Do You Love the Olympics? {Book Club}

Special announcement: you asked for it, you got it! People contacted me wondering how to help their kids through a looming transition and I didn’t have tangible answers for them. This spring I wrote a downloadable PDF with 22 activities for families preparing for a transition AND just this morning the final version was finished! Others wanted a workbook to be able to process through the material in Looming Transitions, but alas, one wasn’t available . . . until now! You are the first to hear that both are available in downloadable PDF’s. Each is only $5 because I want them in your hands and reasonably priced to give to family and friends.

Worbook covers for book club

I am going to say this once and only once. I will not start every book club post this month talking about how weird it is to be leading a discussion on: Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Servicea book I wrote.

I listened to an interview this week that Scott Hamilton gave. He shared what he felt as he stood on the podium after winning an Olympic gold medal. The excitement, fear, sadness, relief, guilt, joy, pride. All of it. Scott said he felt guilty because he was the one standing on the podium, when really it was so many people who had poured into the effort.

That struck a chord. I’m babbling and filling space in the post because I am still rather uncomfortable that we will discuss a book I wrote. So, let’s talk about Scott Hamilton. Okay? Do you love the Olympics? Anyone mapping their summer around them this year? As a child I was so inspired by the gymnasts, I sprained (and nearly broke) my arm doing a cartwheel off our piano bench. Real gymnasts, FYI, never do cartwheels off of high objects because raising an arm in the air and then diving off from a height and pointing that arm at the ground is like watching a bad physics experiment.

(I am uncomfortable for two reasons: 1) I wish you could meet the beta readers, the editors, the cover designer, and the formatter, all who poured into and I see their fingerprints all over. Publishing a book is a massive group project. 2) I financially benefit a tiny bit by us reading this book. I invested a lot of time, money, and effort in writing it, and I believe it is right to pay people for their labor. But in this life of service, we have an—at times—distorted relationship with money.)

But I am going to power through all the squishy feelings I have because I believe in the message of this book. Just last week I had lunch with a friend who had a co-worker recently retire. He was (is) beloved and there was nothing overly dramatic or interesting about his retirement except…

Except that transitions and finishing well is SO STINKING HARD and exhausting. She’s knee deep in the messes he (unintentionally) left—some unavoidable, yet many were avoidable. As I reflected on our conversation, I recommitted to the heart of the message woven throughout Looming Transitions. Whether you are the one with a transition or not, I bet you know someone who is transitioning because people coming and going is such a part of our lives.

In the introduction, I highlight the tension of this season and the desire to relieve the tension by either dying too soon or too late. When you are not living with the tension, do you tend to die too soon or too late? What helps you to stay with the tension? I don’t mean for these to be rhetorical questions :). Let’s share and learn from each other in the comments.

I write often about a fertile soul because I know how hard it is to not switch to auto-pilot at times of transition. The desire to keep my soul fertile, even when (especially when?) life is hard is a personal value. However, I don’t want these to be “just” pretty words or written on some beautiful images for Instagram or Facebook. You are the same. If you are drawn to Velvet Ashes, you are drawn to living an engaged life.

This is what I love and hate about an engaged life.

John 12:24 (NLT) says: I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.

Certain parts of life are a relief to die to. Sleep interrupted night with newborns? Not gonna cry a ton when that phase is done. Taking final exams? I didn’t really hate taking tests, but I didn’t really love it either. I don’t feel this huge ache in my soul now that I’m out of the taking-exams phase of life.

But parts of dying hurt like . . . someone is dying! Or a part of you is dying. What are you needing to die to in this season? Even if you are staying, this still can be a season where you need to die to something.

What does a fertile soul look like to you? What do you hope is said of you at the end of this season?

Since I did write a book on these ideas, I could go on and on :). In chapter two, what stood out to you about stress and how you or loved ones handle stress? What can you do this week as an act of gentleness to yourself?

Let’s talk in the comments. What’s your favorite Olympic sport? How have the Olympics inspired you to do something brave (or foolish)?


