About the Author

Kristen Strong, author of Back Roads to Belonging and Girl Meets Change, writes as a friend offering meaningful encouragement for each season of life so you can see it with hope instead of worry. She and her US Air Force veteran husband, David, have three children and live in Colorado...

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  1. Kristen,
    First, my opinion of you skyrocketed! This southern girl loves country music! Most of all I love your message of create what you know. I often think, wow, my writing style doesn’t match that of so and so, but it doesn’t need to. It just needs to be an outpouring of what God has uniquely poured into me. So, I’ll keep writing what I know…52 years of living and loving God! So glad to read you on (in)courage!!
    Love and blessings,
    Bev

  2. Thank you for the jolt! I needed to read this. I have been saying I am waiting for this and I am waiting for that but now I am where I said I would start from once I get here. And I need to get started. Ooooo that was a doozy of a sentence huh? Thanks!!!

    And classically trained or not…. Barbara Mandrell would be proud! And this chick (gone from GA to AZ to GA) is proud southern country girl!

  3. It is pure joy to ride with the Holy Spirit when He stirs up fresh creativity! Love your encouragement to create what we know and relish the gifts God has given.

  4. what a lovely reminder to not put “should look like” limits and expectations on what god is birthing in us. these truths are hydrating me this morning. thank you. xo

  5. Amen to that:)! Ephesians 4:7 is one of my favorite scriptures:) Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the reminder that each one of us is created uniquely… May we never be afraid to shine, to the glory of God, amen:)!

  6. Kristen, I love you even more! 🙂 I grew up listening to country while riding in my Daddy’s pickup truck. To this day I have a soft spot in my heart for it right alongside the classical music I learned to love from my mom. The harmonies of Little Big Town give me the same chills as the soaring voice of Josh Groban.

    I’m not sure what I know yet. I think I’m still young and still learning and still experiencing life. So right now I’m just trying to remain open to what God has for me and be present in the moment. Heck, I’ve got two little kids, some days it’s literally moment to moment! LOL

    • Melissa darling, you’re doing marvelously. Mothering your own sweet little ones requires an infinite number of creative combinations! Keep on keepin’ on sister ~ we’re cheering you on!

    • I have a 15yr old and a 18yr old, sometimes it’s still moment to moment. Taking care of your kids is one of the best talents. As a mom you have to be careful not to compare yourself to other moms, to find what works for you. Know this God loves you right where you are right in this moment. even when your washing the dishes. Your right it’s hard to be present in the moment when we feel like pooling our hair out sometimes and that’s OK because that’s how we learn about grace. Keep at it Melissa 🙂

  7. Love this line – “let your gift dance with what you know”! Wake up call – it won’t be for everyone, but it will be for some. The “some” are the ones God picks – it’s up to me to use the gift (still searching for it) and HE will do the rest!

  8. “Listen sister, you have been hand-picked to receive a gift, something you can do in a way unlike any other man or woman on this planet. Whatever it is, dip your toe into it or dive right in. Either way, move in a direction that encourages you to see what God has in mind for you.” – words I always have a hard time with – my head knows it is true, but my heart seems to think differently. Thanks for the encouraging words!!

    I grew up listening to country music too! Though I don’t listen to it much now, when I first moved out to the East Coast, I got my (future) husband hooked…he still listens to it! (I started singing the chorus to that song, and could hear the voice, but couldn’t come up with Barbara Mandrell…) 🙂

  9. I needed this. I may not be an expert but I am gifted by God with the territory of the life I have lived and His presence is in. Therfore if I have lived it nothing is wasted. Not the good or bad or ugly of it all. This is our uniqueness. Authenticity about where we have been and that God has been with us on the journey even when we didn’t know it is our qualification to create from what we know. Country has always been cool to me!

  10. I grew up in the hood. Yes yes i did. Im sure judge me bc technically im from the wrong side of the tracks. It wasnt all bad however and ppl have a tendency to judge but Jesus was born in a stable so id say im in good company i knew urban decay am i crazy about it not particularly but i also know community and life and chinese jumprope and now or laters and the community pool. I know double dutch even tho im bad at it. So when i see work humanitarian photos aiding children in africa or urban ghettos and think wow but i also think these could b my family. Sometimes it angers me to only see starving children when i seen africa to b so much more than this. Of course there are issues but this is what i know. The suburbs needs God in a big way just as much in my neighbor-hood

    • Oh yes, we *all* need Jesus, the One who sees no “wrong side of the tracks” but only a desire to make all wrongs right through His all-encompassing love. I desperately need Him and am thankful He came to save me, too.

