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. When a challenge like this comes from a heart like yours….I cannot help but let it marinate deep down into my soul…

    As an MK and expat…I understand these feelings all too well. Jesus, help me to reach outward in my local community…in this season. It’s only through Him that I can even attempt it at all right now! Grace, grace….

  2. Thank you all for introducing Sara to me, she sounds like a wonderful person, sorry I did not get to meet her. Change is never easy and sometimes we fight it with every fiber of our being. It is only in giving it over to God and letting go that we begin to see how He is working in our lives. The struggle to have meaning in life when it seems so much has been taken from you, made me loose focus. All I have been told lately is how useless I am and what I burden I am, not being able to financially support myself has cause some to focus on my dependence on others and recrimination was their way of handling it. I allowed such talk to taint the world around me, by God’s grace I am refocusing and learning a far better use of my time. Thank you all here for your kindness and your patience. God bless you all.

    • Eileen, I’m so sorry for the ugly talk that’s been fed your way, such talk is so contrary to God’s vision of you. And since you are first and foremost His, then His opinion is the only one that counts! And He says you are a treasured possession (Exodus 19:5) and valued beyond measure! We value you here, too. So much.

      Praying change comes soon on that front, dear Eileen. You are loved!

  3. As I am knee-deep in boxes preparing for the 2nd move across state lines in 5 years, I needed this today. Feeling as though I’ve finally connected with community and friends, I can’t help but feel a bit anxious about having to start all over again. Being the odd girl out in the midst of well-established friendships; wondering if there is one, just one soul that will connect with mine. Treading lightly to see exactly where I might fit. One thing I rest in is though, is that although I might only be able to see small dots of color, God has the wide-angled view of the entire masterpiece He’s creating. That helps keeps me focused on the fact that He knows what He’s doing, and that there is a part I play in the midst of it.

    Moving out of state the first time put me in a place where I had to force myself to speak up, and not be timid when it came to interacting with others. By doing that, God has truly blessed me with an amazing community of people where I live. As intimidating as it may be to step out and take a risk, I have found that that is where some of my most beautiful and meaningful blessings have come from. So, as I prepare to leave one community behind and search for another to be a part of, I realize I can only do it by trusting God and taking a risk by reaching out. Risk, after all, stands for: Relentless In Serving the King. These very words: “But wherever God places me, I want Him to use me. So I must go out-ward. I must uncross my arms, rise from my chair, and do what I can to show a welcoming spirit. I must go out of my way to show people The Way.”, are exactly what my soul needed at this moment. Thank you for the reminder and for your encouragement today.

    • “One thing I rest in is though, is that although I might only be able to see small dots of color, God has the wide-angled view of the entire masterpiece He’s creating. That helps keeps me focused on the fact that He knows what He’s doing, and that there is a part I play in the midst of it.” ~ Oh Angela, this is a good word, friend. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful wisdom, your own welcoming spirit. You are a gift!

  4. Wow. this is great! THIS is exactly what I’ve been going through this past year. After we got married, my husband and I moved an hour away from the community we had. Close enough to stay in touch with those friends, but not close enough to be in community with them multiple days out of the week. We tried finding new community… yet I wasn’t ready to let the old community go (and I’m still now… sigh)… it’s definitely been a struggle. We’ve had a “break” the past few weeks from this community… and I believe God is preparing my heart to go back to it with arms outstretched, inviting others in.

    • I’m glad it isn’t just me, Anna. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story here ~ you’ve encouraged me to keep those arms outstretched, too. Praying for you right now, may this new community become as treasured as the old one. Amen.

  5. Hi Kristen,

    I too am a military wife (my husband is a Canadian Forces chaplain), and we too seem to be on the 2-3 year plan! In fact I am still unpacking boxes from our latest move this summer which after 13 years away has brought us back to our home province. Still a few hours away from our families, but by car rather than plane!

    This is the first time in three moves though where I don’t know anyone in the community that we live in. And since we live off-base it is harder to connect with other military spouses since I haven’t met very many yet.

    I have learned that I need to be proactive about meeting people and finding friends. I am planning to volunteer at our Military Family Resource Centre to connect with others in the military. There is a food bank in the area that I want to help out with. And I am off this morning to my first women’s Bible study in the area that I found through my daughters’ piano teacher (who is a pastor’s wife). Most importantly, I am learning to listen to the urging of the Holy Spirit. Some of my closest friendships in recent years have come as a result of an urge to reach out to someone and start a conversation when my natural inclination might have been to wait for someone to approach me.