P.S. Next week we’ll discuss Chapters 3 and 4

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 


  1. Michele Womble May 9, 2016

    I can imagine that it would feel awkward to host your own book in a book club – but – I’m so glad you’re doing it! (And we all asked you to do it, if you remember.)   I think your book is oh-so-needed.  I wish it had been available already 20 years ago :-).

    Amy, I love how you said we WILL leave a wake – what kind of wake will we leave?

    In the first years of this century we were in the States for what was supposed to be a few months but turned into a couple years as we tried to get citizenship for our two toddlers (adopted).  We lived with my sister, who was not married and had room for us – and also, we all thought it would be a few months.  One day, over two years into this process, we opened the newspaper and the headlines were that all internationally adopted children received citizenship, in effect that day (Bush had signed a bill).  Suddenly, after years of waiting, the process was over and …we were leaving. I don’t remember exact dates but I think we were gone in 6 weeks.

    We did not leave well.

    In my defense, it was sudden.  I was not ready.  We had two toddlers and I was the sole packer until the last few days (I don’t remember why), which is not second nature to me, anyway, and with two toddlers it was almost impossible.  My sister offered to help – but I had no idea what she could do to help me…I had to make decisions about things that she couldn’t make for me – so basically I had to go through pack up over two years worth of accumulating papers and toddlery things – while mothering two toddlers and dealing with my own roller coaster of emotions – in 6 weeks.

    I laughed when you talked about the raptured apartment, because I’m sure that’s exactly what it was like for her (my sister).  As I’m thinking about it, I realize that it wasn’t entirely an issue of current reality vs. future reality but more my organizational skills (or lack of them) meets motherhood and sudden news of departure…although on the other hand…we’d been waiting for citizenship all that time, so I probably could have all along been taking some steps that would have helped when the moment came…but we didn’t have any kind of a plan.

    After we left, my sister had to go through things  – my things – that I had not gotten to (because, no, I didn’t finish) while she was dealing with her own grief.   (She found a LOT of change that we left behind, too, and said she figured that was her “tip”).

    We are currently in the States for an extended time again  – this time PLANNED – to “launch” those same two toddlers – uh, teens, now.  Kids.  We’ll probably be here 2-3 years – so we “left” Russia – although not permanently, but I think this time we left well. (Not perfectly, but well.)  I started going through things a year ahead of time, not every day, but steadily.  My friend Alyona moved into our flat – and besides the fact that our furniture and dishes and our cat were still there, we had successfully cleaned up, cleared out and made room for her – I don’t think she feels like we were raptured.  At the same time we were able to stay engaged pretty much up to the end, I think.

    The transition was still hard.  It always is.  But it makes such a difference to transition WELL.

    So – we’re learning.  but how nice to have a book that helps the learning curve to not be so steep!

    1. Amy Young May 10, 2016

      Michele, you bring up an excellent point—how much time/warning does one have before a big transition. Six weeks is VERY different from six to 12 months, or even more. Apples and oranges. 🙂 I LOVE the coin story. Those are the stories that are the glue, aren’t they? You know I love a good laugh 🙂

      1. Michele Womble May 11, 2016

        It actually turned out to be a significant amount of money, although I don’t remember right now how much.  🙂

  2. Michele Womble May 9, 2016

    On the other hand – I’m not sure how I’m doing on transitioning to here.  My daughter asked me the other day why I am still using my toothbrush, deoderant, etc. from my toiletries bag, rather than unpacking it and putting it in my (still empty) bathroom drawer.

    1. Amy Young May 10, 2016

      Michele, you are a natural born story teller!! Please write a poem about this. Pretty please? Pretty pretty please?

      1. Michele Womble May 11, 2016

        a poem about my toothbrush still being in my toiletries bag?!!! 🙂

        Hmmm – yeah – there might be something there.  Maybe if I write it I’ll understand better why I haven’t unpacked yet.

