10 Things to Tell Yourself During Transition {The Grove – Transition}

Here are some descriptions of a woman in the “transition phase” of giving birth. Ironically, I find it to be a pretty apt description of myself when I’m in the middle of a big life transition like… I don’t know, moving across the world.

“Emotionally, she can become restless, irritable, discouraged, and confused. She may find that she focuses inward… She may have a hard time communicating her wishes. This is the point when she usually needs the most support.” —Birthsource.com

“This is when things start getting intense… ‘I can’t do it anymore’ is a classic sign of transition.” –TheBump.com

Anyone else with me??

Times of transition are NOT my shining moments. I’ve moved across the world multiple times now. You’d think I’d be good at it, but you’d be wrong.

I can’t tell you how many times women in America have said to me, “I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you move back and forth across the world. I could never handle that.”

Yeah, you and me both, sister. I can’t handle it either.

But I’m about to do it again.

In six short weeks, my family and I are heading to the States for a slightly-sooner-than-expected-one-year home assignment.

Transition is upon us.

We’re excited about what’s ahead… on the other side of transition. The transition process itself feels much like torture. The packing and clearing out of our home, the goodbyes, the attempt at leaving well, the process of lining up life on the other side… It’s a lot.

My journal entry for this morning just may have said something like, “God, I don’t know how we are going to make it through these next weeks.”

Here’s what I’m telling myself through the transition phase. These are my “labor mantras” that I am repeating to myself, that I need others to repeat to me. Perhaps you need them for yourself for whatever transition you are facing, whether that’s moving overseas, moving back, or experiencing other transitions.

  1. Breathe and push forward. You will make it through this. Looking towards a big transition, even a good, exciting transition, I always think, “I can’t do this.” In the thick middle of a transition I think, “I cannot do this.” And then one day, I look around, surprised almost, and think, “Huh, I guess I did it.” You will get through this. Just do the next thing.
  1. Ask for help. Remember that part about needing the most support during transition? You can only push so much. Get the help you need.
  1. See how much you feel your need for God right now? You always need him desperately, but you don’t always feel that, do you? When you’re shifted out of your comfortable “I can handle this” life, that’s when you know your intense need for him. That’s a good thing.
  1. Transition = Transformation (even when it just feels like chaos). Through every single transition you’ve gone through, God has done a major work in your heart. He’s peeled back a layer of your soul and revealed a gem of truth about himself and about yourself. Those truths are your treasures, the pearls of transformation in your life. He has something for you in this transition. Look for the next pearl to add to your strand. It will be there.
  1. Your emotions are like concentrated lemonade. Transition heightens everything. Remember, a hard thing will taste extra sour right now because you’re in transition. Let that temper your reaction. And yes the sour is intense, but so is the sweet. Don’t miss the sweet joys, and don’t temper those. Live them fully, gulping them down.
  1. Stop and connect. Your connectedness to your loved ones and to God matters more than your to-do list. You know it does. You’ll make it on that plane.
  1. You can worry and fret about what’s around the corner or you can believe that he will be your enough. It’s really as simple as that. Brutiful, isn’t it? (Brutal + Beautiful).
  1. You will stumble and flop, and that’s okay. High intentions are just that, like a birth plan, you can have your ideals for how you will handle transition, but they are not the rulers of your soul. Your ability to meet those ideals is not the measure of your worth. His grace is sufficient…
  1. Transition, like birth, is the beginning of both joy and challenge. It won’t be all roses and rainbows on the other side of transition. So don’t set yourself up for that disappointment. But also cling hard to hope. God has his goodness waiting ahead of you.
  1. Take every fear and fret, every hope and dream, and turn it into a prayer. The mysterious gift of prayer is here for your strength and sustenance. And when your brain feels too foggy, that’s okay. He knows. Let his Spirit and the prayers of his people intercede for you.

That’s what we want to do today. We want to come together, lifting each of our transitions to him. I know I need it.

Will you pray for my spiritual needs, that these mantras will sink deep in my soul?

Will you pray for my physical needs, for his provision our housing, transportation, and furnishings?

