On Suffering


There has been a lot on my facebook feed in the past few months about suffering, about death with dignity, about loss, about illness, about all sorts of things that are big and scary. This week in particular there have been stories about Kara Tippetts. Have you read anything by or about her? It’s incredible.  Her story touches me in an extra tender zone this week, as our dear friends are fighting a very similar battle with terminal cancer.

Ann Voskamp wrote a blog post in light of Kara’s passing that is profoundly good. Truly. It’s like God’s Spirit is speaking through every word.  She talks about suffering, about the art of dying well, and, ultimately — about how walking through suffering and death is our opportunity to live well.

I love this.

It challenges and encourages every part of my soul. That suffering is, at the core, good. That God graciously allows us to live and die well, should we so choose. That eternity will be here in the blink of an eye, though it will seem long and drawn out for those waiting on Earth. Powerful, painful, encouraging, tender.  Please read it.

May I willingly step into suffering deeper today, knowing God is there, and may He give me glimmers of what living well here on Earth looks like.

Much love,



Job 36:15 “But those who suffer He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction.”

*side note from me — notice it does not say He delivers FROM their suffering…  His goodness happens IN the suffering. so powerful and convicting!*

Lately :: March 2015


I spent the morning at Disneyland with my sister Kimberly a couple of  weeks ago, which was super fun. I don’t get too many Disneyland trips in anymore, now that I am working full time, but spending a Saturday morning there was a blast. We had corn dogs, ice cream, and rode a couple of rides. The ideal day at the park, if you ask me.


Glenn and I finalized and officially ordered Branch’s headstone. You may recall us working on his headstone and thinking we were in the final stages months ago. It is honestly surprising how difficult that entire process was. I never would have guessed it would have taken us over a year to order it, but it did.  I am glad to have the ordering finished, but am also grateful we took our time. I am sure it will be hard to see it in the ground once it is there, but I think it will also be nice in some ways — his name will be seen by all who walk by, and that is special in a way. I hope the gravestone will be a way that his legacy continues.


I feel like I do three things: work, walk, sleep. Maybe four things: I cook, too. My soul is in this strange spot, where grief is taking up less space, but is still taking up a good deal of my energy.  I imagine this is a frustrating place when you are a friend of mine, or an acquaintance even. I sense a desire from some for me to return to my former self:  the pre-grief Kristin they were used to.  Honestly, I get it.  I would probably feel the same way if I were them.


I try to show myself grace, to be gentle, to hold myself to no one’s expectations. It is hard, though. It is hard to disappoint friends. It is hard when relationships change. It is hard to be the only one in the room who has lost a child.


I went to a women’s event with some friends the other night. It was an enjoyable event and I was with safe people, and am so glad I was able to attend. As the evening began, we were all sitting in a circle, and the leader asked us to introduce ourselves by saying our name and how many children we have.  This was a first for me, but I think I handled it ok. It was a small enough group that I didn’t feel the need to hide, but my heart was palpitating as it got closer to my turn. I said my name, and said that I have no living children but my son Branch passed away a little over a year ago.  It was received well, as far as I could tell.


There is a new pair of jeans in my closet, and I am mildly obsessed with them.  My favorite jeans (before these ones) were the Madewell high-riser skinny. This latest pair are the AG legging jean. They might as well be sweatpants, they are so comfortable and awesome. And yet, somehow they are significantly more flattering than sweats. I love them!


That seems like enough of an update for today! Maybe I will write again in a few days, but I guess we’ll just have to see. 🙂

Much love,



Isaiah 66:12-13

For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”


Dreams for 2015

The first week of January, as we were still celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, I created a little space for myself to do something I hadn’t done in a year :: I gave myself space to dream.

At the beginning of last year, 2014,  I remember feeling like hope, and any chance of happiness, died when Branch died. I felt as if all life were lost, and not just for a season, but forever. It seemed the only form of mercy would be God returning and ending my pain. For a full twelve months, maybe more, dreaming became something sweet, innocent, well-meaning friends did, or suggested I do. Dreams, for me, were impossible. In my inmost being, sometimes they still are.

