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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Reader Interactions


  1. Kristen,
    Thank you for bringing home the reality that wives and families experience when they have lost a loved one who has given so much. I pray that would be our prompting to give back without hesitation. I’ve said is before and I’ll say it again – families of those who serve truly are the backbone of this country.
    Kelli- I am lifting you and your family up in prayer right now. Thank you for ALL the sacrifices your family has made. What an honorable man your husband is.
    I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. (John 18:14)
    Praying that you would feel the comfort of God’s everlasting arms around you and your family.
    Bev xx

  2. Psalm 34:18
    The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

  3. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

  4. Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
    John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

    2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

    Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

    Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

  5. Heavenly Father, I lift up Kelli, her loved ones, and all of the men, women and their families who serve our country. May these families know and receive comfort, peace and strength in your promise “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

  6. Thank you for remembering.
    And the practical tips — so good.
    I recently read a great book about grieving and the author shared how people gave her family restaurant gift cards in sympathy cards. I thought that was a perfect expression of thoughtfulness.

  7. Kristen, I praise the Lord this day for this beautiful post. Lord, I beg that you would lift Kelli and her family up today into your tenderly loving arms of comfort and grace their lives with your peace. Lord, you left us a beautiful promise in Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Please take her right hand today so that she may be comforted that you are leading her through.

    For every veteran, Lord I beg the same as loss can come in death, PTSD, TBI, and disability for them and their families. From one vet to another and to their families that bravely support them, thank you for your service and may you have peace today in His loving care 🙂

  8. Kelly, I’m lifting you & your family up in prayer right now. Remember God’s got you. Hold your head high & be strong.
    Psalms 147:3- He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
    Psalms 73:26- My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
    Thanks Kristen for this post. It’s a Blessing to encourage & intercede on one another’s behalf in prayer. May God’s peace be with you also.

  9. Kristen, thank you for sharing. This story truly touched my heart. I will pray for Kelli and her family and for all members of the milatary and their families who have given up so much, so we can be free. My favorite verse, that always brings me comfort is Jeremiah 29:11. “”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.”” May God continue to bless Kelli and her family and comfort them during this difficult time. Jesus loves you and will never leave you. I am so sorry for your loss Kelli. God bless xoxo

  10. Thank you Kristen,
    Jesus I claim these promises in Isaiah 41:10 for Kelli, Do not fear anything for I am with you, do not be afraid for I am your God, I will strengthen you be assured I will help you, I will certainly take hold of you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 66:13 As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you. I know You are with them, please carry them, and sustain them, and cover them with Your love, provision, guidance, and protection. Hold them as they grieve, and can’t sleep in the night. and let them feel Your Presence. In Your Name, Amen

  11. Kelli, may God continue to bless you and your family as you deal with your great loss. Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Semper fi

  12. From the pen of John Greenleaf Whittier: “The steps of faith fall on the seeming void and find the Rock beneath.” Glad to pray for you and your children, Kelli, that you will trust that the Rock is strong enough to hold your burdens and soft enough for you to feel continually enveloped in His love and grace. Sending a sister hug from New Hampshire….

  13. I lift my eyes to the mountains-
    Where does my help come from?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    The maker of heaven and earth.

    He will not let your foot slip-
    He who watches over you will not slumber,
    Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    Will neither slumber or sleep.

    The Lord watches over you-
    The Lord is your shade at your right hand,
    The sun will not harm you by day,
    Nor the moon by night.

    The Lord will keep you from all harm-
    He will watch over your life;
    The lord will watch over your coming and going
    Both now and forevermore.
    Psalm 121

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. Your story has touched my heart. I know that the Lord will watch and protect you and your beautiful family. I also firmly and without doubt believe that your wonderful husband will watch over and guard you each and every day. His spirit is next to you always and though he cannot physically be here, he is ALWAYS there with you. Love never dies, just sometimes takes a different form. You are in my prayers. ❤️

  14. There are so many verses that helped me when my husband died suddenly – but the one I still keep reading over and over is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
    My prayers are with you Kelli. This is a very difficult road God has put you on, but He is walking it with you.

