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. A timely post as my husband and I prepare for our first Christmas Day (in 36 years of marriage) with “just us”. The first nine Christmas Days in our marriage were spent with my parents, siblings and maternal grandparents (we had Christmas with his parents and siblings on the Sunday before Christmas, and still do — except his dad has passed away and there are more family members in the form of spouses/partners, grandchildren and great grandchildren to my in-laws).
    For the next 23 years there were always at least three of us, because DD was added to our little family. Sometimes my parents were here too, sometimes one or both of my siblings even made it.
    In 2009, DD spent her first Christmas as married woman, seven months pregnant, with her husband and her parents. The following year we had SIL’s parents and one of his sisters here to celebrate our grandson’s first Christmas. By the next Christmas there was another grandson. Last year SIL had to work, starting at noon, so we organised a special Christmas brunch which I had thought might become a new tradition. But it was not to be … in February SIL announced that they were moving several hours away, back to his home town. My husband and I were heart-broken at “losing” our only child and our two grandsons but we are learning to live with the new lifestyle not seeing them weekly has brought.
    So, as I said before, this year it will be just my husband and I because he has to work on December 24 and needs to be back at work again on December 27 — not enough time to travel and enjoy time with family. But all is not lost — DD, SIL and the Grandsons will be here for eight days next week so we’ll be celebrating Christmas early.
    My husband and I are thinking of starting a new tradition – volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen on Christmas morning since we have our Christmas service the evening before.
    Life doesn’t always go the way we plan or the way we’d like but it’s good to remember that God knows the plans he has for us, plans for our good, plans to give us hope and a future.

    • Lynne, I love the way you acknowledge the hard change as well as God’s goodness throughout. And I adore your plan to volunteer on Christmas morning! What a grace that would be to those you serve. Thank *you* for showing us how to turn change that grieves into a change that graces. Really beautiful.

  2. Kristen,
    Thinking of change as a “grace” and not a “grievance”…I love this. I agree, that I have felt God closest to me during and after change. Going through years of infidelity and then going through the divorce, was NOT my idea of change. But, God, as He has always been, was faithful to draw near to me and wrap His arms of comfort around me. Now I stand on the doorstep of another big change…I will get married to a wonderful Godly man in January. It will still be change, albeit good change. Because of God’s faithfulness in the past, I can walk with assurance into the future knowing He will be there right in the middle of the change.

    So glad to read you here at (in)courage this morning Kristen! Also, thank you to Amy and your nice comments from yesterday…you are in my prayers!! Love this place 🙂
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Bev, I’m so excited about your upcoming nuptials. After all you’ve been through, this is beautiful change indeed.

      And thank you for *always* being a bright light, Bev ~ to the (in)courage community as well as at my own place. You are a dear friend to all who are blessed to know you. xoxo

  3. Kristen, thank you so much!
    I really have to say that change was more an enemy than a friend to me. It’s hard to except that life takes a turn while God is giving us a heavenly chance.
    At this moment I’m waiting on the conclusion of a meeting if I can stay at my working place. And if not? I always say to myself that however it will come God has a greater plan for me than my wishes and expectations.
    Be blessed!
    Rosie

  4. Agreed…there are a lot of changes taking place during the holidays which adds to a little more stress and Grinch-like attitudes. (speaking from experience maybe?) But, right now mine is more personal….with inner issues, dealing with weight, and trying to figure out what is causing all this emotional eating???

    Good thing with negative change comes a positive. 😉 …..eventually…..

    • Kathy, you have my heartfelt prayers as you work through this, a battle that is doubly difficult this time of year. Have you heard of Lysa Terkeurst’s book Made to Crave? It has helped so many with the same struggle.

      Holding your hand, sister, and much love to you.

  5. This is a timely post for me. My family is going through some very big changes that are rocking our world. God is asking me to release and trust Him in a very big way, and it is scary. When the change seems impossible or difficult remember where our help comes from. I know God will bring good from this situation.

  6. Hi Kristen,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. Sometimes we fear changes, because we are scared of the unknown. But we should consider the option that changes are sometimes for better. For this Christmas I would wish for more positive changes for me and my family. They say the real happiness comes when you leave the comfort zone. I would add, that real happyness come to those, who are not afraid of taking risks and facing changes.
    Happy Holidays!