At the beginning of this year, 2015, I found myself ready, waiting, wanting to dream again, even if just a little.  And so, on January 4th, I sat on the leather chair in our living room, I used my colorful pens, I let the dreams flow — big and small. Here is what I came up with.


Have a healthy baby. Write on my blog every week. Re-design my blog. Run 3 miles in 30 minutes. Travel to Europe. Eat at The French Laundry.

Dreams are different than goals. Dreams don’t need check-lists or priorities. Dreams don’t even need to happen. They are simply dreams. A picture of what the future could be, without any hidden agenda or judgement.  Dreams.

May God’s grace be sufficient for you today, whether you are able to dream or if the dreaming will just have to wait. You and I are so very loved.


Romans 8:32  “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

December 14th, 2014

I wrote this last week, on December 14th (hence the title), and read it at an annual event The Elizabeth Hospice puts together called Light Up A Life. We were so honored to have been asked to speak at Light Up A Life, and to share a little bit more about Branch. I could sing The Elizabeth Hospice’s praises for hours on end … truly. I can not imagine better people exist in the world than the people who work with The Elizabeth Hospice. 

I decided to post this piece today, Christmas Eve, because it sums up how we feel this week, too. Christmas is a tender time. All holidays are, really, but Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, which makes it particularly bittersweet now. I have had to work hard at reminding myself of God’s love for me, of how He sees me, that He knows me, and how He welcomes my sorrow with open arms.  

I hope you enjoy this little writing. Merry Christmas, friends. xoxo


I feel sad.

I have felt sad every day in 2014.

Every night — every single night — as the lights turn out, I turn to Glenn and tell him how much I miss our baby. Every night — every single night — he squeezes me tight and tells me that he knows.  Because he misses our boy every day, too.

As many of you know, Branch died on December 10th, 2013. Just over a year ago.  Now that his first birthday and the first anniversary of his death are over, part of me feels victorious. We did it.  We are alive. We got out of bed, at least for a few moments, every day for the past 365 days. We still laugh a lot. Even now.

Today, though, most of me feels sad.

2014 has been really hard.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could tell you that now, a year later, things are just hunky-dory and we are totally fine, we don’t have a care in the world, and we never have trouble relating to anyone and yes, even though I buried my son, I am definitely making every meal at home and working out constantly.

The truth is that, a year after death, I find comfort in the Jack in the Box drive-through.  I go on walks, and sometimes I run. I feel lonely all the time. I am just barely beginning to breathe again.

And I guess, in some ways, that is comforting.  Because we ARE doing it. We ARE breathing again. We are taking it slow. We are welcoming the pain, the loneliness, the sorrow, and the joy.

We grieve because we love. And my love for Branch, which is the one thing that is so sacred it is impossible to describe, will never die.

May you feel that kind of love today.


One Year

Today would have been Branch’s first birthday.

It IS his first birthday still, but we don’t get to celebrate with him in the flesh. Obviously.


I have watched a few one year olds grow over this past year. They are all so funny, so spunky, so silly, so full of life. I think a one year old would be pretty fun.

If Branch were still here, I probably would have spent less money on myself, but a lot more money on him. I would be up to my elbows in diapers and drool. I would be thinking it was a real tragedy how little sleep I was getting. I would be wondering if we were out-growing our little home. I would be frustrated that the baby weight hadn’t just “fallen off”. I would watch him grow every day and be fascinated by his little face discovering things for the first time.

When I think about this past year, it is almost a blur. Some of it went by quickly, especially the last few months. Some of it went by painfully slow. It was so painful, actually, that it is almost hard to remember just how bad it was. As we enter into this season and are now only 7 days away from the anniversary of Branch’s death, some of the fog is lifting and we are starting to remember a few details from the early weeks. Many of the details are happy, others are just really sad.

Life and death, so close together.

