It’s complicated…

It' complicated

Four years and 2,700 miles separate the top two photos and the bottom two photos. The top photos (I just realized Tim is wearing the same shirt – ha!) were taken while Tim and I were dating – one at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA and the other in Yosemite. The bottom two photos were taken this Winter after we moved to Pennsylvania.

This little collage holds an ocean of emotions in its four boxes. There’s joy, gratitude, anticipation and love mixed with exhaustion, anxiety and fear. Sometimes I have a hard time looking back at photos from when Tim and I were dating. Not because they bring back bad memories; quite the contrary. I look at that carefree couple and envy their stage of life.

Their weight of responsibility was lighter. Less of life’s worries filled their minds. (And, because I’m particularly missing California right now, they had the beach at their fingertips.)

But that couple was just two pieces of rope inching closer and closer together. Their connection was just beginning. With every bill they paid together, with every move they made, with every tough decision, and who gets the car today discussion, those two ropes made a knot. Knot upon knot have made those two people closer, albeit more complicated, couple.

Every little thing that makes this stage of life complicated makes our relationship stronger, deeper. I’m over on Kindred Grace sharing about the power of complicated…

Since I didn’t date much before I met my husband (and by much, I mean barely at all), that particular season in our relationship has always been a favorite. Dating was fun. The thrill of getting to know someone can be intoxicating.

I’m not a naturally talkative person, but I loved staying up late discussing our families, our college experiences, and our faith. I also loved the doing of dating. We had season passes to Disneyland, so if we weren’t exploring our favorite beaches, roaming Barnes & Noble, or eating frozen yogurt, we were making memories at the Happiest Place on Earth. It was a fun and easy time, punctuated by increasing depth of attachment and possibility.

Continue reading The Power of Complicated


For reasons other than patriotism, July has truly been a month of freedom.

What often entraps us are our repeated offenses and that has definitely been the case for me. But, God has been faithful to soften my heart and bring me to a place of surrender with body image issues and contentment struggles that have previously stuck closer than a shadow.

Healing is a process, but the lightness of being I’ve experienced from accepting the freedom that God and His word offers is a gift.

A certain Samaritan woman is no stranger to both the sins that can shackle a soul and the freedom found in taking God’s hand. Her story is more relevant that I ever imagined. Read more about her story of shame, redemption, and hope on Kindred Grace {HERE} today! (You’ll also get to see a photo of my Elizabeth Bennet moment in Scotland…)


If the Samaritan woman’s story intrigues you, I recommend grabbing a copy of Paperdoll: What Happens When an Ordinary Girl Meets an Extraordinary God. Natalie Lloyd (who you may recognize as a columnist from Brio Magazine, my first magazine addiction) follows “Sam’s” journey to the well and her encounter with Living Water. She dissects the story in a way that makes it relevant and relatable to our society and culture. Natalie writes honestly and is a wonderful storyteller. The book includes great study questions, too.

Our worth isn’t wrapped up in what other people say about us, either. Our worth is woven into the fabric of God’s Word, into the ultimate truth that sets us free to be the unique, beautiful, godly women we were created to be.

Natalie Lloyd inPaperdoll

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For All Men

Maybe because it was my first Mother’s Day with a child, but I was particularly attune to all the sentiments expressed about the maternal holiday we celebrate every year. I began to notice a trend among the blog posts I was reading – the idea that not just women with children posses the qualities we honor in our moms on Mother’s Day.

Maybe because it’s Tim’s first official Father’s Day, but I have been hyper aware of not just WHO I celebrate every June but WHAT I’m celebrating every June. I honor my Grandpa, Dad, Step-Dad, and Uncle for being fathers to me and I honor them for being providers, examples, protectors, guiders, and comforters. However, those aren’t the only men in my life who have fatherly qualities.

My brother isn’t a father yet and he is loyal, sensitive, and hard-working, qualities that will make a great dad. Even before my husband became a father, he shepherded and cared for plenty of kids in the youth group. There are plenty of men who don’t have biological children who embody the character traits we will celebrate in our dads on June 15th.

I’m writing more about what actually makes a father on Kindred Grace today – won’t you join me there?

We celebrate fathers this month, but fathers aren’t the only men who should be celebrated. Men young and old posses the qualities we cherish in our God and in our fathers. 

Read the rest here!

