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.