Trees of Transition

Comfort for people going through life transitions by sharing thoughts, photos, cards, and recipes.


Two and a Half Years after My Article: “My Younger Sister is Getting Married, and I’m Still Single”

Is it harder for older sisters to get married? Yes, I think it is. Birth order does matter; older children just have different pressures and experiences than their younger siblings, and this can influence their love lives. Especially this holiday season I’ve seen more Google searches that lead older sisters to my article “My Younger Sister is Getting Married, and I’m Still Single” that I wrote two and a half years ago; now it is time to follow up that piece. What has happened with my love life? What have I learned since then?


Life updates: My love life has blossomed since I wrote that article, and I am now married to a wonderful man named Stephen (you can see engagement photos here: Our Silly Engagement Photos ). My younger sister is still ahead of me by becoming a mother to a wonderful little guy and having another one on the way. I had to practice what I wrote again when my younger brother got engaged before me too, but I still got married before him, so I wasn’t the last child in our family to get married. Some lessons I’ve realized about how to help love grow include learning to relax, trusting God’s timing, and being willing to risk love.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Smoking: I Hate What It Does to People

You’ve seen it: A cigarette dangling from a lady’s slender fingers, as the smoke spirals up above her head; these images have a seductive pull to them, but they are deadly. I love a lot of people who smoke, but I hate what that nicotine-filled smoke does to them. Smoking killed my brother-in-law.

My brother-in-law, Don, created intricate, graceful pieces of furniture for people who desired custom-built furniture. His creativity came out through creating his fine furniture, drawing, and what he talked about. 

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Roses, Donuts, and Dances

Wedding Lessons: Helpful Things to Know

Last week my sister married her best friend Danny!
Here’s some helpful and fun things that I learned from helping with my sister’s wedding:

-Ruth gave all of her bridesmaids a soft pink robe to wear as we were getting ready for the ceremony. It made us all feel special and beautiful. The dresses she had us pick from also looked great on all of us; a dusty mauve and we got to pick styles that fit us :).

-Make sure your parents get to the church! When we came down from our hotel room, my parents had missed the shuttle, so we all crowded into the limo, and we all made it to the church in time.

-At the ceremony in the church, just seeing how joyful and happy Ruth and Danny were made me beam! The Ave Maria made me tear up.

-Fresh flowers are worth the money. My sister chose roses, and their fragrance added to the beauty of the day.

-Donuts instead of wedding cake is a fun change of pace. My sister got The Donut Vault to drive their old-fashioned donut truck to the venue to serve amazing, moist cake donuts! Triple chocolate, chestnut, and wedding cake were among the options. My sister had two for everyone, and there were a lot left over.

-Live music and dancing added to the night. Danny and Ruth’s dance lessons paid off because they looked like they knew what they were doing. They are a handsome couple.

-Having over a year to plan gave my sister time to plan a gorgeous wedding. It also gave us time to get closer, so I’m thankful they took so long.

Congratulations, Ruth and Danny!


Leave a comment

Two Lives Intertwining

Two lives intertwining.
Weaving families into
Supportive cloth around a whole new tribe.
Country roots mixed with suburban beginnings growing into a city family.
Big eyes and gorgeous smiles.
Kindness, creativity, generosity, joy, and much love.
Beginning as barista and customer,
Then becoming friend to friend,
Maturing into Paris love and engagement.
Today, Irish marriage awaits at the alter, followed by French food, and an Italian honeymoon is Venice.
Happy Wedding Day, Ruth and Danny!


Leave a comment

Advantages of Your Younger Sister Getting Married Before You!

1. You are free to focus on, serve, and help your sister without neglecting a husband and kids.

2. You can learn lots about wedding planning, so that you can do it well when your turn comes. (For example, create a bridal emergency kit to take to the wedding!)

3. You get to develop your style more and figure out what bridal gowns you love, while encouraging and helping your sister.

4. You are not the one all stressed out!

5. You get to throw a personal, relaxing bachelorette party. (I had fun sewing her a bridal vail for her to wear!)

6. You get to pray for your sister, and give a thoughtful, maybe tearful toast at the wedding.

7. You get to be proud of your sister for figuring out this dating thing, getting engaged, and now get to send her off into wedded bliss.

