Bob Dylan had this phrase right. Change happens all around us and in us all the time. In our world and in our circles of people, things just don’t stay the same. It is already the month of May. Perhaps you are graduating soon or have kids leaving the nest. You may have several transitions going on in your life. Maybe you are moving, finding a new job, or even getting a new pet. You may be experiencing happy changes or excruciating losses. But certainly, the times, they are a-changin’.
A few months ago, for reasons I don’t really know, I decided to write Wyndham a letter telling him things that have happened since he left this earth. It felt healing. I began by sharing something more light-hearted, but as I began recounting the changes my mouth nearly dropped open, realizing just how much has happened. The letter was long and personal, so am only including some excerpts:
So much has happened since you left here. I miss you and think about you every day. I mainly feel deep gratitude because of the kind of man, husband, dad, and papa you were…and I got to be part of it and you as your best friend. Those last few years were so hard I know…traumatic in so many ways. But we did it with the help of God. You stayed grateful, courageous, cheerful, and faithful and amazed me with that. You were quite something and you still speak though you are gone. Now you are free and with God. I’m happy for you and so inspired by your life and death. But oh, how I miss you.
When change happens, even little things…happy and sad things….you are the one I want to tell. You are the one I want to decompress with. Pray with. Laugh with. Sometimes it takes my breath away to realize I can’t do this even though I’m happy for you. There has been a lot of crazy since you left. Go figure. So many transitions.
Very soon after…Tom Brady left the Patriots. I know you would be interested in that. He won a super bowl for Tampa Bay. The Pats and Red Sox stunk the next season, so you didn’t miss much there. They both got better though. He recently retired and unretired. Drama.
And, of all things, we had a global pandemic. For two years!! It was crazy. We couldn’t travel and had to meet virtually for church for nearly two years. Life shut down. Schools didn’t meet and people worked from home. Across the world, we were isolated. We wore masks everywhere until just a few weeks ago, over two years later. You probably have met a number of people who succumbed to Covid.
Your whole family loves you so deeply it can’t be expressed properly. Emma graduated, and began the Northeastern honors college of nursing. She wants to be a nurse practitioner and is currently studying in London. Lexi just got baptized, which was so exciting, and two others are studying the Bible. You would be so proud of all your grandchildren and of our kids..Oh, and I should tell you that Kevin and Melissa are now serving as lead evangelist and women’s ministry leader for the Boston church. So many changes. I’m sorry to tell you that your sister Jane died last February, and Aunt Emma passed a couple months ago. I feel sure you know these things, but it helps me to say them to you. Oh, and sadly, recently Russia invaded Ukraine and it’s ugly and so sad. We had some meaningful times there. Shawn updates in a prayer time every day.
Kind of a big personal change is that I retired. It was a hard decision but the right one. Oh, and I sold our house and moved to Connecticut near Kristen. Real estate has gone crazy. Kristen was my realtor. She’s a good one, no surprise there. The house I found is perfect for me. Amazingly, the house has a studio apartment in the back where Jacob lives. His was a hard transition, but he is doing ok. You would love it here across from the river. I get to walk along the Connecticut River daily with Denver, which he loves. The boats remind me of you. I know this was a good move for me. God has been good to me. I just started a small real estate rental business. Didn’t really plan on that, but the opportunity came. Crazy, I know.
Also, I graduated before I retired. I felt your smile. I’m now working hard on my doctorate and loving it, as you know. You’ll also be happy to know that “Paul’s Window” got published. Since then, I had the opportunity to do some virtual teaching in several states and countries and was able to spread some of your ashes in Europe while teaching in person. Your encouragement stays with me. I wrote a book about wisdom I learned from you called “Wednesdays with Wyndham.” I love the cover with you and Denver on the boat. Next was a book on caregiving. I guess life experience lessons are good to share.
I’m doing okay, as I told you I would, but I miss you every day. A lot. It makes me look forward even more to eternity. I don’t know what it will look like for us, but I know it will be special. I would love to feel your hugs and I so want you to know always how much I love you. You gave me the most amazing 45 years. Whenever I am tempted to feel really sad, I remember the incredible blessing you are in my life. I try to make you proud of me, but I know I don’t need to because you love me for me. I realize more than ever our team of equals was quite something special. Thanks for the way you made me feel so loved and respected. I’m trying to reflect Jesus as brightly as I know how…and also your legacy. I wish I could know what you are doing now. If you are resting or fellowshipping and what it is like to live outside the body. Are there fish there? It’s another dimension I will never grasp here. I know one day this will be, in your words, a mere blip on the screen. Until then. I love you forever.