  15. I don’t know you or this sweet family but I felt like I did because of this blog. The sadness over the loss of the marines became sort of personal. Thank you for the pictures. Those faces as long as God allows I will remember. I am grateful for the sacrifice and the love. Thank you is not enough. I pray for strength and endurance. I pray for support and friends that will not go away. Part of the vine we must support each other for the duration.
    My verse for this sweet wife and mom is Joshua1:9. May our God go with you wherever you go, Amen!

  16. Kristen, thank you for sharing this beautiful post. As the wife of an Air Force veteran, my heart aches for Kelli and her children. Such an unbelievable hard to walk through. Thank you, Kristen, for the practical suggestions for helping a friend who’s grieving.
    Kelli, I am praying for you and your family today as you walk through this First Memorial Day without your dear husband.
    Romans 15:13—”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

  17. Kristen, so sweet to open incourage and see this honor to Shawn and the Cambell family. I’ve been praying for Kelli and her children and my heart breaks for the hard work of grief and loss before them. But God is so faithful, as you’ve already shown. And the body of Christ. ..such enormous beauty in the hard. For Kelli ~Psalm 27:13-14 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!

  18. Kelli,
    My family and I just got back from the Memorial Day ceremony that our village hosts every year. Small, plastic toy soldiers were handed out to place in our homes and serve as a reminder of fallen soldiers. I placed ours on the window sill above my kitchen sink and then checked emails where I read your story. Our whole family has read about you and Shawn and your kids and we will be thinking of you and praying for you whenever we look at the soldier on our window sill. Our family mantra is: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
    I’m so, so sorry for your loss. Know that you are never alone.
    God bless you.

  19. Dear Kelli,
    My eyes fill with tears in reading of your great loss. I am so glad that your wonderful husband drew all of you in his embrace as he prayed before he left for duty. Your family is so lovely! You will continue to receive God’s blessings. This is a verse from the Bible that I love: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” -Psalm 34:17-19
    Over the years, I lost two dear husbands. The ONLY thing that has brought me through the difficulties in life is faith in the Lord. He never disappoints. Trust that completely. Lastly, dear Kelli, my dear mother taught me that “the Lord always provides.” You have already experienced this providing in your life from the beautiful message written by Kristen today. And, I promise you that you will see many, many times in your life, God’s great providence. Such awareness may come to you as an “Ah Ha” moment when suddenly what you have been puzzling over becomes clear; other times they may be special insights revealed to you during times of prayer and reflection. God has great plans for you…..He has entrusted you with being a mother to your wonderful children. It’s a great honor to work for God. He will continue to supply all that is needed to help you. I pray that you will experience Gods’ peace in your heart, today and always.

  20. Kristen, thank-you.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

    Psalms 147:3
    He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

  21. “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
    Kelli, I hope this verse can help both you and others going through a difficult loss right now. I will keep your family in my prayers.

  22. Be strong and of a good courage be not afraid neither be thou dismayed for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest Joshua 1:9 let thy widows trust in me Jeremiah 49 11 I just want you to know I have lifted you up in my prayers. This post really touched my heart. As a veteran I have so much respect for all veterans of all services. Especially those who gave the highest honor. God bless you and your family.

  23. You and your children also made the ultimate sacrifice in your loss. May our Heavenly Father keep you and your precious children safe and covered in peace and strength to carry on.
    With love and prayer and forever grateful heart,

  24. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me……join in with song and prayer. bam

  25. Kristen, You have done a nice thing for a widow that needs prayer and help. Unless one has experienced the death of a spouse, there is no way to understand the pain. As one widow to another, by mantra for many months since his passing has been “Philippians 4:13” ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. I wish I knew her address as to send a warm hug.
    This is one of the hardest times you will ever face and now is when you need to lean on Christ like never before. God Bless!

  26. This is both a tragic and beautiful story, and full of love and grace. I’m sure there would have been a different grief, had he left without the prayer. it’s a lesson for all of us not to take trivial squabbles so seriously. We all step into cars, subways and planes everyday. Love is not bitter but kind and forgiving. I think He was comforting the family before it even happened with a father’s love. Kelli and her family still have that love and that of a Heavenly Father. Thank you for your service and sacrifice and example of love. Shawn Campbell, I salute you this Memorial Day.