Now how can we all pray for you? Share below. Let’s gather round each other and intercede with prayer comments.  

And which of these 10 things did you need to hear? What would you add to the list?  


This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.


  1. Anne Cowart May 14, 2015

    I loved everything but 2 especially – Brutiful is PERFECT and that I will stumble and flop and that’s okay.

    My husband and I are leaving Australia the end of May after 3 years heading back to Atlanta. Thank you for your prayers for our spiritual and physical needs (jobs, move, resettling, etc.)


    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      I love the word brutiful too!  I meant to link the word to Glennon Melton, the author that came up with the word.  It’s linked now.  If you haven’t read her book and blog, she’s amazing.

      Father, I lift up Anne and her husband.  Be the hand that holds them close and secure through all the change ahead.  Be their Constant, their Provider, their Always Enough.  Amen!

  2. Beth Everett May 14, 2015

    “Transition, like birth, is the beginning of both joy and challenge. It won’t be all roses and rainbows on the other side of transition. So don’t set yourself up for that disappointment. But also cling hard to hope. God has his goodness waiting ahead of you.”  Hoping, Trusting, Believing in this. Thanks!

    Having a hard time coming up with a succinct prayer request to share, there seem to be so many. Perhaps this, that through it all I will not miss the treasures, the pearls, as mentioned above. And that as a family we can find them together!

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      I’m right there with you on the “having a hard time coming up with a succinct prayer request” or succinct thoughts in general right now! 🙂  I call it “transition fog,” because yeah, there’s just so much.

      You’ve done such an amazing job processing your transition already, Beth.  I’m quite confident you won’t miss your pearls, and that you’ll be a great guide in helping your whole family find their’s.

      Jesus, for Beth and her family, we ask for your amazing grace to shine through the challenging moments of transition, revealing treasures of truth for each of them.  Amen.


  3. Heather May 14, 2015

    This is so good! My husband,  myself, and our four small children are packing up to move to South Africa in the fall.  However between now and then, there will be many moves in our RV as we finish raising our support. We actually pack up again tomorrow morning. This was just what I needed to hear. Thank you!!

    1. Amy May 15, 2015

      Good morning from ZA! We are right in the middle of our transition to South Africa. No matter where you will be or what you will be doing in the amazing country, God is already there and already has a plan for your support, your transition, and your life. Praying for you this morning from the Western Cape as I look at the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Blessings to you in your support raising!


    2. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      An RV to live in for support raising!  I love it!  But yeah, I’m sure the constant transition is a huge challenge, especially with four littles!  Praying heaps of transition grace and strength for you and your family.

  4. Trish May 14, 2015

     Stop and connect resonates with me. In just under three weeks, my husband and I will be making a two-month trip to the US to help my parents move out of their home where they’ve lived for 46 years. This transition of theirs has really hit me more than I would have thought. It is a big loss of family stability for us as their home is one of the two constants in our US lives. It’s also a sign that my parents are growing older and won’t always be there for us. The thought of sorting and packing and helping them move sounds overwhelming to me~ physically and emotionally exhausting. And add to this that my husband and I will be living with others and living out of a suitcase for those two months. So stop and connect daily with my sweetie and with God are things that I want to be intentional about in the days ahead. Thanks for your prayers.

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      Saying goodbye to a parents’ home is definitely a loss to grieve.  And yeah, exhausting on multiple levels!

      Jesus, I pray you would be Trish’s strength and sustenance, that she would find daily springs of life-giving connection with you and with her husband.  As they shoulder a huge task and feel the weight of grief and change, may they be reminded that they are yoked to you, that you are there to carry the burden with them.  Amen.

  5. Lisa Voth May 14, 2015

    This was so good. Thank you. I so affirm that it’s like concentrated lemonade! So sour but it sometimes blindsides you with sweetness.
    Praying for your transition.
    My transition prayer request is kind of weird–There are so many things pointing towards God having me here in the states working with international students instead of returning overseas. But I am having such a hard time severing ties with my M organization. It’s like the last nail in the coffin of “being an overseas worker.” I know it doesn’t have to be final. I just crave incontrovertible confirmation.

