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.
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 Service, a 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
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