  27. Kelli: Continued prayers for your family.

    A verse that helped me through a very difficult time was Proverbs 23:18: “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

    Kristen: Thank you for showing us the way. xo

  28. Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear not, nor be dismayed.”

  29. Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

  30. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

  31. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1
    My husband is a recently retired Black Hawk pilot. The above verse was put on his heart for us when we lost our child. We both followed the story of the crash intently since it hits home for us. I specifically prayed for this family. For this wife.

  32. Dear Kelli, I first was introduced to you and your family through your sister Christie. I have prayed for you that God would be your refuge, strong tower, and sure defense. One verse that I keep in my kitchen and is a fighter verse for me is Ps. 56:9: Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is FOR me.” I pray you will know He is FOR you, when the enemy of our souls whispers lies, tries to weaken your faith, and make you despair. May our Warrior King fight for you as you use His word.

  33. Kristen,
    Kelli–So deeply sorry for your loss. I am praying God will provide comfort to you and your family. May you feel His peace and loving arms surround you. Thank you very much for your husband’s service to our country! You all gave everything! “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy! John16:20
    Blessings 🙂

  34. Kelli, you don’t know me, but I think of you and pray for you and your family often. I know that I’m one of many. Sending my love and my confidence in God’s love. <3

  35. Kristen,
    Thank you for putting a name and a face to our prayers this Memorial day. What a blessing you are!

    All of us here are crying with you sister! My prayers are with you and your family. Bless you!
    Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

  36. Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

  37. Kelli, I’m so very sorry about Shawn’s passing, and am deeply grateful for his service to our country. I can tell what an amazing husband, dad, and follower of Christ your family had from Kristen’s words and the photos you shared. Please know that I am sincerely praying for your family, trusting God to hold you close day by day, hour by hour, moment after moment. Again, I am so very sorry for what you and your children are going through.
    “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

  38. Sweet Kelli,
    “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” {Isaiah 46:4, NIV}
    I am praying for you and your four littles as you navigate life without Shawn. May you feel the love of God and all those around you minute by minute. Blessings from another Mama of 4.

    • Kelli,
      Malachi 4:2
      But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings. And you will go forward and leap joyfully like calves released from the stall and leap for joy.

      Nehemiah 8:10
      …..Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

  39. I meant to comment on Memorial Day, but as an Army wife walking through Memorial Day and the week following life and time have prevented that. I wanted adequate time to read and reflect and comment. So here I am. Kristen, thank you for sharing Kelli’s story. Kelli my heart and soul grieves and mourns with you. I am so sorry for your loss. I pray that in sharing this and reading the comments of others you brings you encouragement and strength. Your sharing this will help so many other Gold Star families find hope and help and courage. While I have not experienced the loss of my husband, we are in the Army as I said, and the first year as he went through flight school (he flies UH-60M), we had our first child. She died when she was a month old. It was devastating. Losses cannot be compared, but when you suffer such a devastating and unexpected loss and find others who have walked a similar path of grief and can be comforting knowing your walk is not alone. God gave me strength and healed my heart as I read stories online shared by other mommas just as you’re sharing your story of your husband and family. I found when I didn’t want to pray, I prayed. When I didn’t want to worship, I worshipped and sang praise songs. I clung to verses like the ones shared here – especially the truth that God was with me. I struggle to find words but I’m so thankful you and your husband were both Christ followers. I know you take comfort in knowing there will be a day again when you will embrace each other and all will be made right. I pray over your heart and your children, for strength and courage and healing and comfort and peace. Expect God to give you and your children what they need because He will. Love to you.

  40. Dear Kelli,
    You are in our prayers dear sister. May the Lord draw hear to you and your little ones. May you feel his great love and comfort. May he sustain you each day.

    Psalm 119:48-50
    48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
    that I may meditate on your decrees.
    49 Remember your word to your servant,
    for you have given me hope.
    50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
    much love and blessings, Maia