Looming Transitions {And a Giveaway!}

by | Jan 19, 2016 | Guest Post

On the day we moved into our new home in London, my bestie LuAnn, sent me a message from Kansas asking if we might be able to put up a friend in our guest room. Yes, was my immediate response. In June, on their way home from serving in Tanzania, LuAnn’s friend Kelly and her teenage daughter became the second visitors to use our guest room. As we got to know one another, we learned we had more than my best friend in common.

Amy Young, a virtual writing friend, had introduced Kelly to the Sabbath Society during a speaking engagement in Kansas. Small world? I’d say our God is big and friendship with him is small town. He knows where you live and He will connect you with people often if you are open to it.

Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend Amy and her new book on navigating transitions. You can purchase a copy here but she is gifting her book to one lucky person today. As you know, I’ve had a bit of experience with Looming Transitions myself. Read on!


Even if you never move further than up or down your block, we all live lives of transitions.

I love to hear the back-stories on books or movies. This week Looming Transitions: starting and finishing well in cross-cultural service, was published. In 2007, I transitioned back to China after a three year study leave in the US. About eight months into my transition being (mostly) over and life up and running in China, I was feeling (mostly) settled. My organization asked to lead a workshop on how to finish strong in the last semester of an assignment overseas. I jumped at the chance; fresh off my own Band-Aid ripping off experience, I figured I had help to share.

All I needed to do was conduct a little bit of internet research, read some articles, throw in a few personal stories, and voilà one basically ready-made presentation. My plan went off without a hitch until I did my first internet search. Almost everything about “ending chapters” and “finishing well” in life was related to retiring. Retiring is certainly a major area for looming transitions and finishing well. But what about all of the transitions that we go through when an end is coming, yet life will still go on after the transition?

The first year I presented the workshop, I pulled together a few thoughts and told myself the problem was my late start in the search. Information was out there and I would find it. During the next year, I found a book called Finishing Well by Bob Buford. According to the cover, it was “based on inspiring interviews with 60 remarkable people.” Looking back, I can’t remember how I got the impression that this was the resource I was looking for, but it wasn’t because it also focused on retiring. Still no help for the workshop. I went back to the list of ideas I had created the first year, added more meat to them and the idea of a book began to grow.

Until I began to search for resources to help with transitions, I hadn’t considered how much transitions are a part of life. Somehow I had the idea that I’d some day “land” in my life. At the time I started working on this project my mom was helping her aging parents at the end of their life, friends had kids who were getting ready to transition to college, and siblings were considering career changes. In every case, life would continue after the transition. My mom would still be a daughter, my friends would still be a parent, and my siblings would still be an employee, but in each case there were muddy waters to navigate.

It turns out, life is a series of transitions.

This is both comforting and exhausting, isn’t it?!

Of particular interest to you since like me, you’re drawn to Shelly, the idea of keeping our souls fertile is woven into Looming Transitions. Allowing parts of yourself to die in order to create space for new life and seasons is not for the faint of heart. But it can be done.  The burning question this book answers is how can we keep your soul fertile and sanity intact during transitions?

There are no simple platitudes offered in Looming Transition. You won’t find “three easy steps to anything.” You will find suggestions for your soul, your stuff, and your sanity. As one reviewer put it:

“This book is targeted towards those who are transitioning to or back from international experiences. I am not part of that audience, but I found this book very useful. The advice and thought-provoking writing included in this book helped me as I processed both my cross-country move and the death of my father. The author uses personal examples, humor, analogies, and a conversational tone to initiate readers’ own thoughts and ways to approach their unique situations. The time I spent reading this book was very worthwhile, and it’s a book I plan to periodically reread as I approach new life transitions.”


As a resource during transitions, I’ve created graphics (like the ones in this post) you can use for blogs, newsletters, and social media.

I’d love to offer a copy of this book to one of you or someone you know going through a transition. Just leave a comment about the type of transition and you’ll be entered into a drawing. The winner will be announced here on this post, this weekend.