The Hair Confessional

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a priest, sitting behind that grate, hearing people expose the darkness inside their souls? Well, you’re about to find out because this post is as good as me stepping behind that curtain and confessing a rather embarrassing sin. (Can you tell I’ve never actually participated in a legit confessional session?)

I’ve always had a thing about my hair. A thing I now know is pride. Aside from a misstep in seventh grade that involved uneven bangs and short layers, I’ve always had long locks. And those locks have always been a light shade of yellow.

I grew up in Southern California, where the seemingly endless Summer helped me retain my natural blonde, with a smattering of sun bleached highlights. The two things most people noted about my appearance were my height and my hair. Over the years I began to link my hair with any good vibes I felt about my physical features. In a sea of girls with blonde from a box, I also loved that my golden hue was natural.

Life post high school found me in the Midwest, where four distinct seasons meant less sun exposure and a slowly darkening mane. I still had summers in SoCal to help maintain my blonde, but it had made a distinct turn for towards the dark side. Those days were my first indication I may have put too much stock in my long, blonde locks.

As the years went by, and my geographical location changed from England to Missouri, California to Idaho, my hair has continued to change too. There were brief periods of time when I thought I could hang on to the sun bleached blonde of my youth, but our move to Idaho solidified my current honey hue.

In isolation, I don’t mind the color of my hair, but in comparison, I long for the straw instead of wheat. Tim has heard me bemoan my darkened strands more times that I’d like to admit. Multiple hairdressers have volunteered to add some highlights but I’ve always resisted the artificial solution.

Until last Friday. I got my hair colored for the first time.

The Hair Confessional

It’s been four days and I’m still not completely sold on the result, but I’m glad I did it. Why? Because the decision and process of highlighting my hair (which I realize is almost second nature to some folks, who are probably reading this thinking I’m a weirdo…) has shown a bright light into a dusty place in my heart that needs some cleaning.

Some observations:

  • I had let my hair become a source of pride. Part of the reason I resisted dying my hair was my inability to say I was a natural blonde – something I had previously worn like a badge of honor.
  • I had let my hair become part of my identity. Sure, hair color is listed on your driver’s license, but it doesn’t define your worth. I had attributed personal value to my hair color and, by association, where I grew up. I love Southern California and my hair had always been a reminder to me and others that I came from the Golden State. But my worth is not dependent on my hair or my hometown. I need to always remember that my identity is in Christ.
  • I had let my hair dictate my approval rating. This process was just further evidence that I care too much about what others think. Track with me here… I was always afraid that if I got compliments about my highlighted hair it would mean those people liked it better the that way which would mean they liked me better or thought I was prettier in an unnatural state. I didn’t want anyone’s approval to be based on something that wasn’t intrinsic to me. Convoluted, I know. And, even if they did, it shouldn’t matter. Again, my identity and value come from Christ, not my hair or getting other people’s approval.

“‘Go!’ God tells us. “Your heart has been untangled from the false distortions of love. You are no longer tied down by fears of rejection or disapproval or popular opinion. If you forget how much I love you, which you probably will, do not lose heart. Turn back to Me, and I will send you out again with a command: Love your neighbors as yourselves.”

Jennifer Dukes Lee in Love Idol

I don’t want to be tied down by a fear of rejection or disapproval or popular opinion. If highlighting my hair taught me anything, it taught me this: I don’t want a small thing like blonde hair to get in the way of experiencing the true love and acceptance of my Savior.

To learn more about “letting go of your need for approval and seeing yourself through God’s eyes,” pop over to Kindred Grace and read my full review of Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee. (There’s only two more days to enter the giveaway for your chance to win one of three copies of Love Idol!)

My Favorite Biblical Fiction {plus a giveaway!}

Fact to Fiction

Christian fiction doesn’t have to be simpy or saccharine. There are plenty of fantastic faith-based novels that don’t involve Amish people or unrealistic teenage love. Books like Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay and Deadline by Randy Alcorn have a subtle spirituality that is both thought provoking and challenging to one’s faith.

Biblical fiction is a genre all its own in the wide world of Christian literature. There are some good and some bad, but I think it’s a valuable category of books that shouldn’t be ignored. I’m over on Kindred Grace today sharing my favorite biblical fiction authors and novels. The best part? Moody and Tyndale have provided multiple sets of books for a few lucky KG readers. Be sure to comment (on the KG post) for a chance to win!

Do you read biblical fiction? I would love to hear your favorites!