  3. Keri May 9, 2016


    I am glad you are hosting this book and thankful that you receive some financial reward for your hard work and thoughts.  I had an “Amy on the Shuttle Bus” moment but mine was “Keri in the Taiyuan Airport” moment.  As tears streamed down my face, in a land where I already stand out, it brought comfort to me knowing you have been in a similar situation.  VA is a forum to remind us we are not alone.  Your book is also doing this for many people.  I praise the father for his design for community and the fact that UNITY is in the word brings joy to my soul.  Blessings to you.  BTW:  Favorite Olympic Sport to watch is Swimming!

    1. Amy Young May 11, 2016

      Keri!!! See the picture I posted below. I think we should have a place to share our “awkward crying moments!” 🙂

      1. Keri May 11, 2016

        Amy and Michelle,

        Yes and Yes!  (photo journal of random tear filled places and next book)!

    2. Michele Womble May 11, 2016

      I agree, Keri.  I’m glad Amy gets some financial reward for the hard work and thoughts. And maybe that’ll help make the next book possible.  (Did you see that, Amy?  The next book…:-)   )

  4. M'Lynn May 9, 2016

    To answer your first question, oh man, oh man do I love the Olympics! And the photo graphic for this post makes me smile and want to stand up and cheer (but I’m @ Sbux so that may not be a good idea) I’m not sure if I tend to die to soon or too late in transition, but that whole ball balanced atop the tip of the present and future is such a helpful illustration shedding light on the tensions of finishing well. Even though I’m not currently in a season of a big transition, it’s helpful for me to think of others who are…we’ve been surrounded by people in big transitions…basically every day this past school year as transitions were not neatly tucked into August arrivals and June departures. I am coming up on the yearly transition to summer in Texas, so I decided to grab on to the “die at the right time” idea and ship the poinsettias I’ve been keeping alive since December off to a Chinese friend now. She was delighted to have them (even sent me photos of them in their new happy soil and pot) and I was happy to know they didn’t have to die by the trash because I didn’t plan ahead. Small things! Good things!

    The stress chapter is helpful whether in transition or not. Specifically “Expectations. Perceptions. Disappointment. Response.” All stuff I need to be analyzing and thinking about in my life right now. And the SWAT thing….and the “What Causes Stress.” I’ve got a good 8 of those  on the list of “Stress may result from anything that:” majorly right now all caused by stuff that’s taken place in the past three weeks. So this was timely and helpful for me. Oh…and the effects of stress (all of a sudden I have an eye twitch that came out of nowhere). Since I was reading this chapter at the time, I was able to step back and say…oh wow! I really am stressed. So stressed I have an all new non-voluntary response going on! And that whole apology section. Yep. needed that too. Amazing to me how God used the stuff I was reading in your book to help me right away! Praise Him for that!

    And thanks for being brave enough to do this book for Book Club 🙂

    1. Amy Young May 11, 2016

      M’Lynn :). I’d love to see you cheering in public! I also love how you teased out an important point: doing small things. I know I can sometimes get so wrapped up in the BIG things, I forget that often it is in the small things I practice muscles that help me with the big things 🙂

      Those stress reminders are so helpful, aren’t they! I forget how much stress is around me AND I forget to be gentle to myself. Good reminders for us all :)!

      1. Michele Womble May 11, 2016

        Like how you put that…“in the small things I practice muscles that help me with the big things”

    2. Michele Womble May 11, 2016

      M’Lynn, I appreciate the reminder that even if we are not ourselves in a transition at the moment, we can be mindful of the people who ARE…and not be offended if we see them withdrawing or (or if they appear to have been raptured) – but also maybe come alongside and help them transition (before they withdraw or are raptured 🙂  ) – so I’m being a little funny about it, but seriously, I think it does really help to understand why someone else’s “wake” is having this (whatever it is) affect on us –

  5. Elizabeth May 9, 2016

    What does a fertile soul look like? Uh, it doesn’t look like mine right now. I’m currently realizing that I way-over-committed myself outside the home for the last 2 months and my soul is suffering — along with my body, which is too tired and hot to exercise (a real sanity saver) and which is not getting enough sleep because the power keeps going out at night (and day), consequently giving me headaches. I have to figure out how to take care of my body and my soul in this heat, because both are withering, and I still have to teach home school, and on top of that this week my husband is out of town.