Amy Young - looming-transitions_cover


Amy YoungWhen Amy Young, author of Looming Transitions: starting and finishing well in cross-cultural service, first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words needed in life, right?! She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at The Messy Middle. The tag is “where grace and truth reside.” People tend to be drawn to grace, grace, grace OR truth, truth, truth. Either side doesn’t require much discipline, do they? Instead they foster auto-pilot living. But real life happens … in the messy middle, with both. It can be maddening, right? But also exhilarating! She also works extensively with Velvet Ashes as content creator and curator, book club host, and connection group coordinator.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. JViola79

    Sounds like a wonderful book. I was grateful this morning for the reminder – “life is a series of transitions.” We are always in the process of being changed & transformed by our God. Thank you for sharing about this book & for the opportunity! Blessings!

    • Amy Young

      I don’t know how I got the idea as a kid that adults lives were more fixed than they are … but it was in me pretty deep. Now that I have made peace (semi-peace?) with this reality of life, it has helped.

  2. Cathy

    This sounds like just what I need to read. I am transitioning from being needed by my children all the time (I am a former homeschool mom) to one away at college and the other in high school. The one away has tons of transitional issues. Bless you for writing this book.

    • Amy Young

      Thank you Cathy! I’m not a mom, but I understand being transitioned out of a job I loved against my will :). My mom always said when my youngest sister went off to college her (my mom’s) depression for a while was because of forced retirement from a joy she had wanted and loved. Prayers and blessings!

  3. Kelly W

    Sounds like a fabulous and needed resource Amy! Good for you for following it up. I have taken many contract positions in my career because there is always another contract available. Until last summer. My region has been hard hit by oil prices and while I work in research, everyone is looking for positions these days. Trying to wait patiently for the next step… not my strong suit. I know I am not defined by my job or activity – but,… transition again.

    • Amy Young

      Yes, yes, yes. Not defined by our jobs or activities, BUT waiting patiently can be hard 🙂

  4. Ruth

    I’m not just going through A transition… It seems like many transitions in a short time. After being widowed two years ago, pretty much everything else in my life has changed as well. Changes and losses in close friendships, transitioning with jobs and roles at church, and more than I can think to write have all been adding up. But I can see God’s working and leading in the midst of the grief and uncertainty as well.

    • Amy Young

      It is amazing how they kind of sneak up on us and then when we say or write them all down, suddenly it might help to validate all we have gone through. I’m sorry to hear about the death of your husband. My dad also died two years ago and I know what a transition it has been for our mom. My thoughts and prayers go out to you!

  5. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Well, this is pretty awesome….my irl friend Amy and her wonderful book….via my invisible-but-very-real friend Shelly. May God bring this book into all the hands that need it!

    • Amy Young

      Oh my word! I’m happy clapping! Now for the day when we are all in the same space together. …

  6. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Amy! You are the Messy Middle Lady! I do remember your blog and your wisdom. So lovely to see you at Shelly’s. She has a wonderful way of sharing her friends. Ah, transitions! You are so right. They’re change, and life equals change. Without it, frankly, we are not living. But boy can one get stuck in the messy middle in a time of transition. It’s not just the earthshattering ones that are difficult….I find any transition hard….likely because when you are in that neutral zone–that trapeze moment when you are midair, letting go of one bar to grab another– it’s unsettling. You don’t know what’s ahead. You’re not where you’re headed yet, but oh my! You can’t go back either. Your book sounds wonderful….kind of like a safety net to assure confidence in the crossing over. Would love to read it. I have also journaled through my transitions to help me keep my sanity. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing and, Shelly, for sharing you!

