I had in my early twenties and some days it’s not easy but its teaching me to run the race God has set before me, and to run it well, when its not glamorous and there’s no round of applause at the end. Because isn’t that the real test of our heart, how we handle life when no ones is watching or praising us.  It’s teaching me that easy isn’t what’s important. This won’t always be our life, I know a day will come when I would kill to have hungry mouths to feed and a little more chaos. For now though it is… and I can choose to rise to the occasion (generally I play eye of the tiger every day around 5pm for that extra burst of endurance (auburn fans will get it)) or I can complain. I choose to be thankful because I know I wont walk out of this season the same way I walked in.

The Christian life is a constant changing of seasons, the ebb and flow of dreams and desires, and the reality that our greatest joys in life typically come when we are serving others.  I have let go of easy because I know that’s not the goal and what a boring life it would be. Joy comes in all different ways, in all different forms, and I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Jesus had said, “sorry God the cross is too hard… I want easy.”

Hebrews 12:1-3

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;[c] then you won’t become weary and give up.

  • Ashley - this is a great post. I met you at Church on the Move’s United Night service. You probably don’t remember me but I’m the lady with the 7 month old little girl. I was telling my husband about your testimony and we are pretty sure he was at the same passion concert you were at that you talk about in your concert. I have only read your last post but I just wanted to say as a working wife and mother this hit home big time. Thank you for sharing your story and heart. This post encouraged me to keep doing the little everyday things even though there may be no “thank you” for it. I want to honor God and my family in everything that I do. I look forward to ready more of your posts.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - I wanted to check out your blog after meeting you tonight at the United Night at Church on the Move. You may not remember me, I was the lady that has the 7 month old little girl. I was telling my husband about your testimony when I got home and we are pretty sure he was at the same Passion Conference that you talk about in your story. I just wanted to say thank you. As a working wife and mother I needed to read this. I look forward to ready more of your posts.ReplyCancel

  • Tindell Baldwin - Thank you Ashley! It was so great to meet you and I do remember 🙂 Loved being at Church on the Move it was a great night!ReplyCancel

We have a toddler on the cusp of talking… or so I tell myself… mostly she points at stuff she wants and says “peazzz” which I’m pretending translates to please. Or she stands next to me, mostly when I’m cooking,and says “up” no matter what she is asking the urgency is clear because if I don’t respond, ask her to wait, or say no we are in the throes of a meltdown. It’s a really fun age (sarcasm intended).  What I repeat over and over though on any given day is, “claire be patient.” Whether I’m cooking her dinner because oh yea its 6 and she does require three meals a day or she needs water or wants to swing on the swing I am constantly saying “be patient”. Now before you call CPS I love my child and we honestly have great days but as any mom can attest you can’t do a million things at once so patience is key but since she’s the first born and most people jump when she says so 😉 she hasn’t quite grasped this.

But have I? Some days I throw up my hands and wonder why she can’t understand I’m going to take care of her. Dinner will be ready (I mean it doesn’t take long to heat up a hot dog…I kid she eats better than that… most days), she will most likely get to play outside, and I will take care of whatever other needs she has. I won’t give in to her every wants because I’m her mom and I love her more than that but she will always be clothed, fed, and loved.

I won’t lie becoming a parent has revealed a lot more about myself than I’d care to admit on paper and as I impatiently tell my child to be patient I wonder if I’m being asked the same thing. Be patient in trials, hardship, struggling, questioning, and sometimes just downright pain because the God who loves me will always take care of me. I’ve never been great at the patient thing… in fact someone I worked with when I was publishing said “there’s no dreaming with Tindell there is only doing”. My motto tends to be why wait when you can do it now…. Like right now. However sometimes we are simply called to wait, wait in the unknown and trust that we will be taken care of.