December 3rd, 2013, the day Branch Lionheart Murdock was born, is the day that made me a Mom. What a wonderful joy it was to meet him face to face. His cheeks were soft, his legs were long, and he snuggled like nobody’s business. I am so grateful for him. Even in the pain. What a treasured life he is.

Happy Birthday, baby Branch. I can’t wait to see you again. I hope me and your Daddy do a good job celebrating and remembering you today. We love you to the moon and back.

My prayer for today is that Branch is honored, that his life is validated, and that Glenn and I can show ourselves kindness and grace as we step out into the world in all of our woundedness. May God’s face shine on us, and on you, this December 3rd.

Revelation 21:3-5

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

All my love, and a special dose of love to those of you who have buried your babies, too. We see you.


Running Again

I have decided to start running again.

I was a runner for many years. And now I am one again.

I am not a fast runner, though my speed did increase over the years.

I am not a skinny runner, though my body has seen various shapes and weights in my running tenure.

I am not someone who was “born to run” and just loves every second of being out there.

Running is hard work. It’s hard for my mind, for my lungs, for my heart, for my legs.  Sometimes running feels like soul work more than anything else. It’s all on the table when my feet hit the ground, you know what I mean? I am reminded of my reality, of God’s goodness, of all I am carrying in my inmost being, every time I lace up my sneakers.

I wonder if that’s why I took a break for a little while. It was too much to face. Too much to carry. Too much to run with.


On Saturday morning I went for a run.

I had new shoes, an awesome pair of running tights, and an ocean view.

I ran half a mile, stopped for a minute to catch my breath, and then ran another half mile.

One mile.

During the 2nd half mile my mind was flooded with thoughts of how different running feels. In some ways it is harder to run, but mostly, I was reminded of all my body, my legs, my lungs, and my heart have walked through in recent months.

These are the legs that take me to work, to Whole Foods, to Croutons for soup and salad, every week.  These are the thighs that held extra weight, weight that is still there, to support a growing baby boy. This is the body that is physically holding my grief, my joy, my fear. These are the lungs that laugh and cry, often in the same breath, as I did at church this morning. This is the heart that lays my sorrows and my dreams at God’s feet.

This body has done a lot for me. And now, it is helping me run.

One mile down.




Five Things : October 28th, 2014

1. We are finalizing Branch’s gravestone this week. It has taken much longer than anticipated. Not in the sense that it’s the end of October and Branch was born almost eleven months ago, but in the sense that we started the process over a month ago now, and the stone still isn’t ordered. We waited to start working on it until around his ten month birthday, and I am really glad we did. Did you know that in Jewish tradition headstones aren’t selected until eleven months after the death? Enough time has passed, but not too much time. I like that.

It is hard to design a headstone for your firstborn son. I would imagine it is hard to design a headstone for anyone. I never really imagined myself having the opportunity. I guess nobody does.

I think Branch’s headstone will be cool. We have put a lot of thought into it — what to say, what not to say, how to place things, etc. And honestly :: who knew there were so many options for granite??!!?


2. We spent this past Sunday at Disneyland.


By now you know that I LOVE Disneyland. I love Walt Disney and all he created — the joy his vision brought and continues to bring to so many. I love the history Disneyland holds — a personal, familial, and fun history. I love how Anaheim is home to the original Disney theme park, and that Anaheim is so close to us here in San Diego. I love the way Disneyland decorates and celebrates so many seasons — Halloweentime being one of them.

Really, truly, Disneyland is my favorite place on earth, and I just loved spending the day there with Glenn on Sunday! Can you imagine?! Glenn AND Disneyland together?!?! My soul bursts with delight!


3. Glenn and I are lifting weights. We call it Murdock Pump Club. It’s pretty awesome.


4. I am really liking my job. I keep thinking of all the other jobs I interviewed for, or places I thought about working, and I am so grateful that God had the perfect position in mind — all I had to do was wait.  My job is not glamorous or high profile or even in line with what someone would think I should do if they looked at my resume :: but it really is a great fit for me! Here’s hoping my boss feels the same!