    Each time we move, I pray that God would help me and the rest of my family to find good friendships. And I trust in His provision.

    Thanks for your words this morning as I go off to meet some new people!

    Sherry

    • Sherry—love seeing other chaplain’s wives online. I love your proactive approach. I hope you enjoy your Bible study!

    • Sherry, I too love your proactive approach. You are a light to many, a true Jesus sister with an out-ward lifestyle. You also reflect one reason I love being a part of the military family: Meeting women who live these beautiful things.

      One more thing: I want to be your neighbor. For realz. 🙂

  6. Sara’s story was one of the reasons I was brave enough to enter into the (in)courage community and then say yes to facilitating a group. I am so grateful for the lessons taught by a woman I won’t meet until heaven and for a place to grow in my relationship with God and other women! What an incredible gift and ministry this is!

    • Julie, that makes me cry. Ya know, I’ll never get over our Lord and the way He grows hearts close. I never met Sara in person, either, but I’m still learning from her, and I think I will be ’til we meet in heaven.

      And thank you for saying yes to facilitating a group! JOY! Your sisters here are grateful and you. are. beautiful. Thank you for being here, for being with us. xo

  7. Kristen,
    Yes, I’m like you, in the fact that I’d rather have the “old” friends than the unfamiliar “new” ones! I lost my best friend, Pam, last year to breast cancer, and I am struggling with finding someone that can move into that spot and be “Pam” to me! I am finding that no one, so far, has that ability. I’m realizing, even more so, just HOW SPECIAL of a friend she was, and that not everyone has those qualities. I take friendship way more personal and serious than, it seems, most people do. That being said, I’m trying, like you said, to get out there and do my part in making new friendships, and I want to thank you for the encouragement to keep doing so, even when it would be much easier to hide away from everyone.

    • Paulette,
      I just lost one of my best friends to breast cancer 6 months ago. I am also a military wife. I understand “it would be much easier to hide away…” There have been so many times that I have done that. In the end, that brought me down even more. I have joked with friends that I wish we could just all live on land together somewhere (in our own houses), because it’s just easier with the familiar ones we love. In the end, like Kristen said, we must go out of our way… get out of His way… so that we can move into new relationships. No one will replace your Pam, or my Susan, but there is someone waiting for her new Paulette. It’s so hard. He does have plans for us. Praying for your new friendships.

      For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

      • Karin, I am so sorry for the loss of your best friend. And that desire to hide away…I know that well. But marinating in our own self just – as you said – brings us down more. Still, it is hard to go out of our way sometimes, isn’t it? Always worth it, but hard.

        And can you believe I also joke about living in a “commune” with friends (yes, also in our own houses) because it’s easy and familiar? Ha! Too bad Maryland and Colorado are so far apart. 🙂

        Thank you for sharing here and being a part of this community. You are valued and so loved. xo

        • Oh, thank you, friend.
          I call it a “commune” too! 🙂 If Maryland and Colorado were closer, our spots would be close by 🙂
          This is a wonderful community – love just flows here. xo

    • Paulette, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine. And you just being brave and sharing your story and willingness to keep trying? It inspires me. Truly. I *love* what Karin said here: ” No one will replace your Pam, or my Susan, but there is someone waiting for her new Paulette.” I’m praying Paulette, that new friendships find you. While they may feel different, may they be just as special and fulfilling. May you feel your sisters here circling ’round you and cheering you on. ((Hugs))

  8. Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your heart. I can absolutely identify with this–before my husband joined the Air Force, he was a pastor. Before that, my dad’s company moved us every so often. The longest place I’ve ever lived was 7 1/2 years. THIS DOES NOT MAKE IT ANY EASIER. But I get it. And I try my darndest to connect as much as I can through the places I find myself. It takes pushes and sometimes shoves, but it can be done. You also have this amazing online home to reach out to those who might be otherwise tempted to sit and pout on the chair (been there myself!).

    Thank you!!! God bless you today.

  9. I can relate to every. single. word. in this post. I recently moved from Minnesota to Colorado on a whim. I challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone and trust that He knew what he was doing with me. As I have met a couple friends, I still have that feeling of “hello, why I am I doing all the work? I’m new, can’t you see that? Why aren’t you inviting me to do things?”. I have learned that if I open my heart, hands, and self, friends will come in to my life in time.

