About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. Robin,
    As usual, absolutely beautiful and spot on! I have spent holidays in both camps – the camp of joy and savoring the holidays and the camp of I don’t know if I can bear another day of this and sometimes I’ve had a foot in both camps…the bittersweet.

    Your list of “R’s” is so true…feelings can and do lie. Claiming truth when we are blue or downright depressed is next to impossible, but so instrumental. I also have seen the redemptive purpose of the pain I’ve gone through…my husband leaving, my dad dying, my ocd and depression…they have all raised my compassion for others to a level I never would have gotten to otherwise. If my pain, can be someone else’s comfort or encouragement, then to God be the glory.

    Most of all God promises to walk “through” the valleys with us. He will not leave us stuck there. Praying for all those struggling with the holidays…I’ve been there…this is your time to lean close into the Lord and let Him carry you through. There are no badges for pulled up bootstraps. All wonderfully said, Robin…
    Blessings and hugs,
    Bev

    • Bev,

      I’ve spoken with too many people who can barely make it to the new year. It’s real…it’s hard…and I think Christians in particular struggle with the guilt of knowing they have great reason to be thankful despite circumstance, but having a hard time anyway. Sometimes life is downright awful/tragic/unbearable and it’s okay to be sad/mad/all the feelings. But…we can’t stay there and this was my gentle push to acknowledge the pain in our situations without staying there forever.

      Thank you for your encouraging words today (and always). Hugs and joy to YOU!

  2. Dear Robin,

    Thank you for this on time and honest devotional. Life is truly not about us. God will always get the glory out of our mountaintop and valley moments. I have been on both ends of the spectrum during the holidays. There is nothing new under the sun and everyone will experience a valley moment in their lives. I will say that is always pays to keep your mind fixed on God and the people around us. We do have to take a moment to be honest with God and the people around us. If we need help or extra prayer, we need to as for help. As you beautifully stated, no one can read another person’s mind. Also we have to ask ourselves, how would we feel if a loved one needed something we had the ability to give them but they were afraid to ask us? That would hurt so we need to give people in our lives the ability to be a blessing to us. Prayer is an necessity. God does not want us to be religious but he wants a true and authentic relationship with us as his children and disciples.

    Thank you for this encouragement. I appreciate the writers on incourage, me because you guys lovingly tell the truth. May God continue to bless and encourage you all today and always. Have a wonderful upcoming holiday season.

    In Christ’s Love,
    Ada

    • Ada,

      Your words are a love letter right back–thank you! I think the difficulty is magnified because believers most often DO know WHAT they’re supposed to do and how to respond, but sometimes we’re held hostage by the brokenness of it all, by our humanness. But…eventually, we have to receive and accept what we already have, to abide in Truth and trust the One we proclaim.

      Blessings to you in the coming days :).

  3. Soooo beautifully written Robin!! I remember my first DEEP DARK valley …. My husband had been killed in a farm related accident. We had a 15 year old daughter who adored her daddy. When the holidays arrived I knew we had to focus on others to survive. By Gods grace, the idea of celebrating Christmas morning at the pediatric ward at a local holiday loaded with gifts, certainly helped erased alllllllll that we didn’t have al home. God changed our focus and it was on loving His peoples. My daughter healed so much that day. I’m forever grateful. God is with us!

    • Oh my word, Monty. What a glorious offering you gave those children. What a lovely testimony to your faith! What an incredible gift to your daughter! Well done, Mama…Thank you for sharing! (and {{hugs}} I just can’t help but give ’em!)

  4. Such an excellent post. I can relate to nearly every one of the points you shared, having experienced loss and difficulties that seemed to cloud the holidays at one time or another in my life. I think we all have. Thank you so much for reminding us to look beyond our lives and our families and our fun times…to others around us who are hurting.

  5. What a lovely, well-written, heartwarming post. Such a blessing for the hurting. I have been there in one way or another. There have been times when my faith was tested and I didn’t see how any good could possibly come until I was able to look back and see the good God developed in me as I tested him. Life has been a process of learning to trust him with everything. I love the way your post encourages transparency and embracing people where they’re at. That’s just what God has always done with me. When I’m real with him and go to the depths of the pain with him (instead of rushing through or trying to put on the mask of “everything’s okay”), he works the most amazing miracles in my heart. Growth and healing come. Thanks Robin!

  6. Robin’s words and the replies are truly inspired by God. I am experiencing a valley that I’ve felt so trapped in. I have felt the guilt you mentioned because I want to be victorious and here I am sad and crying in the valley. I am standing for what appears to the world as a dead marriage. On paper my husband and I are divorced. But God! has given me directions to stand for our marriage. I believe God is healing even though I don’t see. The enemy hit hard during this time of the year. Your words have encouraged and lifted me to where God wants me to be. This is temporary. God has a better plan. Jeremiah 29 : 11

  7. Oh my goodness, I needed this post so very much this morning. My husband passed away very tragically 5 months ago, and this was the first “holiday” without him for my boys and I. It was much much harder than I ever imagined and yet I am so grateful that TODAY is a new day and His mercies are new every morning. I will be referring to this blog post often as I go through this holiday season. Thank you again sweet friend for sharing your heart with those who need it so much.

  8. Wow! I really need this message! Outwardly I appear to be fine, but inside I’m depressed and grieving. I was left paralyzed after a complicated spine surgery. I get to a point where I think I have accepted this, and then I realize I will never walk again and the depression returns. I struggle to find God’s will in my life although I know I am not alone in this. I will get through this holiday season by concentrating on the true meaning of Advent and Christmas. I will also try to be gentle with myself.