5. October is National Infant Loss Awareness Month. On the 15ht of October every year, there is an event called “Wave of Light” where candles are lit in honor of babies who have died. Many of you know this. Many of you lit candles for Branch or other sweet babies. Thank you.



I don’t know how Heaven works, but I like to picture God pulling back the veil, just for a moment, and showing all of Heaven the beautiful wave of candles that burned in honor of our little loves. What a sight.


My prayer for this week is that my palms stay cupped in surrender :: offering all I have, and willingly accepting what He places in them.

Happy Tuesday, friends.




The word “tender” has been circling my thoughts, heart, inner spaces.

Tender like meat after it has been beaten. Tender like a soft touch. Tender like wounded skin that is healing.


This week we celebrated, and mourned, nine months since our little love was born and died. I do not think I am more tender, actually I know for certain I am not, but I am aware of the little spaces that are so fresh — just beginning to heal.

I am aware of the pang of loss that accompanies joy when I see brand new baby boys.

I am aware of the loneliness of grief.

I am aware of other’s uncomfortableness with my sorrow, my loss, my son and his story. This one is very tender.



“Tender” has three definitions.

1. very loving and gentle, showing affection and love

2. easy to chew or bite, not tough

3. painful when touched


In my tenderness, may God guide my broken heart, as I surrender to Him.

Psalm 9:10
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”







September Twenty-Fourteen

Hello, September.

I have seen you lurking in the distance for a while, and yet you still managed to sneak up on me.

It is hard to not remember your sister, September Twenty-Thirteen, when I see your name. A lot has changed in a year, hasn’t it?

You probably already know this, but tomorrow I start my new job. I have a little bit of nervousness, but mostly excitement, when I think about joining the workforce again. In the past I would become quite nervous, anxious, eager, and afraid when starting a new job. I hated the change, the uncertainty, the not knowing if people liked me or not. Now, I don’t really have any of those feelings. I am going back to a company I know, but more than that, I think job stress is somehow less significant to me now. As a dear friend put it “You have literally lived through hell. Nothing could be worse than what you have already gone through. With that perspective, a new job just isn’t a big deal anymore.”  It was validating, and in a strange way, comforting to hear her say that.

And so, I am looking forward to my job. I am welcoming the change. I am welcoming anxiety and sadness and fear and joy and anything else that comes my way, knowing it is a-ok, even at work. There is nothing wrong with excusing yourself for five minutes to sob hysterically in the bushes. I’m just hoping there are some bushes nearby…

September, you know you symbolize change in many ways. Summer is over, autumn is just around the corner. I remember fall in a different way this year. My therapist friend Laura says our bodies hold on to memories in unique ways — sometimes remembering particularly difficult seasons even when we are not consciously thinking of them. I wonder how my body will respond to fall this year.

Tonight I am going to make Chinese chicken salad and ice cream cookie sandwiches.  It’s a holiday, it’s the day before I go back to work, and more importantly, it’s still Glenn’s birthday weekend. Ice cream cookie sandwiches are always a great way to celebrate, wouldn’t you agree?

I hope you are good to us, September Twenty-Fourteen.  We are a fragile bunch.  Resilient, but still fragile.

Psalm 23:6 NKJV
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”


Testing Recipes :: The Chocolate Chip Cookie

Glenn and I are on a little getaway in Santa Barbara this week! A dear friend of mine offered up her home while they are out of town! We couldn’t say no, and are already having a blast exploring town and chillaxin. Despite my vay-cay, I HAD to take a minute to post and tell you all about the chocolate chip cookies I made a few days ago.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you already know I was testing out a couple of chocolate chip cookie recipes. I kept seeing this recipe for The NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies come up on fellow food lover’s sites and photo streams, so I wanted to test it out and compare it to my favorite Thomas Keller Chocolate Chip Cookies. Really, I just wanted an excuse to make a ton of cookie dough, so this worked out perfectly.