    • Carrie, welcome to Colorado! 🙂 And I’m so glad it’s not just me that struggles with a sense of hey-why-aren’t-you-inviting-me-to-things entitlement {weak smile}. But you share real wisdom here: When we open our heart, hands and self, we create a welcoming spirit that makes us approachable, and the friends *do* come in time. But the waiting is hard, isn’t it?

      Love you, Carrie. Thank you for sharing part of your story here! We need to hear it.

  10. The effects of the lesson’s Sara taught all of us will continue to live on for a long, long time. It’s all about just opening ourselves up right where we are. I feel sometimes like I am full of this great wisdom. But, its the practical application that alludes me. I know what needs to be done…somehow I get lost in the doing.

  11. Spoke straight to my heart!!
    We just moved. Again. 6th state in 28 years, but we lived 18 years in one community, and still (for whatever reasons) moved about every 3-5 years there.
    My life, once again, fit in the back of a 26 foot UHaul. It was humbling and glorifying all at once. And our last move was SUCH a blessing, we saw God prepare the way for us to land there – I wasn’t sure what would happen THIS TIME. Would He bless THAT much TWICE? In a row?
    Now it’s starting to feel more like home – after 10 days. Furniture is in place. Dishes in the cupboard. There’s still a craft room to organize, and beds to buy for the spare bedrooms, and I still don’t have ANY idea what God’s purpose is for us here…but hubby loves his new position (same company), and every day it’s one foot in front of the other.
    I’ll keep serving Him. Looking for His purposes. Taking those risks.
    Thanks for sharing!!

  12. Kristen, stop writing directly to me!!!! LOL! 🙂

    That is so where I am RIGHT NOW!!!!! I still haven’t really met anyone here and now my best friend (Bryan) is going to be gone for 7 weeks! Thanks for your encouraging words, now I just have to get over myself and meet some people!
    Love you and your blog posts!

    • I adore you, Jamie, and your encouragement means the world. You are darling and approachable and beautiful ~ friends *will* come! It just takes time, and the waiting time is hard.

      Just remember our door is open to you anytime ~ and I mean that! When you get home, let’s get together for lunch or dinner. Or both. 🙂 Much love to you, dear friend!

  13. Oh dear, I too needed to read this as my husband and I recently learned we will be moving to Japan with the AF for the next three years. We are “new” to the AF journey (still, three moves in three years) but I still struggle with leaving behind some of the friendships I had at our first base. These friendships are still in tact, but they’ve changed and that’s hard. It’s also hard to do the work of getting off that chair and putting forth the effort and engaging. Didn’t do that as well at this base. Praying Japan will be a new leaf turing over and learning how to be a better friend. Thank you for your honest words!

    • Hello AF Sister!

      Friendships do seem to go through seasons, changing with the passage of time. And if it’s any comfort, I believe the first years of the military life are just about the hardest to “get off that chair and put forth the effort.” So hopefully ~ prayerfully ~ things get easier with time, my friend.

      Also? We had a couple of friends stationed in Japan and. they. it. LOVED it. Praying you have the same experience, dearest. God bless and keep you!

  14. Thank you for this! We just moved yet again, after a year of living somewhere else, and before that 3 years in a place where massive amounts of people moved out every 3mos (family student housing in a college w/ a unique setup), and it is so hard to go through the process of making new friends — yet again. Especially when I feel so shy and miss those who I’ve left behind or who leave me! I know loving others is a huge part of the reason why we’re here on earth, but when you make such great connections with others, it’s hard to let them go (even though you can keep up virtually), move on, and put yourself outside your comfort zone! But, it’s exactly what He wants us to do. 🙂 Again, I really needed this, thanks for posting it!

  15. It makes me so happy that you have attachment issues because I’m certainly attached to you and I’m glad you’re going to keep me forever–because you’re stuck with me anyway. Ha! Love you. 🙂

  16. But wherever God places me, I want Him to use me. So I must go out-ward. I must “uncross my arms, rise from my chair, and do what I can to show a welcoming spirit. I must go out of my way to show people The Way.”
    Almost 50 and I am about to start all over …again. The words given in this article is what has been on my heart. 10 years here and now moving and moving again and moving again as we embark on the journey again of entering missions..once single and now married with children. Thanks for the reminder that I always need to keep trying, and I will be blessed…not always sitting in a corner and wondering who will bless me. I want to look forward to it…and not be afraid. Again, thanks for being sensitive to letting Him speak through you to encourage others.

  17. Thank you for this. I will start to unfold my arms more, I thought I was hugging myself, but maybe it was the opposite. Thank you.