    So yeah, I’m not really ok right now, and have been telling this to my closest friends for a few weeks now. Been working with my husband too, who is coaching me through making better decisions about my time and true priorities. But I’m just not there yet.

    And I do miss my fertile soul — oh how I miss it! — so I’m on a quest to find it again.

    1. Meegs May 10, 2016

      GIRL!  This resonated with me… our circumstances are different, but the commentary you provided is the same.  I threw my son’s bottle across the room last night because he cried all afternoon (teething), I was single momming it (hubby at work), had pile of things to grade (I teach high school), and I am so OVER THIS SEASON.  We are a month away from selling off the rest of the stuff we own to head out on this crazy journey overseas.

      I miss the fertile soul too!  I miss it BIG TIME.  I’m sick of being the crazy mom that yells and throws stuff… like who is this chick?

      But Amy was right in Chapter 1… we can’t quit and go autopilot until it all gets better…. it doesn’t necessarily get better right? It just gets different.

      Hang in there Mama!!  BTW I wanted to pass along this link that teaches how to pray through the Bible… it’s helping put some fertilizer on the crapola this season

      1. Elizabeth May 10, 2016

        Thanks for the link Meegs — and the solidarity! And let me just say, you will get through this last month too!!

      2. Amy Young May 11, 2016

        It will get different. 

        Those are words that will preach!

    2. Amy Young May 11, 2016

      The phrase “fertile soul” has been rooted in me since I read it. As I read your comment, Elizabeth, I’m reminded that fertile souls and fertile soils may have seasons to them and they do take tending. In gardening the last few years, I have found from one day to the next I don’t notice much difference and I can get frustrated at the lack of change, but when I swtich my thinking to seasonal, wow, there really has been transformation in the past few years. While I want you (selfishly) to “feel better” in the immediate, that might not be likely. But in the next few weeks, I do believe it is possible. Praying for fertility :)! Ha!

      1. Michele Womble May 11, 2016

        I like the phrase fertile soul, too. When you (Amy) mentioned seasons and tending, and seeing transformation across the seasons (rather than day to day) I started thinking about what a garden looks like right after the harvest is over.  And in the days following.  Not that I’ve ever had a garden (lived in the city for the last 20 years) but I imagine it looks sort of bare and used up and spent?  So it sort of doesn’t look like much, and yet there was just a harvest that may have even been incredible…(I’m imagining a row of potatoes after all the potatoes are dug up)… So looking at one day or week or even over a several month period – you have to always keep in mind what season you’re in, and not be disappointed that there aren’t tomatoes every day and think the garden is a failure.  After a harvest, the soil (soul) needs to rest a bit before replanting.  But it’s still good soil!!


    3. Michele Womble May 11, 2016

      So sorry you are worn out, Elizabeth!  Have you been able to cut back, or are you over committed in a way that you can’t bow out of? (so I know how to pray).

      1. Elizabeth May 11, 2016

        Excellent question Michele 🙂 I hate to admit this, because my heart is in all these things, but I overcommitted myself to outside ministry the last couple months. Such great opportunities!! Women’s ministry and youth ministry — my fave ministries! But committing to events outside the house means both being at the event on a weekend (stealing time from family and myself) and lots of prep time (stealing time from my “normal” inside-the-house ministry time of writing).

        So. My soul has suffered from overcommitment and also from the lack of sleep in this heat (which I already mentioned). And it’s so hot here that I almost can’t even bear to go to my regular prayer room: my bright and spacious living room with all my books, Bibles, and journals, the sunny morning place I meet God. It’s just unbearably hot, and I’ve neglected my quiet times. (My bedroom has air conditioning but very little natural light, only fluorescent light, and that just isn’t conducive for me and God, though perhaps I just need to get more flexible.) And the more I neglect them, the farther I feel from God, and the less motivation I have to start up again. Because I don’t deserve to talk to a God whom I’ve neglected. Or something like that. It’s a vicious cycle — and one I feel even worse about because I’m the “meet with God even for short times because it will change your life!” girl.