      I’m thankful for you, Alli, and for your presence in this community! Much love to you, sister.

  11. Kristen, I love this so much. Okay, maybe not the country music part, but the heart of what you’re saying. 😉 I’m learning this slowly, and embracing who I am and who I’m not, letting that be enough.

    • Yes, embracing who I’m not as well as who I am. Feels brave and freeing all at once.

      *Adore* you, Annie. Just love you and your amazing talent to pieces.

  12. I can no longer listen to country music. All of the heart-break songs… break me. The songs about drinking, remind of a past that I am trying to overcome with the help of my Saviour. I have to listen to Christian music, to turn my mind to thinking on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.” I need to hear songs that praise my Lord.

    • I need to hear praise songs too, Leah. Just love them! And just. love. YOU, sister. Thank you for your words here today. Much love to you and gratitude for you.

  13. Great post! I KNOW that God gave me the volunteer job that I have with hospice! I KNOW God KNEW where I would be at the exct time in my life. Four years ago this month my husband of 30 years died. We were so blessed to be with hospice. At that time they did everything for me when I was too grieved and tinned to hardly breath. I now call between 35-55 of our hospice families every Saturday ,just to see how things are going with them. I am so blessed to be invited into their homes and families. I want them to have the same peace and support that my husband and I had. Anyway, I KNOW that God is so good to give this to me.

  14. I needed this so much today. I was literally telling a friend last night that I was the least talented person alive. Thank you for this.

  15. These are such great and encouraging words and can be applied to all kinds of different aspects of our lives. Creating from what we know give us validity, too. Thanks for your words.

  16. I love, love, love this! I so often fret over what I should write on my blog, fearful I’ll lose potential readers, but you are absolutely right: in the end it comes down to writing about what you know. I know about infertility. I know about faith and loss and struggles. And if a reader turns away from my blog or my book because it says something they are uncomfortable with-that’s ok. Because maybe those words weren’t meant for them, but they are meant for some one else. See-you just gave me a revelation! 🙂 Thank you for that!!
    p.s. I love country music too, and I was also country before country was cool! This MT girl loves me some gravel roads and chillin’ on the tailgate. 😉

  17. ROCK ON COUNTRY GIRL.. I love reading your pages.. you are such an inspiration !

  18. I have recently moved to the city for the first time after losing my husband and living in the country for 61 yrs. I love it but I love my country background (finally, instead of embarassment & shame) and that definitely includes the music. Rascal Flatts ‘I Won’t Let Go’ was a gift from the Lord personally the year following the loss of my husband!

  19. Love this. Especially because I love.love.love Country music. 🙂 I wasn’t a Country fan until the late 90’s, but already, the songs my husband and I fell in love to are being played on the “20 years of hits” countdowns. 🙂

  20. A thousand Thank you’s. Today is my last day of school, its been a difficult year, I really feel it came on the tail of some scripture verses I was reading today.
    Blessings to u

  21. I know God gave me a gift for comedy and laughter. I have that creative bent that makes me love a “red solo cup” (I’m sure you know that song) and “that when God’s involved something good is bound to happen” (a song that I know but you may not). 🙂 I know that God is a creative God. And I’m sure he would said to each of us “write what you know”. I’m glad I know Him, but more importantly that He knows me and calls me by name.

  22. I can relate – I was a 12-year-old filling journals with smiley-face covers full of stories about kids who solved mysteries! It’s so true that the things you love from the time you’re young stick with you. Finding the gifts God’s given you isn’t as hard as we make it sometimes. It’s mostly about being honest about what you love and what you’re good at, not just what seems like it would be fun or easy.

  23. Oh WOW! Just WOW! Not only do I love this post, but I love you too, Kristen! Totally cool…I like many genres of music but country is right up there. I couldn’t come up with Barbara Mandrell either…shame on me.

    Our gifts are given to us for a reason and a purpose…and we should use them for his honor and glory because it IS what we know. thank you for this lovely reminder!

  24. I know that I can’t wait to arrive in OK. Cowboy boots are at the top of my must-have list. I am excited about exploring and observing another culture of our great USofA. I love country music and country line dancing. Looking forward to kicking up my heels. Jana

  25. Thank you, Kristen, for your wise words that proclaim: “Creating what we know” doesn’t have to please everyone. Good medicine for the people-pleasing disease that plagues a lot of us. I love the image of dancing with what I know, and delighting the Creator! Others have the option of joining in–or not. And that’s OK.