I got to talk to a young girl who recently became a believer… she’s in a hard time. Walking away from a life into the plans God has for you isn’t always easy, in fact its hard and it takes well… patience. I told her it was going to suck (yes I said suck in church) because it did for me but I said what God has for her is worth waiting on and he shows up in our waiting. He shows up in our patience and provides just what we need when we need it. Sometimes we are waiting on friends, a spouse, a job, or just life to get better and the best thing I have learned to do it trust that in the waiting we have his company and its always worth it.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

  • Pam Wilson - This was for me today. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Susan P - patience is a tough one. But oh so needed in this world. I love that you can see God’s truths in your every day life Tindell! I heart you.ReplyCancel

  • Tara - Tindell, thank you so much for writing with such authenticity and honesty. “My motto tends to be why wait when you can do it now…. Like right now. However sometimes we are simply called to wait, wait in the unknown and trust that we will be taken care of.” <~ That is so me. And today I needed the reminder to wait and trust He'll take care of me. Thank you again!ReplyCancel

I’m what my husband affectionately or maybe not so much depending on the day, calls a “sharer”. Not in “you can have half of my pizza” kind of way but in the sense that if I find a book I love, a recipe that I thought was just amazing and yet easy, or even a shampoo that made my hair extra soft at a reasonable price you’re going to know about it. I almost feel bad for my close girlfriends, because while my husband loves me, he’s had to remind me that it’s frowned upon in important business meetings when your phone keeps buzzing with a second by second synopsis of your spouse’s day. This leaves my friends to hear about the amazing adventures of my crazy stay at home mom life that sounds something like “oh my gosh did you know cheerios are buy one get one free at Kroger and 2T pjs are on sale for 2$ at target (insert pic of pjs here)”. It’s a wild ride.

In all seriousness though this quality has served me well in SOME areas of my life, if I believe in something it makes me come alive even if to others it might seem mundane I can get as passionate about a great sale as I can about a sermon that changed the way I looked at life. As my husband will tell you there’s no distinguishing between passions, it’s just a oh my gosh kind of all caps experience. However heaven help the people left in the wake of an argument with me about something that I really believe in. It can be bad. I’m talking apology flowers to follow the outpouring of words that should not have come out of my mouth.

Luckily I’ve grown… because I’ve been married for almost five years, said words to family members I wish I could take back, spent a solid year in Christian counseling, and have a toddler that is currently a sponge and soaking up everything I say. I have adapted quite a bit and come to realize that while I have opinions that I hold so close to my heart about life, especially my faith and Jesus, what I also hold close to my heart is people. I believed God when he told me to love others so that means I must hold back and fight through the urge to speak even though as I told ben the other night “keeping in my opinions to myself makes me want to vomit” (did I mention I am also a tad over dramatic).

We live in a world of opinions but a world very devoid of unconditional love and what others need to see in me is not another set of opinions but a God who looks at them and says “Come to me I love you just as you are”.  I have learned that what I value over my opinions is my relationships and while my opinions can shut down others in a moment my love for them opens up doors to have discussions we might have never had before. Love does cover a multitude of sins, you know why? Because it looks at another person and says, it’s not about what you believe, what you’ve done, or where you stand on political issues, it’s about a God who sent his son to die for YOU and ME.

  • Pam Wilson - I can relate to the part about having opinions. The Lord showed me especially in relationship to my daughter who is away from The Lord to love her unconditionally. All the talking and trying to set her straight wasn’t doing anything but put up barriers. It’s been amazing to see the change when I have let go of my need to say it all!

    Thanks for being a “sharer”! I’ve been blessed reading your blog! – PamReplyCancel

  • Dianne - Another great post. Keep writing!ReplyCancel

  • Jeff - This is my wife. When a “sharer” tries to talk to a man wanting to be in his man cave, hurt feelings reign supreme.ReplyCancel

“Because your love is better than (my) life, my lips will glorify you” Ps 63:3

There in those words lie the truth I have been trying to wrap my brain around, because your love is better than (my) life, because it’s better than what I can make of myself, it’s better than the greatest love I’ll know on earth, it’s better than Christmas morning and 1,000 coffee dates with best friends, it’s better than knowing what tomorrow holds, it’s better than my comfortable life, better than my husband’s warm embrace, it’s better than a sweet hug from my baby girl. Its better? Would I really say that, even if some of it was born out of your love for me would I say it’s better?