        Ok, so those are all the things. To answer the question, I have been having hard discussions with my husband (whose job is in pastoral counseling) about what my priorities are and what to quit. I’ve got to be more focused, because I was spreading myself so thin. And that kills me, because I love all these opportunities for ministry that I’ve been given. But I also already have a full time job in homeschooling. I wouldn’t think very well of a working mom who came home from her job and then . . . worked some more. But that’s what I do. I teach all day, then try to write or do other ministry at night. Not all the time, mind you, but it was a habit I was falling in to because of overcommitment. Is this making sense?

        So I have to be careful about what I say yes to in future. And I’ve been not pushing myself to write, but only to recover. I’ve been “being gentle with myself,” especially with this heat and the power cuts (but I did see a truck fixing a box outside our house two days ago, and we’ve only had short cuts since then, not all night ones, so here’s hoping for improvement in that area!). I’ve been remembering that relationship is what’s important in homeschooling. I’ve been ignoring the anal, high-achieving academic part of myself, and trying to focus just on the basics, plus some fun and read alouds.

        But here is the most important part: I started asking people for prayer and confiding my struggles to other moms. And almost immediately I saw results in my mind and heart. Other moms assured me I wasn’t the only one with these warring desires (1. academics 2. enjoyable relationships 3. alone time for mommy so she doesn’t lose her mind). And they assured me character is most important — one of the only areas of homeschool that I actually feel like we’re seeing some success in. (Ok that’s not completely true, some of our academics are just fine, but some subjects are struggles, so all I can see when I think about academics are the struggles, not the successes.) And other moms said they can barely handle the heat right now too and they are trying to balance all those things too. And my dearest friends and family in the States (we have a very small FB group of that — like, 10 praying people) are praying for me specifically for these things. They are the people I can be brutally honest with. Plus I asked a few moms from my org to pray. Really seriously that’s all I needed to do??? WHY didn’t I ask before??

        So thank you for asking, and thank you for praying 🙂

        1. Elizabeth May 11, 2016

          Because I know the truth that my soul has to be fertile if I want to give to others through any kind of ministry. If my soul isn’t ok, my ministry, my writing, and my relationships are dry, too. So it’s not like stepping back is a choice — it’s a necessity!

  6. Jenilee May 10, 2016

    What an incredibly needed resource you have written and I’m so glad you have the courage to talk about it here. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    Running literally got me through that season. Learning to run, to persevere, to challenge myself, to work harder than ever before… learning to run helped me learn to transition. The question asked in the graphic above is taught on the field, on the track, on the trail… how do you stay in the tension? And it isn’t a question that anyone else can answer for you. Only Jesus can help you through, help you finish the race.

    1. Amy Young May 11, 2016

      Yes!! That’s what so amazingly encouraging and frustrating … there isn’t one way to stay in the tension, there are many. But Jesus knows you (whomever) and will help personalize it. 

      I wish I could say running helped me do anything but think self absorbed thoughts on how miserable I am when I run 🙂

  7. Hadassah May 10, 2016

    Our campus is very transitory, so I am always looking for material that will help our one-year volunteers transition well onto the field and back to their homes.  When I heard about your book, I immediately had it sent over, in hopes that this would be a resource that I could draw on.  And, now, you have a workbook to go with it!  I can’t wait to use it at the beginning of next school year with our newbies, and I’m already drawing from your book to help those who are leaving at the end of this year finish well.  Thank you for sharing!  And thank you for being will to step out of your comfort zone and use this as a forum for us to pick your brain about what you wrote.

    For me, John Donne’s quote was what really stuck with me, about how no (wo)man is an island.  I think I’ve struggled with this all my life, in that when I am stressed, those closest to me suffer.  I remember my roommate in college telling me she knew when I wasn’t “present” because I had my busy face on.  Now that I’m married and have children, keeping that stress from spilling over into my actions towards my family is not always easy and many times messy.  I really appreciate the formula you gave (I’m a math teacher) for what to do when we have crossed the line.  I will be implementing this with my family the next time things get hairy (which might even be today considering we have about a month left of school, and that month includes a trip to another country in two weeks, graduation and closing out the school year, and then a transition to summer in the States).