  18. Thank you for writing this! I feel like you wrote it just for me. I recently moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco for work, leaving behind my closest friends. I only knew about 3 people in San Fran and wouldn’t call any of them my “Friends.” However, that statement or classification is changing (and not beceause of me). I really had to let God change my mindset and heart because, like you, I was tired of starting over and making friends. {I’ve moved a lot in my 30+ years.} And God has been changing my heart and giving me both the energy and perspective to pursue friendships both online and offline. And I’m very thankful to be an (in)courager for an awesome group, Rooted, where I’m making new friends daily. And I’ve also made a couple more offline. God is soo good! Thank you so much for writing this – and adding the helpful links! Blessings to you!

  19. I am glad to receive “in courage” from time to time. It gives me some new inputs and encouragment. As you said I should get out of my way to meet others. But i am suffering from a situation that I can’t get out of my way to meet people because of language. What can i do?i feel shy and rejected.

    • Mimi, that is mighty hard. A language barrier only complicates your situation and means more time is needed to make connections. Take heart ~ it will happen for you! Our Father knows your limitations and will be faithful to help you through them.

      “So we say with confidence: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:6

      Praying for you sister…thankful for you here and now.

  20. Kristen, thank you so much for writing this post today. Your words were very touching and comforting to the situation I’m going through. I have been in the middle of coping with a very devastating time of loss. I’m battling severe chronic illness and going through a very painful break-up. It’s been so hurtful to look to other friendships and relationships to fulfill the place I have for him in my heart. It’s so painful to imagine reaching out to new people, especially while being home-bound. I’m very encouraged by your beautiful words about how Sara did this. Your words about reaching out to others with “smiling eyes, a warm handshake, and a kind introduction to those people God brings in our lives” were so heartwarming. It is a beautiful opportunity of growth, and I’m so happy you reminded me of this today. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone in the attachments and worries that I’m facing, and that God always makes a way for us right where we are.

  21. Kristen, we are so alike. I had to warn a girl I’m rooming with at Allume to prepare to be my friend for a long time. Your wave last night gave me a huge grin, I’m a reacher. I’ve moved 10 times in 21 years of marriage because of school and banking job changes.
    Quick story: I want to learn to knit, I also want to meet people at my huuuuge church. I saw a woman knitting during AWANAs Sunday night. I introduced myself, asked if she’d teach me and we’re on for Sunday after next. I roll crazy like that. 🙂

  22. Being a military wife myself, I know how it feels to be the new person, and not have a lot of people take any sort of initiative to become friends with me. I’ve had to grow a lot, and focus on my end of it, and reach out. Ive made a lot of friends by welcoming new people into our church, and area, because I know what its like. Even if some of these new people seem like they might not click with me, I make an effort and welcome them with open arms. A lot of them have become good friends, and are really cool!

  23. I moved to Northern Virginia – literally two days ago.

    This smacked me upside the head in a big way. I desperately want to get connected in my new area. I just don’t want to be sad in the meantime.

  24. Thank you for being a positive reinforcement for me. I have been thinking a lot about the people coming across my path. I too echo your thoughts on wanting to be used by God wherever he places me. It is beyond my comprehension how awesome God is at shaping and forming me. My hope is to see each and everyone of these people through the eyes and heart of God. I really appreciated your words!

  25. Good post. It is often times very hard to make friends/communtiy. My hubby is an introvert and has different/unusual hobbies. Thus it is hard for him to make friends. He is trying by reaching out to co-workers & family.

    I have a little trouble also. I usually just start by sending co-workers encouraging cards, joining Bible studies, talking to other women at church.

    Outside of that I don’t have many true friends– due to work, living in the country and not being a big extrovert. I am jealous of people who can start conversations with others and strike up friendships. Another thing is that I don’t have any children. Most people at church have kids and conversations revolve around that.

  26. I am always look forward to you Blogs, Kristen. I see you and smile, as if I already know you as a friend. I still read your blog, as if looking through a window anticipating the arrival of a friend, waiting for you to say that your husband will be attending AW College at Maxwell AFB. Probably not likely, but if it is, then you have a ready made friend here.

    I remember when you all took Sara to the beach via skype, the memory still touches my heart. One day we will go to heaven, and there too, we will have many ready made friends, Sara will probably lead the welcome committee!

  27. Hi Kristen, I just happened upon this today. Your writing captures our military experiences. Thank you for using your voice to acquaint others with military life so that they know how they can be praying for their military neighbors. You have a calling and I am blessed to have met you. jana