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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things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. This devotion was much needed today. I just decorated our home of twenty years for the last Christmas, as 2024 will bring a move closer to our family. I love Kristen’s book, When Change Finds You, and have gifted four people with it so far!

    • I so needed to hear this. Huge change – beautiful and sad – has marked the last 15 months. Thank you this message of letting go and opening to Jesus instead of holding tightly to expectations. This message is truly a blessing to me.

      • I’m so glad, Paula. It’s a message I’m preaching to my own heart as well. Thank you for so kindly sharing such encouragement in the midst of your own difficult change. May you and yours have a very Merry Christmas.

    • Donna, you bless me tremendously by sharing this. Thank *you*. And I’m praying right now that your Christmas season overflows with joy and peace even as you face so much difficult change. Sending you and yours much love.

  2. SO MANY hit the mark thoughts in this post I’ll be reading & rereading & sharing not just today but for years to come! Thank you! Blessings (((0)))

  3. Thank you reminding us to focus on the things that are truly important. After we lost our home and many of our possessions this summer, some of our traditions have had to change. You reminded me that I still have the ones I love, and the traditions including them are what I need to focus on. And, of course, celebrating the reason for it all, the birth of Jesus!

    • I’m sorry for your loss, Judy, and what an encouraging perspective you hold that blesses those of us who’ve walked a similar road. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  4. I want our home to be that place of familiarity and traditions for my young grandchildren and have already planned a cookie bake with them, for the first time instead of a cookie bake with my daughters, it will be with their children. Then, we are taking them to our neighbors to be neighborly, and I must say, I might enjoy showing off my adorable grandkids too!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing. My 97-year old mom had a stroke a month ago – next Tuesday we will be leaving rehab and taking her back to her home of 50+years. We have to set up 24-hour care, food arrangements, etc. (coordinating with family members which can be challenging.) Covid changed everything, so we haven’t had Christmases at her house since but this year, I’m not even sure how to decorate her house or what to do. ❤️

    • Gayle,

      Keep it simple. Maybe put up a small tree with a few ornaments & lights. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas. Remember it is Jesus’ birthday. He just wants us to be together enjoying each other’s company. One thing I always did with my folks was go to grocery store & get a meal. It made the holidays so much easier. You have all the food you need & time to plan reflect on the past, present & future.

      Blessings 🙂

  6. “Dear one, may your own Christmas expectations of experiences, of others, and of yourself be minimal and manageable. And may your heart prepare Him room by simply expecting Jesus this Christmas: Christ around you, Christ in you, and Christ always, always for you.”
    This is just what I needed to hear. My husband passed away on Jan. 1st. We have two grandsons, and I knew this year was going to be different at Christmas. I’m doing just what you said—simply expect Jesus. This was an answer to prayer.

    • Brenda,

      Sweet sister so so sorry for the loss of your beloved husband. Prayers for peace & comfort as you all expect Jesus. Asking God to get the family together & be there for each other. Cherish the memories you have of your husband.

      Blessings 🙂

  7. Thank you, Kristen! I have been pondering this very issue: how best to celebrate Christmas this year. So far I have dodged the “Decorate right after Halloween” craze. I’m starting on December 1. And I’m going slow and easy and a bit minimalist. Well see how that goes. Prayerfully we go along…

  8. Good morning Kristen. Thank you. Yes, this year has been full of a lot of ups and downs and change!!
    We moved into a family home. First, because renting it out had become tiresome for my in-laws. Second to be closer to them and the rest of the family. It’s a blessing. My husband also suffered from some work injuries that have been very challenging. Good doctors have helped. Thank you God! And lastly, Christmas hosting is “in the air”. My sister -law usually hosts, but she is soooo busy. Our house is kinda small for 12 people and my in-laws did Thanksgiving and they are pooped still!
    I love SoCal because of family and our church. But I admit, I’d rather be cooking in Utah. Gazing at God’s majesty in the mountains. I miss Utah. I miss the fall season. I miss Christmas snow. I miss the strong faith that is expressed on almost every doorstep.
    Don’t get my wrong… I’m very grateful! Guess I needed to purge hahahah
    I know God’s got this. I know He will direct and all will work out according to His plan. I just need to Let it Go….
    …and pay attention to His many gifts right in front of me!!

  9. Kristin, this devotional was much needed and such a blessing to me. After a breast cancer diagnosis right before the holidays in 2021 I decorated early and put a lot of pressure on myself to have decorations up early last year. I am approaching 2 years in remission and really wanted to move at the same speed with decorations this year. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to enjoy Christmas if everything wasn’t done. Well here I am on the last day of November with a tree without lights and a bare mantle, and I recently found peace with not having everything finished before December 1. I will still find peace and joy in the season by listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, and enjoying the presence of my family. Decorations will come and go, but His love, peace, and joy are for every season.

  10. Kristen, thank you for sharing these encouraging thoughts with us. I can relate to so much of what you wrote about, as we lost our mother to cancer in 2020 and our family home of many years just months after that. What made it worse and more difficult to process was that my parents lived in Ontario, while my sister and I (who married American husbands), live in NY and MA. So with closed borders, our father had to do everything alone, and we were not able to be there to help or even see our mom before she died. And we missed sorting possessions and saying good-bye to our home.
    So I also have not only dearly miss our mother, but feel the loss of that second home, a place where we would travel once or twice a year to stay with our parents and vacation or celebrate holidays. It’s a great loss for sure.
    But I so appreciate your advice to keep things simple and focus on what matters. It’s been an interesting and difficult few years, but God is faithful and he is the reason we celebrate Christmas.
    God bless you!

  11. It’s hard to move forward sometimes leaving some traditions behind when we loose loved ones. And create new ones.

    I’m with today’s author and sometimes wish the loved ones and their fact traditions were still with us in real life and not just our memories, but I cherish the memories of Christmas past.

  12. Thank you for this well-said reminder to focus on what’s actually important. We chose not to decorate to the hilt this year (even though that was not my first choice), because it allowed us to focus on other commitments we’d already made. And I love what you shared about lighting a candle daily: “I will do this as a reminder to keep looking up to Jesus instead of out toward my circumstances.” Yes! Looking up with you! 🙂

  13. Kristen,

    Our Christmas always looks different from others. We both work in hospitals & may end up working Christmas day. We’ve adopted simple ways to celebrate. One way is putting up a “Charlie Brown” tree. It is small with ornaments & lights. Instead of worrying about presents for each other I pick 1 or more seniors off a senior angel tree & get gifts for them. We also watch Charlie Brown Christmas each year. This year my husband smoked a 17 lb. turkey. I enjoy a nice meal with just the two of us.

    Blessings 🙂