    But at the same time, when my husband is stressed I feel it, and tend to carry a lot of his stress, as well.  It’s not that I feel responsible or anything…it’s almost sympathy taken too far, and lately my body has been feeling the effects of both his and my stress.  I’m tired all the time and have dark circles under my eyes even though I exercise and sleep well every night.  So, I’m working (again) on setting better boundaries…but, if anyone has any suggestions on how I can be sympathetic without taking it on, I’m open.

    1. Amy Young May 11, 2016

      Hadassah, I just did a google search on “overactive empahty” (as it turns out the internet calls is). And unfortunately I didn’t find anything from a Christian perspective. This two-part series has reasonable stuff if you ignore the chakra parts and assume (which I do) that you can center/calm yourself by asking the HS to help you. 



      Now I want to think about these from a Christian perspecitve and write about them :). Just yesterday someone close to me was dealing with this too . . . so it’s been on my mind. She’s is wired to pick up (and take on) other’s suffering in ways that are good, but can go too far and be not-so-good. 

      If you look at those articles, what nuggets of truth helped you?

      1. Hadassah May 12, 2016

        I read through the articles and, like you, I’m very interested in figuring out how to use her stuff but through a Christian lens.  I’ll be looking at that during my quiet time with God and asking Him to speak to me His truth in light of this.  And, once I’ve worked on this some more, we can share/compare notes.  That would be great! I did however find myself in one of her descriptions of empaths:  I’m the co-dependent one.  Wow!  Almost exactly!  So, I’m also going to explore that and see if Google has some other good articles for help there.  Thanks for taking the time to look this up for me!

  8. Hadassah May 10, 2016

    OH…I forgot to add that I really appreciate the Brene Brown quote someone mentioned the other day about how you can’t numb the bad without numbing the good.  This is how people close to me have dealt with stress before, and I’m praying for a good time to share this with them.  Which book is this out of?

    1. Emily Smith May 10, 2016

      I just read it in The Gifts of Imperfection though I’m guessing it isn’t the only book she says that. I love that quote and concept, too.

      1. Hadassah May 12, 2016

        Just bought the book.  Started listening to it today.  Love her candor and humor:)

  9. Emily Smith May 10, 2016

    First. I love the Olympics. I will watch just about anything. Track and swimming are definitely up there along with gymnastics. (Though with Romania not sending a team this year, it does change the level of competing emotions involved)

    My tendency is to die to early. Trying to keep my heart open until the end is hard. I had to put a big calendar on my wall. I actually scheduled in days where I would pack up dishes or take pictures off the walls and I didn’t allow myself to do it more than one day early. This kept me from living in a bare apartment for the last two months. Having one large central calendar also helped me keep scheduling events with friends. I knew I had the time.

    I have watched enough situations that resembled the rapture…I was afraid I would do the same. I had to keep reminding myself it was okay to ask for help. Six weeks before I left my apartment SHOULD look lived in. Having someone help me sort through stuff at that point wasn’t the same as if it were six hours before I was leaving. That tension was tricky. I probably could have asked for more help than I did. I didn’t leave perfectly…but I can say I left well. (this is no small miracle)

    1. Amy Young May 11, 2016

      Track, Swimming, Gymnastics. I think you’ve summed up what I will be watching for two weeks :). 

      After living in the raptured apartment, you can imagine my fear of leaving one. So, imagine my delight when I moved out and was told, “No one has ever left an apartment this clean.” Also imagine the over-correction that may have gone a bit too far! HAHAH. We are all works in progress, eh?!

      You hit the goal! Well. Perfect doesnt’ exist 🙂

      1. Elizabeth May 11, 2016

        I have a “too-clean apartment” story too — getting out of campus housing at the end of college, I wanted my entire month-rent deposit back. So my mom helped me clean and clean and clean, because she was an Army wife, and the standards for clean quarters in the Army are super high. Then the lady walked in the door and said, “I’ve never seen an apartment this clean” and we thought, maybe we didn’t have to clean quite so well!