So this season has taught me a lot. I’m so thankful I’ve gotten closer to my sister through it, and I get to continue enjoying single life, dating, and creating a home to share with family and friends.

My sister’s time came; I have hope that my time will come too. So one last advantage is that you have some wonderful adventures ahead of you!


Copyright 2014-2019

P.S. Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as from  Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income (at no extra cost to you!), for which I am thankful. So…..

— Use this link to shop on  Amazon

–shop at my Etsy photo card shop: Trees of Transition Art & Design

–keep on reading this blog.

Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!

~Mary Hope

1 Comment

My Younger Sister is Getting Married, and I’m Still Single

Why do younger sisters seem more relaxed, more able to flirt, date, and get engaged than their older, more “responsible,” (but perhaps more reserved) sisters? Younger sisters getting married first has been happening since Rachel and Leah in the Bible. I have several friends in the same situation; we tend to be the introverted, artistic type. In the last year I’ve learned that guys need encouragement sometimes, so when you are on the shy-ish side, it’s harder to open up and show a guy you’re interested. Younger sisters seem to be able to not think so hard about things and just enjoy the present. For example, Marianne Dashwood in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, just lets her interest in Mr. Willaby come whooping out! Her heart gets broken, and then she finds more mature love. Eleanor keeps her feelings mostly pent up inside, but she eventually lets them out, and does find love.

I hoped I could have been married by now so the “younger sister first” wouldn’t happen to me. However, it is: my younger sister is getting married before me. I’m not very competitive, so that helps. I’m not even taking a date to the wedding because I’m the maid of honor and have interference to run between certain wedding guests, and speeches to make.

I have a bit of an ache in my heart because I would enjoy to have someone to dance and talk with at the wedding, but I am peaceful. It helps that I’ve been able to mentally prepare for this marriage because my sister dated for years.
My peace comes from knowing that God has a good plan for my life, and I can trust Him to bring the man for me into my life at the right time. I’m open, excited for my sister, and hopeful for the future. And I’m learning how to flirt a bit!


Copyright 2019

P.S. Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as from  Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income (at no extra cost to you!), for which I am thankful. So…..

— Use this link to shop on  Amazon

–shop at my Etsy photo card/notecard/art shop: Trees of Transition Art & Design

–keep on reading this blog.

Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!

~Mary Hope

Leave a comment

A Year Since a Sudden Good-bye

I didn’t get to say good-bye to my brother-in-law before he died. He hadn’t wanted people to know how sick he was, so my sister didn’t tell family until he was almost gone. I got to the hospital 30 minutes too late. What made it real was seeing his shrouded form underneath the sheet that covered him.
I did make it in time to love and support my sister. I mobilized people and found a church where we could have a service to honor Don’s life.

Don had a great smile, he loved to give. He designed amazing furniture and was a true artist. He loved my sister and was her best friend for over 40 years. (This is making me tear up!)

He encouraged me in my career; he and my sister bought me fancy suits to wear to interviews. He was the first guy to buy me a necklace; I’m wearing it today.

He loved buying kids presents; he had a rough exterior, but a big, loving heart, and he is missed.

Good-bye, Don. See you on the other side.


Leave a comment

Waiting Three Years: A Dream in the Making

photo 3

Sometime dreams take time to come to fruition. Three years ago I knew I needed to stop teaching in Costa Rica and come home. I applied to several schools and even visited one when I was home for spring break. I didn’t connect with the principal, so that fell through, and the English position he thought was opening up, didn’t open.

Then when I got called to be a pre-school aide, that met my needs. I was able to slow down and process the pain, joy, the revelation of character defects that needed to be worked on, and just be loved and heal from my time outside of the USA.

I had had my own classroom with its joys and challenges, so I wasn’t aching to have my own classroom again any time soon, and I served happily in other peoples’ classrooms as an aide, a substitute teacher, and an assistant. I also served the youth of my church for the three years, which kept me in touch with youth culture

After I finished my Master’s project, my “teacher strength” started returning, and the desire to have my own classroom started building again. I had been working with elementary students, and I was not sure if I would want to teach them long term. It got clear to me this year that I got certified to teach secondary students for a reason: I like going more in depth with older students into the subject.