  9. Robin,
    Thank you for acknowledging this day for what it is. I have been crying since I woke up for all the reasons you list. I have a weird family dynamic with family that is not technically related. I’ve been going through a tremendous dark time- super depressed and wanting to die. I did not go to the “family’s” house yesterday for certain reasons and this morning woke up to a nice post on FB about how if I stay alone and miserable I’ll always be alone and miserable. It’s so hard because no one understands how hard a recent breakup for me really was. In some ways I think they would rather not acknowledge it because they are not warm and fuzzy feeling people. Instead I’m left feeling even more isolated and alone. Many people are taking personal offense to my darkness right now- many good friends walking away because I couldn’t be enough of a friend for them during this time. It’s so hard and I know God has a plan and that this will all work out for good somehow. But it’s so hard to claim that faith when there are non-believers slandering me. And like you said, it’s easy to know what to do but another thing to just do it and not let the emotion of it get to you. Your words were so comforting to me this morning and I just thank you that you have took a stand for people like myself that are just tired of fighting and explaining. Thank you.

  10. Dear Robin, your words are like balms of hope for me right now. As you said it’s wearying to talk about the pain, but I have had 4 blue years and some days i can’t seem to see the end. My saving grace is my job as a newborn nursery/postpartum nurse. I thank God for this job and for the amazing group of people that I work with. I am also grateful for my husband who is my best encourager. And I am grateful for dear people like you who take the time to share words of hope and healing and to reach out in love. Thank you and may God bless you in many delightful and JOYfilled ways.

  11. Thank you for the encouragement! We are currently seeking employment for my husband, but it’s a mixed blessing – he’s been so under-employed for the past 4 years, that the loss of his job didn’t make much of a glitch (I have a steady job). But, I also don’t feel the freedom for any “fun” – dinners out (other than pizzas on sale), movies out, and lots of seafood for meals. So, prayers are appreciated. Thankfully, I have a locked-in-stone, non-negotiable Christmas Club account, that withdraws and locks in money each month. So each year, no matter what, Christmas is paid for, in cash. That’s a huge relief in these times!

  12. Thank you Robin. Your words of encouragement were more than needed today. I have been a believer for 65 years, (just turned 70) and have been through many “blue Fridays” and every word you wrote holds true!!

    As I look at my family, all being believers and actively pursuing Jesus, their are many problems, some self inflicted and others that are not so understandable. (That happens when you have 4 children with intact large families, 21 children between them.) At any rate, I myself still get the “blues”. What you just wrote is, I can tell you from experience, TRUE!

    Blessings to you for taking time during this frantic time of year to encourage us.

  13. Oh Robin, you did a fantastic job. This was what I needed right now. Life right now, especially today, has been hard. I felt horrible for feeling ungrateful the day right after we’re supposed to be extra thankful, but you have reminded me of such important things. And thank you for reminding me that I am not alone in feeling like this. I will continue to hold onto the hope that things will get better.

  14. Robin,
    This article was perfect for me today . Please remember my husband …he has several health issues…
    Hugs …Renee

  15. Beautifully said Robin! So glad you have a testimony to share on this!
    Yes! It can be hard! It HAS been hard for me in past years… and I’m so grateful God has redeemed those seasons!
    As a young woman, from October to June was a season of sadness and memories of missing my mom who passed away when I was 13. She had died the week before my birthday, and her birthday was in June… And every week was a step closer to another painful holiday.
    As a young Mom, my angst was shifted from missing my mom to the frustration of never being able to satisfy our family and extended family. Balancing in-law issues and frequent moves made holidays stressful and impossible to enjoy.
    Now, as a grandma myself, with no older family generation to appease, I find that the best gift I can give my married children (and grandchildren!) is the no-strings-attached gift of celebrating holidays as they wish! No guilt trips, no hassles! If they want to come over, I’m elated! If they have the opportunity to go somewhere else, I’m overjoyed! Life is too short to get emotional over who will (or won’t!) be at my table for a holiday.
    My solace is found in the joy of knowing God has walked this journey with me. He is in my home, at my table, and I lift my prayers as we plan… Let it be for His glory!! So different than my emotional earlier days, that were so confusing… My constant – we will always have room for one more! Stranger or friend, may He bring to our door those that need to be here…

  16. Thank you for such comforting words…we are also going through some hard times in our family…so this was a real encouragement!

  17. Robin Faith does not have anything to do with emotion but my emotions seem to affect my faith. I have been writing a blog because I feel led and God has prompted me but it is raw and real and my last post is a good example-http://healingtakesalifetime.blogspot.com/2014/11/exhaustion.html
    Please feel free to leave any comments you may have. Thank you.

  18. Thank you for such a well writen post. I’m having one of those blue seasons in my life right now. My husband has a serious illness, which requires daily treatments and care. I have fibromyalgia and live in chronic pain, and am also my husband’s care giver. Our finances are… well can you call it financial trouble if you have nothing left after the mortgage and utilities? I feel like such a loser, during this time where I’m supposed to be buying gifts and being merry.

  19. Robin, thank you!
    Such a beautiful reminder for the grieving and for those who can easily forget that others are grieving. While reading this God has brought a few people to my mind to pray for and to uplift.

  20. Thank you for these words because this was our first Thanksgiving since Mom went to Heaven in May and I miss her, and this will be the first Christmas and those were two special holidays for she and I. I will be relieved when it is all over.