    Thanks so much for all of this!

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      I don’t find your prayer request weird at all, Lisa. 🙂  You’re in the midst of a big identity shift, which I think comes from the unfortunate labeling North Americans have,  that you’re only an “m” if you live across borders.

      Father, continue to guide Lisa.  Through these changes, may her identity grow more and more deeply rooted in you and in you alone.  May you give her the confirmation that her heart craves, or bolster her faith to take uncomfortable leaps.  Amen.

  6. Lucieluh May 15, 2015

    I woke up feeling grumpy, back ache, swollen ankles, another day of trying to sort out practicalities like vehicles, jobs, church, house sale.  Then a box makes my heart sink further its the gifts for my husbands 40th birthday that need wrapping for tomorrow.  A weekend of celebrations when your heart is heavy.

    then I open my email and just the first paragraph gives me that smile that God is speaking… To me.  A few weeks into returning to our passport country and less weeks before our next baby is born, she kicks as I read it.  With the fourth I know what lies ahead the joy, the work, that first moment when your heart is captured, those long nights when you just dont know how to keep going.  But we do, and I will.  I know in a few weeks I will smile again as the physical pains of labour remind me if this God whisper this morning that I can deliver this baby but for today I smile through the heart pains knowing God is with me and I can get through this time.

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      Lucieluh, it makes my heart sing to know that these words were God’s message to you.  You describe the birth process and after-math so perfectly.  It’s so true.  He will be with you, and you will make it through.  And I will think of you and your words when all of my practicalities for moving across the world are making me grumpy! 😉

  7. MaDonna May 15, 2015

    Your emotions are like concentrated lemonade.”

    This is so true. I’m not just finding it in myself, but some of the children that I teach at school who are also leaving for good in a few weeks. I like that you have reminded us we can also experience some real sweetness as well.

    Praying for your transition today.

    For me? We are still looking for a home and as of this week a new situation occurred that has caused a bit of stress. Asking for wisdom and courage. Thanks!

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      Yes, I have to think “lemonade, lemonade” when my kids are having a transition meltdown. 🙂  There is so much sweetness that comes during these times too, they’re just usually (for me and mine) not as loud as the sour moments. 😉

      And we’re still without a home too, so I know that stress.  So sorry you had a new and extra stress added on top.  Jesus, scoop out extra measures of wisdom and courage for MaDonna and her husband!  And we trust that you know the exact places where we will live, we’re just waiting for the reveal… Amen.


  8. T May 15, 2015

    Love this!!!  I will remember to do my birthing breathing when I’m starting to freak out!!!  Perfect analogy all the way thru the post!!!  Thanks!!!

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      Yes! Birthing breathing is incredibly helpful for freak outs!  😉

      Thanks for your sweet words, T.

  9. Michele Womble May 15, 2015

    I love your advice to “stop and connect.” – it’s so easy for me to get caught up in all the stuff that needs to be done – appreciate the idea that we’ll “make the plane” no matter what, but not to let the relationships go….

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      Yeah, the to-do list gets awfully loud and bossy come moving time, doesn’t it?!  But magically, if I take the time to connect, I end up more productive, because freak-outs aren’t taking up my time. 😉

  10. Elizabeth May 15, 2015

    “‘I can’t do it anymore!’ is a classic sign of transition.” YEP! In transitions of all kinds.

    “A hard thing will taste extra sour right now.” YEP! I wish it didn’t.

    Praying you survive this next stage of transition without too much bruising or labor trauma. I know you will survive — just praying for the least painful path through it!

    And hoping we can enjoy something sweet together when my family gets to the other side of the Pacific.


    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      Thanks for the prayers, Elizabeth!  Absolutely looking forward to some time with you in the Midwest!

  11. Jen May 15, 2015

    Thank you! Your words describe where I’m at in life as we’ve moved to a CA country w 4 kids and a new language to learn. After having lived 6 yrs in another country, we were forced to leave. It’s a great reminder and encouragement as I’ve been asking myself this week how I’ll ever make it. Thank you for the grace and challenge of your words.

