Looming Transitions In Life {and a giveaway!}

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, a labor of love by me, 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 suitthe 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.


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


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 the idea of Self Talking the Gospel, 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.”


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.

As a resource during transitions, I’ve created graphics you can use for blogs, newsletters, and social media.

51snpZbzmkL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_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 on Facebook. Be sure to LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE to see if you’ve won!






Did you like today’s post? Be sure to subscribe to our email list and for a limited time, receive our FREE eBook Overcoming the Darkness, as our thanks to you!

Image Credit: Jonathan Emmanuel Flores Tarello, Creative Commons

Amy Young


Amy Young is readjusting to messy middle of life in the US after more than twenty years in China and the recent death of her dad. When she first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words really needed in life. She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at and tweets as @amyinbj and is the most unbeautiful pinner Pinterest has ever seen (but she's having fun!).

  • Steven Bell

    4 years ago we transitioned from teaching in Tianjin, China. I thought about some help for others returning home since put organization did a lousy job of prepping us. Third Culture Kids by
    Since then it has been a transition from school administration to teaching (by my choice) and now transitioning to care giver for my wife.
    Thank you for the story. It has reminded me once again that I must let certain things die in order to make room for the new things God has planned.
    Incidentally, my word for this year is change. I suppose “transition” works just as well.

    Steve Bell
    Clovis, CA

    • Amy Young

      Steve, Tianjin! I bet we know some of the same people :). I’m very sorry to hear that your organization did a lousy job . . . but sadly I’m not surprised. I went to MTI’s Debriefing and Renewal because I knew it was important, like you, my org didn’t handle or support the transition well — I’d been with them 20 years, held many staff positions, and didn’t even get a phone call :). 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. Blessings on you as you care for your wife. After I got back from China I was, in part, helping to care for my dad who ended up dying 8 months after I returned. Change and transition do go hand in hand, don’t they :)

      • Steven Bell

        Thanks for the reply. I just realized I didn’t get the authors name for Third Culture Kids. It was actually by two people: David C. Pollock and Ruth Van Reken.

        Sounds like you were in Tianjin as well. What a marvelous city and people!


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