    • Amy Young

      Lynn, what a wonderful, small world :). It’s a delight to see your name and comment. And your analogy is spot on–how unsettling transitions can be. And the exhilaration (maybe adrenaline rush that pushes us to keep moving?) of transitions, but all the unknowns. It really is the messy middle (wink!) 🙂

  7. shughes

    As I read this post, I can hear my stomach churning. I’m not hungry! I’ve begun a new chapter in my work world. I had wanted the next transition to be into a part time position but instead God has given me the opportunity to join an international Christian relief organization and my work load as increased incredibly. When God calls, we must go, even if it’s not what we had planned for

    • Amy Young

      Shughes, Wow, I can see why your stomach is churning . . . it sounds exciting and a bit overwhelming. I thankful you have a strong sense of God’s call and His presence!

  8. Penelope Swithinbank

    I wish, wish, wish this book had been available – not when we transitioned to the States when called to work in a big church there, but when we transitioned back to the UK after 6 enormously happy, fulfilling and fruitful years! Coming home was dreadful. And now comes another transition, from full time ministry to retirement. Not that clergy ever retire – more like re-tyre (which pun does not work with American English!) but still, it will be a big, even though exciting, transition. I’ve been told that one’s 60’s are the adolescence of old age. Woohoo – but think of all the adolescent difficulties too. Transitioning – exciting – adventurously – daunting – and sent by God.

    • Amy Young

      Penelope, ah yes, the transition TO something can be so much easier than the transition FROM something. On another blog, some wisely pointed out that so much more training and preparation goes into moving to a new job or calling, but when it’s time to leave, there is no where near the financial, emotional, and sadly, spiritual investment.

  9. Katha VD

    What a great book! You’re right, finishing well normally means retirement, but it is so much more. As a TCK who grew up in Uganda, South Africa and Germany I have had my share of transitions and have learned a lot from them. I recently started a new job and found that life itself is transition and we need to be aware of this to deal with it appropriately.
    For years I’ve been mentoring other TCKs in transitioning into Germany well and I’m sure this is a great resource!
    THANK YOU for writing boldly and blessings as you see the fruits of your writing work now!

    • Amy Young

      Katha, as a TCK, I bet you have already lived a life time of transitions :)!! I’m wondering if you were in Germany were you at Blackrock (I think that’s the name of the school … do you know what I’m talking about? I’m charming that way, I can confuse the conversation with only half the information :)). I truly do hope this book is useful to TCK’s too!

      • Katha VD

        The school is called Black Forest Academy :). No, I haven’t gone there since I am German having lived abroad. The academy is more for Americans and English speakers coming to live and serve in Germany. But many friends of mine have been there and hold fond memories of the place!

    • Shelly Miller

      Katha!! I picked you to win Amy’s book, Looming Transitions! Yay!! Congrats my friend.

      • Katha VD

        O wow, that is so great! Thanks, Shelly!

  10. Lisa

    Over here, see my hand waving in the air! Mentoring in a women’s ministry encompasses every life transition. Women are overwhelmed by the challenges that often multiply from a single trauma to many. I would love to read your book to share it and its wisdom with others.

    • Amy Young

      Hi Lisa, I’m waving back! Ah yes, these challenges during transitions seem to have babies as we sleep 🙂

  11. Nancy Ruegg

    I know Amy Young–imagine that! There you are, Shelly, thousands of miles away in London, and you know her, too. I met Amy at a writers’ retreat in Plain, Washington last fall. What a delightful, ever-smiling, caring, mature young woman. And her effervescent personality comes through loud and clear on her blog, too: The Messy Middle. Her book has to be just as delightful, just as wise as she is!

    • Amy Young

      I love seeing you here Nancy! It was equally a blessing and joy to meet you at that conference :)!!

  12. Nicole T. Walters

    I just came from breakfast with my friend who has left Nepal after staying through the earthquakes and is struggling mightily to finish well, to be fully here and to know what is next for her family. I would love to share this book with her.

    • Amy Young

      Nicole, first, what a blessing to your friend that you wanted to hear her story! I cannot emphasize enough how very much that gesture itself can help. It’s so much worse when it seems no one cares enough to hear. And yes, it sounds like your friend would be a prime candidate for this book :)!

  13. Jenna O

    I´m moving to different country to live there together with a man of my life. I lost almost everything I had last year and I´m really waiting for this year to make things better.

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