One Sure Thing That Changes Change

We live in Istanbul. We’ve been here six years. We’re moving back to England next year.


Huge change.

Two of our children are fine with that. Two are not.

It’s tough.

The last few days have been full of questions and assertions from my two children who want to stay here.

“Are we definitely moving back to England?”

“I don’t want to leave Turkey.”

“I just don’t get it. There’s no logical reason to move back.”

“Why don’t we ever have a choice in where we go?”

“Why do we just have to follow you, and do what you want to do?”

“I don’t want to leave my friends.”

I understand. This is home for them. They have a wonderful school life and fantastic friends, with the deep relationships that come from being lumped together with kids of many nations, sharing the same experience of being foreigners in Istanbul.

I don’t want to give them glib answers:

“You can still keep in touch with your friends via Skype.”

“It’s OK, you’ll make lots of new friends once we’re back in England.”

It may be true, but it doesn’t take away the pain of leaving friends.

It doesn’t take away the year ahead of upset at the thought of leaving.

I want to acknowledge what they are feeling. It is real. It is heartfelt.

My daughter, in tears, begs me that we can stay. I’m in tears too. All I can say is, “I’m sorry. I’m so very, very sorry.”

It’s hard not to feel guilty. It’s hard not to feel like we’re messing up our kids.

It’s hard to see my kids so upset, when there’s nothing I can do to change the situation...



And I’ve realized that’s what we need to do. Pray.

We need to pray as a family.

That and be more vulnerable. Together. In. This.

And so we call a family meeting. We give each one a turn to share their heart. We share the good things and the bad. We cry together. And we pray.

And now, some months on, next summer has become this summer. Our flights are booked. Just a few short weeks away.

There’s still mixed feelings. There’s still sadness. It’s natural of course. We will leave something of our hearts behind.

But, God has worked. And now I hear:

“When we’re in England, I’m going to make my bedroom the nicest one ever.”

“In England, I want to call my new kitten ‘Cookie’ but Dave (older brother) says he’s going to call his dog ‘Cookie Monster’!”

“I can’t wait to live near James and Jessie.” (cousins)

“We can eat bacon everyday!”

“We won’t get stuck in traffic anymore.”

My daughter is even choosing her new school by carefully searching sites and seeing what colour uniform she likes best!

Yes, change comes.

Yes, change is hard.

Especially when it happens to those you love who did not ask for it.

And, yes, there’s always more change to come.

But the amazing thing is:

Prayer changes change!

And in the change God changes us.

So, if you are in a season of difficult change, take hope. If your children are in a season of difficult change, take hope.

Pray. Be together in it. Vulnerable. Praying.

Change will change. You will change.

Our faithful God will never change.

Extra Note: In our time of change, I’ve realized the huge importance of loving my husband and kids extra intentionally. Security and love go a long way in easing transition. As a family we are using The Cultivate Love Challenge: 50+ Ideas and Resources to Help Your Family Grow in Love, a free resource available on my site Just click the link. I’ve also started praying for my husband daily. He carries a lot of the practical weight of our move – selling up here, and starting new in the UK. I’m so enjoying praying for him (which has surprised me!) that I’ve written a mini eCourse called Enjoy 7 Days of Praying For Your Husband. Just click the link, and scroll down the post to sign up for free. (These resources are for anyone, not just those in transition. Enjoy!)

And now it’s your turn:

How have your kids coped or not coped with change?

How has prayer changed your change?

I’d love to know. Leave a comment below.


  1. Spring May 17, 2016

    We are looking at a year of transitions… leaving a one year internship in Belize to go back to the states and raise support with plans to return to Belize in June 2017.  We would also like to do 3-6 months of language study in the middle.  Did I mention I will be returning to live with my parents?  Or that I hate change??


    Thank you for the reminder in this post about what a Great God we serve who knows our ins and outs and knows our children/spouses/friends.  Blessings in your journey and the change you face!


    Thanks for the resources!  I am excited to look into anything that will help us through this time.