  10. Amy Young May 10, 2016

    I just finished reading through the comments up to now and it was so lovely hearing each of you chime in and share a bit of your history or where you are now. I teared up a few times and—THIS IS A RIOT given the chapter we are discussing—I’m in a different library than I’m usually at so I’m sharing a table with a stranger. A man. And I have decidedly looked away several times in hope he doesn’t know I’m crying :). We are at a seminary, so hopefully he has a pastoral heart (regardless of his major). Here, I’ll try and get a picture of us.

    Um, yeah, I was subtle, I don’t think he noticed :)!! So, that’s my stack of stuff. I thought if I started staging it, he’d be on to me. Sorry my stuff is so huge.

  11. Kiera May 11, 2016

    I am very glad that we are doing this book. Even though I’m not in transition myself, there have been so many moments so far where I am just saying, “Yes!” in that “I know what you are talking about” kind of way. Thank goodness I have never seen an apartment as bad as the potato in the bed, but I have seen way too much stuff left behind that someone (me) gets to lug out to the trash can.

    I love your graphic of the ball atop the triangle, wanting to roll one way or the other. It is perfect to describe even the tension I feel with summer coming and just wanting to roll into it and take off now instead of powering through the last few weeks. It makes me think that maybe that will be my tendency when the time comes to actually make a transition. When I think of living with the tension, I think of the many times I have known a friend was leaving and fighting the temptation to pull away from the relationship. It’s always hard, but it’s sweeter in the end.

    Keeping a fertile soul is so hard. I feel like I am constantly trying to check if I am putting walls up since I know departures don’t affect me the way they used to. I do feel tired of the cycle. I do feel like it is a struggle to engage emotionally with new people. I think at the moment the best thing I have going for me is that I still want to keep a fertile soul. Which is at least better than not caring at all.

    Oh, and how culturally dis-engaged am I? I didn’t even know that the Olympics were happening this summer. Maybe I’ll get to see some gymnastics when I am back in the U.S. and Canada. 🙂

    1. Amy Young May 11, 2016

      Culturally disengaged? Or wise? :). You be the judge (speaking of cultural references. I think I’ve just dated myself!)

      And I think you are right, part of taking care of our soul might mean putting up a few walls. Sometimes it is tearing them down. Sometimes what we do won’t make sense to others, sometimes it will. Oh my word, I’m babbling. Sorry. Just your comment got me thinking about the times when what was best / needed was me to invest and other times it was what appeared to be the opposite — and I pulled back.

      Good reminder these principles aren’t formulas, instead they need to be fleshed out in real, live situations. Thanks Kiera!

  12. Spring May 11, 2016

    This book struck a chord with me.  Really I should have started about 2 months ago, regardless we are leaving a year internship to return to the states and raise money for a 2 year term. We also hope to do language study, planning to return in a year’s time. It looks like it will be a year of transition.  We are transitioning out of a difficult situation with our teammate and I’m struggling with what having “fertile soil” looks like in the midst of this.

    I can’t pretend it’s something that it’s not.  It is causing me anxiety about our next steps and our next teammates.

    I really appreciated the second chapter about stress. I plan on sitting down with my husband and going over our expectations. So much of our next steps are unknown, but I want our children to feel safe, and to help them (and us) recognize where we experience stress.

    As far as the olympics, we really haven’t had a TV most of our 16 years of marriage.  I always get excitement about watching them but don’t take the time to! Perhaps I should.

    1. Amy Young May 11, 2016

      Okay, so I won’t tell you about when I was addicted to the Olympics in college or how I chose not to be in Beijing for them so I could watch more on the TV, in the US! :). Ugh. and Smile! 

      On to issues of more substance!! Great questions, what does a fertile soul look like in the midst of a stressful and difficult setting? Honestly, I think it looks like a lot more gentleness than we realize. Being gentle with ourselves, in acknowlegment of how hard it is. I also think it involves looking for seeds of bitterness so that they don’t get planted and grow. Easier said, than done. But still worth the time. I also think it involves saying our fears out loud (maybe just to ourselves). I can see why having future teammates is risky! Because . . . it is risky! But if you tell yourself, “Don’t worry, God will provide” I don’t think that honors your soul and what it knows to be true. Instead something like “I am afraid for future team relations. BUT I know it is important so I want to invite close friends to pray honestly for me and I want be the kind of person who can still take risks.”