Following a lead teacher and learning how to work as a team has been a good, growing experience for me. It’s humbled me. I’ve had to go to Jesus at times and He has reminded me that He was a servant as well and that by serving the students and teachers I work with, I am serving Him.

Then a job lead came in a humbling way: my younger sister suggested it months before. It took me months to lay down being sort of bugged and just realize she sees my potential and wanted me to get a full teaching job.
My Grandma, who lead the way in being a teacher and writer, passed away in April, and it felt like she passed the baton to me– go out and teach!
So the day after my her funeral,  I pushed myself to get the application done, and then I emailed it all in. The next day, while waiting for a train in Oglevie train station, I received an email asking for an interview! I set the interview for the one day during my Spring Break that worked.

Having lots of first dates over the last year put me at ease for the interview! The founder of the school, who interviewed me, also introduced me to many people, showed me classes, the building, and we had a three-hour conversation with her doing most of the talking.

On my way home I started getting shivers, so the next few days I had a touch of the flu and was knocked out.

On Thursday I didn’t check my email, then when I checked it Friday morning, I received a job offer!

It took a little while to sink in :), then I negotiated a bit, then accepted it. The process just flowed.

This fall I get to teach Senior Bible and College Writing! Recently when I met with two of my bosses, we enjoyed talking about teaching the Bible and writing and just glowed at each other. I feel accepted, embraced, and confident at this new school.

For a few weeks I thought I could keep my life in a suburb and continue commuting to the city, but then it got clear:
Now it’s time to move to the city and fully embrace this new season of life.  I move in July!

Mental shifts are happening. I’m changing some stances on life I grew up with: Test it out to see if it will work before you fully commit.
Now I’m changing to feel that if you feel called to a place:
Don’t hold back! Jump in 100%. Choose to connect, and by living near by I will be able to connect deeply. Put down roots and grow!
Now it’s time for this new adventure.

Oh yeah, AND I get to teach my Seniors C. S. Lewis’ book Screwtape Letters! Amazing!!

photo 5

Leave a comment

It’s Surprising What can Happen When You Hold out Your Hand! The Power of Encouragement to Help People Through a Transition

Last Sunday my sister ran the Chicago marathon, and after my parents and I saw my sister twice and cheered her on, hugged her and encouraged her, we moved to mile 12.5 to try to see her again. At that part of the marathon, near the Chicago River, there was quite a bit of people along the route, but it was mostly quiet when we arrived there. As we scanned the runners for my sister, I joined in with one lady who was saying encouraging words to the runners. Then I saw one older guy just putting out his hand to high five the runners, and so I put out my hand too.

“Go Runners!”
“You can do it!!”

I just put out my hand and high fived people who wanted one. It surprised me how several exhausted-looking runners ran out of their way to let me high-five their hand and say, “Good job! You’re almost half way there!!” I got to see how several people encouraging the runners could change the atmosphere of that part of the race course. My sister had already passed that point, but it was great to encourage those runners right then.

I made some little signs especially for my sister that read “Go, Ruth, Go!” and “We love you, Ruth!”

Around mile nineteen, in a Hispanic neighborhood of Chicago where there was bouncy Latin music playing, the runners seemed more hopeful, but many runners still wanted high-fives as they ran past. I did that until I saw my sister, then I got out into the road and ran with my sister for a 1/2 mile so that I could talk with her and encourage her (and see what it is like!). A couple girls cheered my sister on as we ran past.

At the end of the marathon, a stranger reached out to me so that I could get into the zone just before finish line, so I went up there and encouraged the runners at the end of the race. One guy could only walk, but he was only 100 meters from the finish line, and a lady next to me and I cheered him on. I was so busy cheering on others, I missed seeing my sister pass me, but I did hear them say her name over the loud speaker. My sister is a marathon runner!

It’s fun to encourage complete strangers. Try it sometime.

Blog.Marathon finish line