Does our life scream the praise that your love is better? Or does our life scream the praise of a well-constructed reality?

Will my lips truly praise you in the storm, glorify you on the hard days, or sometimes harder; lift you up when everything else is going just right.

Do I have a message in me that truly believes than your love is better that what I can attain, the relationships I will have, or the family I will raise? This is easier when you are hurting or desperate or have come to the end of your rope. This truth feels real and right in front of you but when given the choice… will I lay my life at the alter of your love truly believing that what lies in that is better than anything? Believing that while it might not taking losing the things I most love in this world I would be willing for you because you are what I hold most dear?

Its fine when it was things that didn’t fully satisfy but what about the things that really make my heart leap. What about the passions I love and the dreams I hold so dear? Would I let it all go and run wild embracing that your love is better. Embracing that my dreams might be fully from you and my passions might be ignited with a greater flame fueled by your love for me but what if its years? What if the waiting isn’t what I was thinking, what if the years are longer than expected, what if my days look mundane to others and the only thing that keeps my heart beating is the consistency that your love is the same today in either my greatest joy or my darkest hours.

Whether it’s the days I doubt or the days I praise you with every breath that’s in me. Will I still believe that your love is greater than my own life? Will I still leverage your love for others over my greatest wants, needs, fears, and passions? Will it be enough? If the child never comes home, if the choices harder, the sacrifices bigger, if the loved one never returns, or if relationships are severed. Will I still believe your love is better than my own life? Will I really embrace that your love, your purpose, your design is greater than anything I could possibly build on my own? Will I glorify you with all that’s in me because I know there is nothing better to be worshipped?

  • Jenn Sorrell - Hi Tindell. I read your book and am so inspired by you. I believe you are blessing young people in a way that most cannot. Would you be interested in coming to South Forsyth FCA to speak? We could really use a light like you in this time in young people’s lives.
    Please contact me if you are available. Sorr9393@comcast.netReplyCancel

The streets were muddy; a stream of water rushed to my left and trash heaps littered every corner. Children played in the water that I didn’t even let get near my shoes and sorted through the piles of trash. I stared in awe, my childhood rushing back to me like waves of warm water. Memories of forts, tree houses, trampolines, lunch box notes, vacations, Christmas’s full of Santa clause, and then I look around again. I bet these kids didn’t even have lunch boxes, much less notes from doting mothers to perk up their hard days. Guilt and angst and a million other emotions were filling my heart to the brim, how can I be on the same planet as I was on yesterday? Nuzzled in my American dream how could I have complained about my car, my clothes, and Lord knows how many other useless things when this was going on a few plane rides away.

I looked at my fellow trip mates and I knew they felt it too, the power of the African slum, it could drain the believing right out of you while simultaneously showing you more about God than you ever knew.

The guide was talking while we walked explaining life in this place, a life of murder, stealing, and the likelihood that you would never leave this place. These kids, covered in dirty water and sifting through trash would probably never see anywhere better this side of earth and I muttered “God save them” with nothing more in my head than a heaven filled with children who once made their playground amongst the trash.

Our guide tells us that in the slums there is no word for future, he said life was lived on such an everyday basis they needed no word for future because they saw none. Something inside of me ached, a life without hope.

So here I sit 6 years later and this memory comes flooding back because of something my pastor said on Sunday, “We are living in a generation of hopelessness” and it clicked, we have taken the future out of it, we have created life that is lived on an everyday basis and when the future gets forgotten the hope gets lost.

See you and I we were made to ache for more, to burn with a passion for something further down the road and culture is squeezing that out of you. You are being told, and I am being told, that tomorrow doesn’t matter just live for today. So we live for today, we spend for today, we party for today, and we believe the lie that this is all that we have, and we ache.

This is not how you were created.

Job 8:7

Your beginnings will seem humble,
so prosperous will your future be.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put enternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

I tried to find a part of the bible where God said to live in the moment, don’t worry what consequences face you, but God and Katy Perry think very differently about how your life should look.

Because we were made with a future in mind, if Satan can take the future out of your life he can convince you that digging through a pile of trash is the best you can do. That’s what we are all doing apart from God, standing in a pile of trash looking for the treasure, but its all trash to start with.

