I got a lot of books for christmas this year........I put a lot on my list.

Looking through the titles could give any stranger a good insight into the characteristics of our lives as we know it. Titles include, but not limited to- "Third Culture Kids", "Into these Hands: Wisdom from Midwives", and "Everything you need to know to start a non-profit". Many of them will be read in the coming months, but there is one that I chose to start now and it is fantastic.

For those of you who poo poo non fiction, warning, you might find this boring...... It's a book called "STUCK!". A small, unasuming title and the picture on the front cover is a bit drab (goldfish swimming in a fishbowl), but don't let that fool you. The contents are priceless.

It's about transitions. Navigating these awkard periods of our lives in which we are no longer where we used to be but not yet where we are going. Those periods when you feel like your life is going through puberty? You change a job, you move, you are waiting for something to take place, you can't hear God, you feel a bit purposeless and somehow everything in life seems complicated and a bit overwhelming. You're asking yourself, what happened? How did I get to a place that I'm wondering where I'm going? I thought I knew where I was going?

"Transitions are characterized by a prolonged period of restlessness, self-doubt, lack of motivation, job stagnation, diminshed confidence, lack of direction and perhaps distance from God, isolation, relational conflict and tension, lack of effectiveness and struggle to stay focused and motivated.....In transitions, individuals consolidate past learning, process issues of character, deepen convictions and values, and are prepared for the next phase of their development. Transitions bring closure to the past in order to move forward to the future"

The author speaks such clarity into the hard characteristic of these times in our lives, while giving the reader a peace in the tension of the now and the not yet. He defines transitional periods like I've never heard before, yet everything he is saying is like I've known you intuitively recognize these truths but haven't been able to put them into words, until now.

It is giving me definition to the season we find ourselves in. It is also infusing purpose and passion into embracing these difficult periods because they are, in fact, the periods of time that can shape us the most. It's a time when we are recounting our past and hoping for our future. Transitions have the potential to shape our inner most beings, if we allow it. If we work with the flow of what is being squeezed out of us, with what is being infused in us, and with what is being layed before us.

"Transitions often include challenges to ones presuppositions, disturb plateaus in growth, surface the need for education and training, and create an internal restlessness for a deeper journey with God....Life often becomes too planned and ordered. God intervenes and the different begins to happen. Somewhere different becomes the destination, and something different becomes the desired end result. Different is often born out of the transition moments in one's journey."

There is a stage in a woman's labor that is called transition. It is the time when the baby is making his final decent and her body is creating powerful surges to assist him. Any woman will tell you that during this time, she is unable to discern that she is almost done, that her baby is about to be in her arms. In fact, she feels confused as every ounce of her being is working to birth her child. She is no longer the pregnant woman whe was a few hours ago yet she is not yet the mother she will become. She is in the transition of change. Soon she will be able to look back and see where she was while rejoicing in where she has come to. She cannot become the mother until she has gone through this intense period. But when she does, she is changed inside out. She has brought closure to one period of her life and has entered into another.

Much like that, life transitions have the same potential to change us. They are powerful and without it, life would not be brought forth.

Now, I digress.....

Just to make sure I didn't get you all too caught up in the deep parts of life this holiday season, I'll mention that I also bought a book called "Stuff Christians Like" ......if you haven't heard of it, you should check it out. But do so only if you like sarcastic social commentary. You gotta be able to laugh at yourself sometimes. :)

Happy New Year from our family to yours!