The ingredients vary slightly.  We’ll start with the Times recipe, which makes a monstrous amount of dough for a monstrous amount of cookies, so I froze about 3/4 of it and will bake them when you come over for dinner. I weighed the ingredients out for this recipe, and I am glad I did. If you have a food scale, I would highly recommend weighing your ingredients so you know your measurements are accurate!

photo 2-2

This recipe has cake flour, bread flour, baking powder, baking soda, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, dark chocolate (I used 72%), eggs, vanilla, and sea salt. Don’t mind the tomatoes. Those are from my garden (GLORY! THEY GREW!!) but they don’t taste very good (HEARTBREAK!) so I canned them when I was done with the cookies. Hoping they make a good marinara sauce.  Back to the cookies: the dough came together nicely, and looked very similar to your classic Toll House dough – light and fluffy.

The Thomas Keller recipe makes what I would consider a decent amount of dough for a decent amount of cookies. I learned a few years back that, for a household of two, I could easily freeze half the dough after shaping it into balls, and have cookies at the ready for months! I love this trick.

photo 1-2

This recipe has all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, dark muscovado brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter that has been cut into little pieces, two types of chocolate (72% and 55%), and eggs. The thing that makes these cookies unique is the dark brown sugar. If you haven’t tried dark muscovado brown sugar, I would highly recommend making these cookies at least once. It is a special ingredient, that is for sure.  It can be found at specialty stores like Whole Foods, or online. Pricy, but oh so worth it for the complexity of flavor and depth it adds to a basic chocolate chip cookie. Because of the dark muscovado sugar, the dough is very dark compared to the traditional Toll House dough. Do not be alarmed.

I tasted each dough side-by-side and both were delicious. I liked the blend of chocolate and depth of flavor in the TK recipe, but I loved the creaminess of the Times recipe dough. I think if you were a real cookie-dough fanatic, you would probably lean toward the Times dough over the TK dough…. but you will have to tell me once you try them both.

After a cool 24-hour chill in the refrigerator, it’s on to the baking! Both cookies are baked at 350. The Times cookies require a bit of a longer baking time than the TK ones, so I made sure to bake them separately. Also, as soon as the Times cookies come out of the oven, you sprinkle them with sea salt. I used Fleur de Sel because that’s all I had.

photo 1

I mean….these NY Times Cookies look incredible. I’m trying to decide if they would look as good without the salt, and I really don’t think they would. Just imagining the hint of salty aftertaste is making my mouth water.

Here are the Thomas Keller Cookies.

photo 2

Wow. Again. Based on the look of these, I feel as though they would be chewy and have that “fresh out of the oven” melty chocolate taste even a few hours later.

Here are both cookies cooling side-by-side so you can compare.

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AND NOW, the most important part : tasting and opinions.

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New York Times Recipe: This cookie is fluffy, buttery, and tastes like an incredible version of a traditional chocolate chip cookie. My favorite part is the salty bite on top and how that blends in with the buttery sweetness. I don’t love the dark chocolate, and would want to try this with a more traditional semi-sweet as opposed to the dark I used.  I also want to try it with walnuts, as I am a walnut-in-my-cookie kind of gal.

photo 4

Thomas Keller Recipe: This cookie is soft, chewy, and full of depth. It has similarities to a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but not many. The molasses from that dark sugar, as well as the blend of chocolates, give it something unique that keeps me coming back for more. This cookie does not taste good with walnuts (I have tried), but could use a little added salt – maybe I will double the salt in the recipe next time I make these and see how that goes.

Overall, these are both awesome and delicious versions of the chocolate chip cookie, and I would highly recommend them both! I think my heart is still won by Thomas Keller’s version, HOWEVER, I am going to make a few quick tweaks (mainly lowering the intensity of the chocolate I use and adding walnuts) of the NY Times recipe and could easily see that becoming my new favorite.  For those interested, here are the recipe links:

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie

Thomas Keller Chocolate Chip Cookie

Hope this was a fun end-of-summer post for you. Let me know if you make either recipe, and what your thoughts are along the way!