The guy… he left. The party…. It ended. The high… it faded. The best friend you’d do anything for… found someone she liked better. The sport that gave you so much affirmation…. Its over.

But we keep grabbing, looking for treasure among the trash of this world in hopes that it might fill the desperate void that is screaming at you. As someone who has found her fair share of “treasure” among the trash let me assure you it won’t satisfy, it won’t give you a future, and it can’t save your life.

The thing about Africa that I realized in my short time there was that Africa knew it needed Jesus, they knew they were living in rubble, they knew that all they had meant nothing but you and I we have a hard time seeing that. We have prettier things, nicer trash, if you will, and we can fill the void with enough of today to forget about eternity. But in my gut, when I put the phone down, when I shut social media off, sometimes I feel the hopelessness. I can see it when I walk through the grocery store, go shopping at H&M or I read the news. I can see that we are trying to fill each day with enough so that we don’t have to think about tomorrow.

So where do the hopeless go when our future has been taken and our lives look dark? Well the way I see it (since you asked) is we have two choices. We can fumble around this world making the best of today and forgetting about tomorrow or we can run to God and believe he has paved a way for our futures to look vastly different.

I often think where I would be if God hadn’t reached into my pit of a life at 19 and put me on solid ground and I know because there isn’t too many places I could have ended up. I would still be drinking, I would still be dabbling in drugs, I would still be trying to make much of myself to fill the void, I would have been in a string of relationships that left my already battered heart in even worse shape and I would be hopeless because who can give you a future outside of God?

I got to sit in a meeting last night with a leader I greatly respect and talk along with my parents about how they managed to love me through this incredibly challenging season of life.

How did they keep parenting despite my failure to obey? How did they continue to pour into my life when I, metaphorically speaking, spit in their face? How did they believe in me when I was almost failing out of school and drinking? How did they…… love me?

We talked a lot, we circled around a lot of good practical points, a lot of formulas that were true. At the end of it all though there was one thing that spoke louder than the formulas, louder than the talks, louder than anything else.

Because Christ’s love compels us. (2 Corinthians 5:14)

Christ’s love the ultimate parent who came we deserved death, walked among us when we hadn’t cleaned up our life, and loved us when it cost him his life. The ultimate love that should permeate the very core of our heart and push us to love those who deserve no such thing. This is the only thing that makes the difference.

Yet while we were still sinners…. (Romans 5:8)

You see my parents are wonderful people, they are great parents, and they do have incredible wisdom but without the love of Jesus pushing them to deny a parenting style of performance for a cross of unconditional love they would have reached their human limitations. Because even the best of us have our limits. Without a model of grace when it was most undeserved and the belief that we received a love that transcended human understanding we tend to shut people out when they don’t perform.

I lived in a world that was based on what I could earn and what I could get from others but my parents modeled something different, they modeled a love that never left, and deep in my searching heart that was what I ached for. So when I came back to Jesus I finally understood what had been missing before I left my faith. I spent the early part of my faith trying to trade with Jesus, good works for a boyfriend, church attendance for friendships, and the list goes on. I was arrogant enough to believe I had something God needed. I wanted to swap my performance for his blessings but when I finally saw that I had nothing to give and yet he still held out everything I needed I came running.

I saw it because it was modeled for me. I saw it because despite punishments, disagreements, and even harsh words at the end of the day there was no line I would cross that would cost me the relationship with my parents. And that is exactly what Jesus holds out to us, arms wide, hands scared, he holds out an invitation to a relationship that can never be lost.

What is sometimes worse than the end, worse than the leering reality that whatever you’ve been striving for or aiming towards will come to a close? The empty bedroom of your first child who left the nest, the completion of a job you gave your life to, graduation day, or a final pregnancy, or the reality that it’s just the two of you. What can sometimes require more prayer and more pep talks than gearing up and closing the door one final time?

The middle.