  26. Wow, I love this post! What an important concept to keep in mind, that we all have our own gifts to offer! Beautiful! Thank you for such lovely inspiration!

    I have to publish this prayer and thought an online community would be a great place for it.
    Prayer To The Blessed Virgin
    This is a novena to the Blessed Virgin.

    Say this prayer 3 times a day for 3 consecutive days and your prayers will be answered. You must promise to publish it.
    Say this 3 times during each prayer:

    O Most Beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me here you are my mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to secure me in my necessity, (YOUR REQUEST). There are none that can withstand your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Holy Mary, I place this cause in your hands.
    After each prayer say 9 Hail Mary’s: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. (say that 9 times).

  27. I don’t know what else I can add to this discussion that hasn’t already been beautifully expressed by all of these comments, or by you yourself, already, Kristen. But I do know that this line right here is now permanently on an index card above my desk – I must remember: “What you create won’t be for everyone, but it will be for some. It will be for those who identify with who you are and what you know.” Yes to that! I loved this LOADS!

  28. Kristen,

    You are a woman after my own heart. I, too, was country when country wasn’t cool. In high school, back in 80s, I loved country– the Judds, Statler Brothers, Alan Jackson, etc. I also love the country life–blue jeans cowboy shirt, etc.

    Thank you for the reminder that we all have special gifts to offer this world. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like people want or need my gift. I may not have found the right place to show it off yet. Love all the reminders that when we let our gifts dance with what we know, we will create something that delights the Creator and amazes us. Thanks a million for the delightfully written post!

    God bless! 🙂

  29. Kristen, I’m a southern belle and adore/obsess/swoon over country music! That’s exactly why I love it…they write what they know. And I needed this today. To remind myself I don’t have to fit into a round hole if I’m a square peg. I can celebrate and create what I know based on my experiences. I don’t have to have everyone like it…so why do I do that…try to please everyone around me?? Thank you for celebrating who you are…and inviting us to connect with you. Enjoy the old school King George, Crystal Gayle, Randy Travis, and George Jones. 🙂 I’m right there with ya!!

  30. Thank you for this. Having just started a new creative adventure (scary, too), this has real significance.

  31. Simply to say…a girl after my own heart!
    I don’t mind a bit of country music either, but what really speaks to me in what you have said Kristen is that amazing truth that God has gifted each of us in a unique way.
    I’ve been doin’ my thing for 43 years but only just worked that truth out about a year ago.
    Thank you for the reminder today as I smile in unity with you across the other side of the globe in Australia, celebrating how different and amazing the world really is.
    God bless.

  32. Thank you for this timely message, one that speaks to ALL hearts and reminds us how vast and creative our God is to make us all as individual as each snowflake (and if you live in the South you especially love the snow because you never see it!) I personally did not grow up loving country music (I’m more of a rock n roll fan) but over the last several years I’ve “hand-picked” a few country artists….one being Faith Hill. She has a song called FREE and every time I hear it I can’t help but sing it out to God with praise and thanksgiving. (never thought I’d be inspired to worship God through a country artist!) In that respect, I’m thankful she sings/writes what she knows! So on a certain level I guess you could say that this rock n roll girl is grateful for some country music! God bless you all.

  33. I”m not huge on Country, but I crazy about you. So sometimes you just have to let it go. If we traveled together, I have no doubt that we could share the Ipod! Love ya, Girl! I hope you are having a blast in OK with the fam!

  34. I don’t know why but it did… Did what ? Bring tears to my eyes. It somehow tug my heart to being original being real and to discovering who God wants me to be. Something God has been talking to me lately about.
    Thank you for sharing….

  35. So many reasons to love you and want to be neighbors – we’ll just keep the radio off most of the time. 😉 You are so right about writing or doing what you know. Like when you eat a biscuit that isn’t really a biscuit when you KNOW a biscuit – you can spot when someone is faking it and just trying too hard. Thank you for this awesome encouragement to just be me and let those gifts work out the way they were designed to only through me. Dang, girl, this is some good stuff!! Now all I need to do is figure out my version of the Beverly Hillbillies/ Green Acres girl that I was made to be (except that I make it work!).

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