The times, they are a-changin’. Certainly, all kinds of changes are often difficult, but I believe there are many things to consider to help us navigate them well. Some of these things I have learned the hard way, but most have been through the urgings and workings of God. For a while, I have been taking notes on the topic of transitions, studying scriptures, and reading books in preparation for writing this book. I now offer it with the prayer that it will minister to and encourage you.
The book has seven chapters. The introduction and chapters include: God Is in the Transitions; Transition and Identity; Mourning Transition; Walking Through Candyland; Preparing for Transition; Raise Your Ebenezer: Marking Transitions; Transitions that Overflow; Courage for the Next Steps; Conclusion; and Appendix: Who God Says We Are.
Each chapter is followed by a different person’s transition story— men and women who share their inspiring stories of finding God in transitions. Though their circumstances and ages vary, they all navigate their challenging transitions with honesty and faith. This book would not be the same without their valuable contributions. Thank you Hannah DeSouza, Angela Christoffel, Adam Birr, Judy McCreary, Chris Condon, Alexandra Ghoman, Erika Walton Sitzberger, Amber Effner, and Pam George.
After each chapter, I also include questions and practices for further reflection and application.
I’m including below the back cover copy, along with a few very kind blurbs from early readers. The book can now be pre-ordered. Thank you for all the encouragement you have shown me with my writing. It means a great deal to me and helps me keep going.
In What Now, God? Finding God in Transitions” Jeanie Shaw digs deep into our hearts and lives using biblical, personal, and contemporary examples while offering wisdom and practical advice for navigating transitions of all kinds. Exploring identity, core values, and transitional habits, she offers insights into both grieving and celebrating change. While vulnerably sharing her transition journeys, she leads us straight to the heart of God, reminding us that we are not alone. After each chapter, voices of men and women, both young and older, share ways they found God in uncertain, transitional times.
Wow, everyone please read this book. As a therapist, I am always looking for books that could be helpful for those I support. What I found was that I needed to read these pages myself. And what an inspiring read it was. Transitions can bring many hardships, hence the diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder is in the diagnostic manual. Jeanie has provided a scripture-filled, Holy Spirit-directed, practical hand up to navigate these kinds of challenging times. And she made me laugh! –Dr. Jennifer Konzen, therapist, author, researcher, professor
Jeanie does a phenomenal job of helping the reader understand that transitions are not only normal and inevitable, but also offer amazing opportunities to receive God’s love, comfort, and support. Grief is often the overlooked component of our spiritual formation, but Jeanie outlines the very intimate way that God can use our pain from transitions to form and mature us, if we are willing. By revealing the Holy Spirit’s invitation to deeper connection, this book most certainly helped me to look at transitions from a fresh perspective and embrace even the most painful transitions in life.—Curtis Reed, Oviedo, FL, Grief Recovery and Transition Coach
In this book, Jeanie has beautifully put into words what all of us have thought, felt, and experienced. She does an outstanding job of showing us how to not just let life happen to us, but instead to let life and its transitions make us into the men and women God wants us to become. This book encourages, instructs, inspires, and comforts. Thank you, Jeanie! —Geri Laing, author of A Life Worth Living, Raising Awesome Kids, and Friends and Lovers
In this wonderful book, Jeanie has invited us into her living room and shared her heart, mind, and soul with us. In doing so, she gifts us with the wisdom that comes only through experiencing heights of joy and depths of sorrow while living in the hands of our ineffable God. Her journey through transitions and the lessons she shares with the reader are life-giving.—Robert Correa, Los Angeles, CA, MDiv
An insightful and excellent writer, Jeanie invites us to walk with her through all kinds of transitions as she points us to the identity we can know in Christ when transitions tempt us to question those identities. I was encouraged, comforted, and challenged…but most of all grateful for the practical suggestions offered to help us prepare for and navigate through transitions. I’m better for having read this book.—Guillermo Adame, San Diego, CA, Financial consultant, elder, former missionary