    1. Joanna @ May 18, 2016

      Thanks Spring! May your changes bring unexpected joy and blessing to you and your family. God’s peace and strength and grace to you in your change (especially the language learning and staying-with-parents bit!) 🙂

  2. Amy Young May 17, 2016

    Joanna, I love the line, “Prayer changes change.” That’s a great mantra for seasons of change!

  3. Joanna @ May 18, 2016

    Yes! Just need to remember it on the tough days 🙂 So much easier to get caught up in the emotion of change than to pray. Maybe it’s something I need to write up by my bedside.

  4. Adela May 18, 2016

    Was wonderful to read this and great to hear how far you’ve all come from that first decision. We are moving back from Brazil nearly at the same time!!!  Will remember you in my prayers and thanks for sharing.  Hope you continue to share your family experiences as you move back!

  5. Katie Coons May 18, 2016

    We’ve recently moved to rural Vermont from Shanghai. I was so eager for the move that though we did lots to say goodbye I was very glad to have left China after 10 of the past 14 years living there. My 3 children have had some hard transition though, and the most helpful thing we do is family circle time where each member of the family can share their joys and grief. It simply takes time and communication, years and laughter.

    1. Joanna @ May 19, 2016

      Yes, time is a big key. All the best as you continue to settle into your new life, Katie. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Francie May 18, 2016

    We’ve been in Belize now about 3 1/2 years because we felt God call us here. It has not been easy at all. I can say God made the transition smooth for all of our 9 kids. He has provided rentals, a job for my husband but after that we have been hit in so many ways. Our health has been effected, mine especially and we have battled so many attacks that we never have had in the states. They sometimes seem relentless. It is difficult to get clothing that fits or lasts along with shoes. The pay is poor and the cost of things expensive. We have badly been missing having a/c especially during April and May as it is now 86 degrees with heat index of 102. Seems to be a stronghold here spiritually as we have seen other US citizens who felt called by the Lord come here and sadly get whacked like us. Many have left after selling all to come here. We have had friends die whom my husband has had to ride in back of pickup truck with the dead bodies as they don’t do things the same as in states. I miss having things to do. If it may be catching a movie or walking around a mall. Maybe reading a book at a book store or coffee at a cute shop. Just fun and a more easy going life is what I miss. Why are we still here? Because we have not felt the release to leave. We are not sure if he called us out to protect from anything coming to the states or what. I am craving a visit to the states to see family and get adequate clothing and shoes for family. Finances to do such are just not available. So here we are and reading your post made me remember the changed we knew would come. How much easier it is to think of changed versus actually encountering them. We felt like we could conquer the world. Boy, were we wrong. We know God is faithful and we are more then conquerers through him who strengthens us. Thank you for your post.

    1. Joanna @ May 19, 2016

      Oh, Francie. Bless you for serving so faithfully when things are so tough. I will pray release for you. Release of finance for the things you need, and the trip you long to make, release from attack, and release to either stay joyfully or to be able to leave. God has you. He says, “Well done precious daughter. I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I’m thinking of you today and praying for you and your family.

  7. Ashley Felder May 19, 2016

    Yes! I recently read where Moses changed the Lord’s mind as he prayed for the Israelites. (Exodus 32) What hope! It re-lit a fire of expectation in my prayers.

  8. Natalia May 22, 2016

    Hello Joanna,

    Thank you so much for your post. As I read the beginning, I thought to myself, ‘wow this is exactly the way God is with us as His children!’ I mean, He is our Father and He knows that it’s time to move, and even if sometimes I felt that He didn’t really care how the change made me feel, He does care! Like the Lord Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” He cares. I just pray that I will have the right prayerful response the next time and even now as I am facing the side effects of change. 

  9. Joanna @ May 23, 2016

    Hi Natalia…that’s such a great thought. I hadn’t thought of it like that. Wow…yes, just as I cried with my daughter, so God cries with us. He knows and understands our pain and all we go through. He’s there, holding us in our times of most difficult change. Thanks for sharing, and all the best in your own change!

  10. Natalia May 23, 2016

    Thanks Joanna, and Amen!

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