  7. Because of my infidelity, my marriage is ending. My children are struggling with this and how to talk to their children about the changes that are forthcoming. Christmas will be full of change for all of us, it’s hard right now to think if this change as grace. Accepting grace, even though I know it’s been given by My Lord, is not easy.
    Thank you for these words today.

  8. Thank you for sharing this….it came at the right time for me. Lots of change going on in my little family’s life…all of it exciting nevertheless it is still so very difficult to handle. Feeling God’s grace through it all and know that even in the craziness he is drawing me closer.

  9. It has been a year of changes for our household mostly good with our daughter graduating college and beginning her career in the U.S. Army as a 2nd LT and our son graduating high school. Our daughter received her first duty station only 2 hours from home after being so far away for college the past 2 years. Not long after my husband, also serving in the Army found out he would getting promoted to his last rank so he read the oath of office for our daughters first rank and she just recently did the same for her dad’s last rank. A joyous celebration with family and friends from all over…this week we found out our daughter will be leaving us once again. She is being deployed to Korea for 9 months come the end of January. Not exactly the Christmas news I had expected:( I’ve been riding a season of changes this year, but know God is by my side to comfort me in all seasons never forsaking me. I know his plan is bigger than mine drawing me closer. Thank you for sharing Merry Christmas!

    • Kendra, the details of those ceremonies bring tears to this Air Force wife. How beautiful!

      Treasuring your words on change, sister. Thank you for using your life as a light for this community.

  10. Big blessings and big changes for us as we settle into a one bedroom cottage as empty nesters, on a 40 acre farm. So peaceful and quiet compared to the always town dwellers. We sold everything this year, to simplify and just live, and be able to give more. So the house was sold, then my husbands business and property. It was our livelihood for more than 20 years. He has begun a new venture, working for someone else at almost 50 (!) and things are weird and a bit stressful, but God has been so good to us this year. We asked, we waited, we prayed, we waited some more, we doubted, we laughed and cried, we were scared, we were held and protected, and our prayers were answered, in His great timing and in His great way. Now the adjustment phase is kicking in, but it’s all good. Everyday, no matter how much this season wrecks me, I will thank Him and be grateful.

  11. Between my dad passing away suddenly and my two oldest daughters serving in the Army and Navy and not being home, this Christmas will be one with many changes. I’m honestly not handling it well at all…I don’t like change. However, I am going to keep this devotion and re-read often so hopefully I can start to accept and see the good. Thank you for writing this.

  12. We are away from most of our family but God has given us so much that we can’t complain.
    He gave His only son to come at Christmas and to die for us. So we should be happy with what the Lord has given us. We have one son and his wife. And a welcome from the community were we live. So we don’t have a lot to be unthankful for.
    Love,
    Becky

  13. Dear Kristen,
    Talk about change. We are moving the Melbourne Australia from London on the 23rd of January. Our Christmas is full of major decisions regarding what to take with us, how to get rid of those thins we can’t take and trying to find a house over there on the internet! Change is not my friend but God has blessed me with an unbelievable awareness of his presence and his small still voice in the back of my head saying, “this is the way, walk in it.” Change is a chance to experience more of him and it is also a chance to grow our belief muscle. To believe is a verb and I pray daily that God will help me to believe that he has a house for us. Perhaps it will be a “it just so happens. . .” moment. God comes and all is okay!

    Blessings for Christmas
    Lisa (London)

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  15. An upcoming decision whether or not to move away from my family to IN for an opportunity looms. Husband and I would be among some family and friends, but not parents we’ve grown close to. Struggling much with whether or not to make this change and how to know what God is calling us to do…

    • A friendly wave to you, sweet Lauren.

      Oh, these “gray” decisions are hard, aren’t they? I’m praying that the Holy Spirit gives you fresh, unmistakable direction toward the better choice. May clarity and peace be yours right now. Much love.

  16. We found ourselves admits change 8 months ago when my husbands job moved across the country. When we got here something didn’t feel right. But then my husband was courted by another company and now we are in the middle of another move. Less far away from here…..aka not across the country. But selling a house we just bought 6 months ago, alone with the kids, and missing my husband again as he started his new job this week. I pray that we find “home” at our new place and we can love it and it love us. And I pray for it to happen quickly!