    1. Danielle Wheeler May 15, 2015

      Wow, Jen.  Forced to leave and start over (and with four kids)… that’s a harsh transition if there ever was one.  May peace and hope and strength be yours today.

  12. Suzan May 15, 2015

    We’ve transistioned back to the States about 11 months ago and it has been a hard time on our marriage. I’m leaning on God and would appreciate prayers from women who have walked down this same road.

    1. Amy Young May 15, 2015

      Suzan, though I haven’t walked that exact path, I’m for you and your husband. I’m praying for you right now and as i look out the window, I asking God to bring new life and new hope to your marriage as I look at nature awakening after a period of dormancy. Just yesterday I was sharing that in John 3:16 when it says that no one may perish, but have everlasting life. Perishing doesn’t just refer to death, it can also refer to death of our hopes and dreams and hearts and marriages. God does not want your marriage to perish. He came that it may have life. So, God, we pray for Suzan and her husband. Bring life. Bring hope. Bring love. Amen

  13. Patty Stallings May 15, 2015

    Danielle, I love the birthing metaphor for transition.  So true. So very true.

  14. Monica F May 15, 2015

    I LOVED this post.  Thank you so much… these words really stood out to me:

    Through every single transition you’ve gone through, God has done a major work in your heart. He’s peeled back a layer of your soul and revealed a gem of truth about himself and about yourself. Those truths are your treasures, the pearls of transformation in your life. He has something for you in this transition. Look for the next pearl to add to your strand. It will be there.

    This brought me to tears.  I feel like my life has been one transition after another— I guess that’s probably true for most people- but overseas living has a way of intensifying transitions I think.  Please pray for me because our family finishes up our sabbatical year soon, and we are not going back to East Asia as originally planned.  We are staying on in the states for a few years so my husband can finish his PhD here instead of ‘on the field’.  So, this summer, we are going back to East Asia to ‘say goodbye’ to our team and local friends… it will be heartbreaking for all of us.  We know that even when we return to East Asia in the future, it won’t be in the small rural town where we’ve lived for the last several years.  This transition has been so incredibly hard for me, but I know that in one to two years down the road, I’ll be able to look back and understand why the Father kept us here in the States.  Another pearl on the strand.

  15. Kandis May 15, 2015

    Thank you so much for writing this. I just moved to Thailand in January, I’ve been back and forth before but this time with my Thai husband. We got married in Canada in August. I appreciated the point transition equals transformation. I’ve been fascinated with butterflies for a while like my picture. And it reminds me of the process of transformation. I cannot see it right now. I feel more shame and an aweful person sometimes in all of the heightened emotions. But thank you for the truth that there will be a pearl I can see one day. I will pray for your transition and I would appreciate prayer for our intercultural marriage and for lots of grace through it all. Thanks!

  16. Ashley Felder May 17, 2015

    Transition. Oh, how I remember it so clearly with all 3 kiddos. And just as clearly every time we hop the ocean. Love this analogy. Lord, bury it in my mind so I remember it! Love your words, friend.

    P.S. I couldn’t help but giggle when you were first making the analogy because when I describe labor transition to soon-to-be-mamas, I first tell them they’ll know they’ve hit it when they lose all modesty and don’t care who sees them naked. Um, let’s not make this cross over to life transitions. 😉

    1. Elizabeth May 17, 2015

      Laughing so hard Ashley, about the naked comment!

  17. Dawn May 20, 2015

    I was only overseas for six months with the intention of staying at least several years.  It didn’t work out and I came back to the States, back to no home and no job and a new community far from my loved ones.  I have been back for nearly a year and it has been a terrible transition.  I found a job but it didn’t work out either.  And now I’m searching for meaningful employment again. I’m hanging on to the belief I’m following God’s will for my life but it really doesn’t look like it! I’m constantly reminding myself I’ve not been abandoned but it feels like I’m living in an ocean of mistakes.  I’m still faithful and hopeful but struggling.  I appreciate all of you so much for sharing your experiences and words of encouragement. I can relate to a lot of what you have said and I’m thankful to know there are others who have victoriously faced these life issues.

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