The dreaded in-between where you are walking day after day towards a destination that seems unknown or far out of reach. The days that cycle in and out with a kind of mundane pace that makes even Friday lose its luster.  It seems to me that the days of crisis where you have to rise to the occasion and take on the challenge ahead are the ones that make you shine the most. Where it seems to be hard for me to be faithful is in the little. The Monday-Friday kind of days where I make the same breakfast that we’ve had every day and I wake up at the same time and I eat the PBJ for lunch. These days are the ones that make or break me.

See I can rise to the occasion and I can work hard to achieve dreams, I can handle family crisis and a friend who needs me desperately but I can’t handle Wednesday, where nothing of extreme importance happens but I just have to be a parent and be a wife and live faithful in the days in the middle, not bad days just normal days. Real life days. Days where I don’t have anything for social media and the most interesting thing I can tell my husband is about our daughters poop schedule.

The middle days make us faithful, the tiny steps you take towards showing grace to your toddler or having a hard conversation with a friend. The middle days are what make us because the pictures on our walls are just snap shots of high’s that followed a lot of in-betweens. The memory books are filled with the one week a year we spent in the beach and not of the 360 other we spent in our home doing everyday life.  There will be some but not all.

Yes faithfulness is built one choice at a time, one day at a time, one embrace at a time. The grace of life comes out in those quiet moments where no one sees your actions but God sees you heart. The real faithfulness is not in what we profess with our mouths but what we live in our homes or schools. The real hard stuff is the middle days where the choice is simply this, to live fully in what we already have. The middle days are the ones where we find real joy because we can see that God is present in the ordinary. Anyone can ride the highs of life but it takes a truly saved soul to love the ordinary, to know that grace and love is extended each day when we deserve no such thing. That, my friends, is anything but ordinary.

Last night I found myself in the shower belting out the chorus to the country song that says “it won’t be like this for long, someday soon they will be all grown up and gone these days are gonna fly by so baby just hold on, it won’t be like this for long”. I sang it loud and proud with the advice of every older mother echoing in my ear, “Before you know it they will be gone, enjoy each day.”  I always think that’s easy for them to say, their kids go to school and have friends and walk without running into the coffee table and busting their lip.

I have a one year old and the days don’t always fly by in fact sometimes I swear the minutes are longer than 60 seconds, especially close to nap time and when dad should walk in the door. Don’t get me wrong I love motherhood, I love it with a passion I didn’t know I had, but it’s hard. It takes discipline to be well… disciplined, and being thankful when dinner is burning and the baby is crying for the third consecutive hour and dad is stuck in Atlanta traffic well that my friends is an art.

Last time I spoke I realized that whenever I go speak I get a question that evokes the same answer. Last summer our pastor told the students in our church that greatness comes at a cost. It has stuck with me and I quote him on it about every time I with a new group of girls. They want to know if being a Christian in college was hard, they want to know if saving yourself for marriage is hard, and they want to know how to handle the everyday pressures of 18. I have the same answer, greatness comes at a cost. God is calling each of us to greatness but it will cost us something, for me it will cost my attitude, my desire to be independent, and sometimes my social life. To be a truly great mom will cost me. Which is fine but what we want to know is will it be worth the cost, yes sometimes quickly but sometimes it will be years. I don’t think I told my mom a true thank you for all she had done until I birthed my own little girl. I say thank you often now along with asking the same question of, “how did you have four of us?!”

To be a strong believer at 14, 15, 16 will cost you, in some areas more than others, but oh how you will gain. The road of the faithful is narrow and sometimes lonelier but the gaping road of destruction is well traveled and the destination is always the same. So yes in all stages of life we have a choice before us, at 16 it might be to skip the party and not sleep with your boyfriend but faithfulness is the same at all ages. One choice at a time we decide to be different. We decide to live the life God called us to instead of simply breathing.

For me it’s turning off the third episode of Sesame Street, laying my frustration at the cross, and loving my daughter at her fragile little age even when her absolute favorite word is “uh uh”(she hasn’t quite mastered no but I’m sure it’s coming). We surrender to the things we once thought would fill us up for the eternal things that promise to deliver because with Jesus we get to breathe in grace and love knowing there is hope in all things.

The good news is a life lived for Jesus is always worth the cost.

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