      Glad this chapter will be of use in chatting with your husband about expectations. Go God!

  13. Jodie May 14, 2016

    I’m really enjoying this book and all of the comments too! What stood out to me the most was the illustration of play dough and what shade of green we become. It helped me to see that our family has various shades of green and that’s a good thing. As I’ve been appreciating this transition year for my daughter to be able to finish her last year of high school in the States and have been so thankful for her smooth adjustment, I was a bit surprised when she said, “Have we really been in the States almost a year? I keep telling people we’ve been here for 6 months. Being in the U.S. for a year just seems wrong.” And we laughed but it was a helpful insight into my white on the outside-Asian on the inside daughter who really still misses China even though she doesn’t talk about it that much.

  14. Anna May 16, 2016

    I don’t get as into the Olympics as some people, but I do enjoy them.  I like the gymnastics and figure skating the best.  What I really like is hearing the stories of the athletes.  Their backgrounds, experiences, motivations, etc.

    I’m glad you pushed through the awkwardness you felt at hosting your own book for book club.  I’ve been enjoying it.  We are currently starting in a new place, but I had it in the midst of transitioning and arriving.  I have accepted that all of our life overseas is going to be transitional.  When we are staying put, others are coming and going.

    Our first time transitioning back for a year to the US went pretty smoothly.  It helped that we had been in Africa for over 3 years at that point, and had been able to watch various people do transitions, and make notes of what to do and not do.  We also had some experienced people giving us advice along the way about what to expect.  We extended our time that we were going to leave (the deadline slowly moved from one June to Feb of the next year).  That gave us lots of time to work through those things.  We knew it was going to be hard to slowly back out of things. (We were living on a hospital compound, and you can’t just be uninvolved.)  We were able to leave the town where we stayed and have almost two weeks in the capital, then go to a conference, then back to the US.  I think that is what helped us with the tension between going and staying.  We couldn’t do it well in our house and setting, but we were able to give ourselves geographic space and some time to process.

    Leaving the US after that to go back to Congo seemed like less of a transition.  We had been on an extended trip and we were returning “home.”  We traveled so much in the US, that it wasn’t really home.  The next time leaving Congo was harder due to circumstances beyond our control.  What helped us was again being able to have some time and space to cushion the leaving our town and landing in the US.  While still at work, we really focused on what was good for those we were leaving- preparing them as much as possible, while not doing as well to prepare ourselves.  But we knew we would have the time, and we let those in the US know that we would have a recovery/rest time before starting anything.  That seemed to work.

    What I really learned in that second transition is how differently members of the same family can handle the transition.  We each needed to process things a little differently, and we had to give each other grace in that process.

    I feel like I could go on and on about it, but I will stop there. 🙂  On the subject of a fertile soul, I will add that it takes constant tending.  There are times that feel more fertile than other, and I have to keep doing the “tending.”  For me, the quiet things are the ones that slip.  Time for meditating, prayer, listening.  It’s too easy to get task oriented and work through a checklist, but I can tell the difference in my spirit when I haven’t been quiet.

  15. Joanna @ May 18, 2016

    Can’t believe I missed Week 1. I’m just catching up! So thrilled you’re doing Book Club on your book, Amy. We are in the very middle of transition. Moving back to UK in 6 weeks time. Packing 7 years into 6 suitcases (at least trying to – I’m sure we’ll end up paying extra). Trying to leave our apartment nice for the next occupants. I remember arriving and taking two years to sift through someone else’s junk of 20 years, so I HUGELY identify with your raptured apartment story. We were on the worst end of it. Just hoping and praying that our house we’re going back to in UK is left in a decent state by our tenants. Can’t face another clean-up. I love that you’ve written accompanying books to ‘Looming Transitions’. I’m hopping over to buy the one for families right now! Thanks Amy.

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