  17. Thank you for sharing this…the past 18months have been a roller coaster of changes for my family…..I don’t want to go into detail, but I admit that I am truly struggling and having a very difficult time of “seeing God” in our situation….my faith is weak and my heart is broken, BUT, I often cry out, I believe,help me in my unbelief…so thank you for sharing this…it’s a timely encouragement.

    • Tina, that’s often what I cry out loud, too. I think, too, He treasures a heart willing to believe.

      So thankful for your words here, Tina. And for you! Much love.

  18. Let’s see…
    Followed God “out into the wilderness” away from my family and friends.
    First year I haven’t taught elementary school in 17 years.
    Stepmama for the first time.
    Starting a new blog and attempting to publish my children’s books.
    So many blessings I can’t even count them… but the change has provided plenty of growing pains and moments of crisis.
    All glory to God! He has stood faithfully close through it all.

  19. Oh that ugly thing called change. No one likes it, but God does allow it to strengthen us and bring us closer to Him.

    Change for me is never ever good. I’ve had a few seasons of change and they were hard to swallow. Years ago after a long hospitalization and rehab mom’s dementia turned into sundowner’s. It was 2 long years of watching her diminish from the once vibrant card playing woman she was. Not an easy road to hoe. She died peacefully in her bed 4 years ago.

    Now I find myself in that boat again. My dad has been diagnosed with onset dementia. So far he’s only been a little forgetful–nothing serious. My sisters and I are working on paperwork to move him into an assisted living facility.

    It is hard to sit back and watch as your parents age and suddenly you find yourself being the parent/caretaker of the one who took care of you. I miss them so much, but am thankful for the time I had with them and that I could be there always for them.

    God bless! 🙂 🙂

  20. Change is good they say but oh so scary! In 2010 4 big changes happened in our family. My dad went home to heaven. I won’t wish him back even though I miss him. He was so lonely without my mom and they are enjoying heaven together now. From June til November, 3 of our children were married to wonderful partners. When my hubby asked me if I thought we should move I informed him I had enough major changes for one year. God has blessed us with a wonderful family just not looking forward to 2014. We are planning an awesome Celebration this Christmas as 2014 is going to bring more major changes. The Lord has led one of our sons and his small family to go out into missionary work in Mexico. That means our little grandaughter is leaving too Our 2 daughters with their husbands are planning on moving far away early next year to new jobs. Clinging to the verse….I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. …or the translation I enjoy ..through Christ who infuses me ( like a tea bag infuses into the cup of hot water) with strength.

  21. Kristen,

    I’m so glad I clicked over from inCourage. I think this is some of your BESTEST writing based on BESTEST wisdom.

    So much in my heart to share, but think I’ll ponder for a bit.

    love, sue

  22. Divine appointment tonite…. You have no idea how you have spoken right to my heart which is grieving the unwanted change that a pending divorce brings. I have been thrusted full force into loneliness, grief, fear and anger, etc. but I am desperate for Him and experiencing Him in the deep waters of change. I hear His voice speaking the life giving words of hope that give me strength to believe He has the final word on my life and what He says about who I am is more powerful than any man. I’m His daughter and I like to think He is a whole lot protective of his Princess’s. Thank you for pressing in and hearing His voice to encourage others. I’m ‘turning towards His Grace’!

    • I am facing the same situation. After 39 years, my husband left me and is asking for a divorce. Things have not been good for a long time, but we just lived. He left in a year of wonderful blessings for our family. Our first grandchild was born and 2 of our sons were married during this past year. All these wonderful things happened with a cloud of awkwardness because of the pending divorce. I still want to have faith that God will touch my husband’s heart and turn it to the Lord and will realize with God’s grace we can face the issues of the past and move forward together.
      I, too, am feeling closer to God through this and am trying to stand firm. Decisions need to be made concerning our home, where I am currently living and where we raised our 4 children, all married now. I am seeking wisdom and trying to not be overcome with emotions.
      I will be praying for you, as well.

  23. What a great post. So glad I read it. I’m dealing with some large changes in my life right now and it has been a struggle. Health issues have stirred up quite a bit of fear and anxiety. I’ve always been one that others can count on and for the past few months I’ve been asking others if I could lean on them. Something that has always been so difficult for me. I know God is with me as I go through this journey. I know it is bringing me closer to Him. Blessings to everyone here for a beautiful Christmas filled with love and hope~