Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.

Leave a comment

Remembering Uncle Chris


I only knew my husband’s Uncle Chris for 2 ½ years, but I remember his leathery cheeks pulled up into a smile that burst with kindness. I first met him at Christmastime when Stephen took me to California to meet his family in 2014. Uncle Chris was Stephen’s Dad’s older brother who lived nearby and loved helping out and driving with us to the airport when we had to fly home.

A year after I met Uncle Chris, Stephen and I were engaged and the family put together a surprise bridal shower for us on New Years Day in 2016. That day we received the only card from him while I knew him, but I am so glad we kept it. He gave us an Amazon gift card (that we used to buy a Tiffany lamp), and he wrote us this message:

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Pet Sympathy Cards

Pets bring so much joy that when one passes away, you have to go through the grieving process, just like any other loss. Cards help during those times. Here is one of my pet loss sympathy cards: See more details at: Trees of Transition Cards on Etsy. Helping family and friends through this kind of loss can mean so much.


~Mary Hope

P.S. A book that has helped me process grief is:

A Grief Observed  by C. S. Lewis. Check it out. It is also an audio book: A Grief Observed Audio Book

Copyright 2017


Jess Gelso Andres Reminder…Missing Her Laugh…


This week a person I worked with on her writing reminded me of my friend Jess. Jess passed away in November of 2013, and the piece I wrote about her has been read by people all over the world (find it here: Writing that piece about her helped me process the suddenness of her passing. I now need to process a bit more of missing Jess.
Continue reading


Top Ten Activities to Restore Hope After Job Loss

During this transition time, these activities have helped me greatly:

10. Run Toward Love. After I was fired, I drove out to my parents’ home where they served me pot roast and just let me cry, tell my story multiple times, and love me.
9. Take Someone with YouIf you still have to clear out your classroom or cubicle, take a loving person with you to finish off the job of clearing out your things. My Mom accompanied me; it helped to have a cheerleader.
8. Unpack Your Boxes and Reorganize Your Life. I let the boxes from work sit there for a week, then I tackled the project of finding spots for all those books. Just face into the boxes and start creating new life rhythms by putting your favorite work objects around your home.
7. Connect with Loving Co-workers, if possibleI communicated with several people at my old job about what happened, and it surprised me how compassionate they were! Several wrote me emails and cards full of truth and encouragement. One former co-worker brought chocolate and came over to talk; it was hard, but helpful to hear her opinion. Multiple people encouraged me to not let this situation jade me toward teaching, and told me “You ARE a good teacher.” Their words helped pull the poison out of the wound the job loss had afflicted. Because that co-worker had more objective viewpoint right then, she helped me know what I could say about the job loss. I’m so thankful for her coaching.
6. Go Away for a Few Days. Yes, file for unemployment as soon as possible, but you just need time away for a bit to let down so that you can heal. I visited my brother and his family the week after my job ended, and it was there, surrounded by love that I had the strength to file for unemployment. Filing and retelling the story was hard and very humbling, but it helped me process the trauma. Hugs from my one-year-old nephew, and then an invitation from my sister-in-law to stay for four days instead of one was healing balm. My mind could let down, forget what happened for a while, and just rest, play, and love.
5. Create a New Life Structure. Get up early on work days. Apply for jobs, go network, and let job hunting be your new “work.” Have hope; you will get another job.
4. ExerciseI planned exercise into my day because it relieved stress, and brought me joy! Go run by the lake or plan to go dancing.
3. Maximize Your Networks. Yes, sign up and use networking and job hunting sites, but also connect with people in person. I went to my grad school’s career office, and they loaned me career books (a great one is The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry), critiqued my resume, and supported me in thinking about different career choices. They helped me know it’s fine to try something different, like floral design…
2. Do What You Love and Feel Your FeelingsI read, I sang, I cooked. I took floral design classes, and I started writing a book. I cried, felt sad, shouted with anger, ached with loss, and chose to forgive. Then a tutoring job came!
1. Believe and Know That You Are Loved Just As You AreYes, sudden job loss wounds your heart and your confidence. Yes, you need time to heal, but while you are healing, just know that there is a plan for you designed by the Great Creator. Know that you are loved. You are not your job; you are of full value just as you are.
Copyright 2014 by M. H. Campbell

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

Ode to the Death of a Computer

Mid-December sun shone into the old farmhouse as I unpacked the box of the refurbished computer. After I pushed the “on” button the Welcome of swirling letters and music made me laugh.

Friends and I snapped silly photos in photo booth, and I loaded hours of music onto the machine.

It made the last semester of paper-writing easier, and helped me graduate, apply for jobs, then apply for grad school.

It typed my way through grad school, crashed once, but I was able to update it and make it better.

This computer connected me to home via Skype to be able to talk I family and friends while I taught in Costa Rica.

I watched “Confessions of a Shopaholic” the night before I flew home and then in the Mexico City airport as I journeyed home.

My grad degree had to be finished of by a grand research paper, and last year my computer and I did it, and I graduated.

It helped me connect with family, friends, and strangers through email, stories, poems, a blog…

On Sunday night, the last DVD it played, Soul Surfer, made me cry from happiness and inspiration.

Then I had known the computer was struggling, but it knonked out on Monday morning, during summer vacation, where I don’t really need it… I have time to be thankful for how the 7 1/2 year old computer helped me accomplish goals and contemplate my next goals… and my next computer…



Saying Good-bye to Jess Gelso Andres: Processing the Death of a Friend


Jess and Steve

On Wednesday, November 28th, 2013, sitting in the same room where nine years earlier we had celebrated the marriage of Jess and Steve, and now where we were celebrating the life of Jess after her sudden death was a strange, unnerving, and sad experience. There was hope, but it was mixed with grief. Many of the people who were in the youth group and in Steve’s worship band around the time when Jess and I were finishing high school were there, so it was reunion-like, but the reason to gather was not happy. Many people at the funeral knew Steve more than Jess, so here’s a bit of about this beautiful lady who is now peacefully with Jesus:

When I started attending the youth group at Calvary Church when I was sixteen, I was hesitant to fully jump in until I felt the welcome of many wonderful folks. One of the people I connected with was Jess Gelso. She had a bright smile, a gentle voice, sparkling eyes, and this wonderful dark, curly hair. She played soft-ball, and loved playing with kids.

We must have connected at the Intense Discipleship Training program Calvary offered during the summer. I remember helping out at the King’s Castle outreach that Jess was deeply involved with, so I think that’s where we connected, and it was over art!

Jess would drive an hour out to where I lived on a farm with my family, and she would hang out with all of us, but she and I would usually make something creative. I think she was the one who introduced me to using acrylic paint, and she taught me how to use hodge-podge glue to make collages of bits of paper.

Life moved on, but Jess and I would connect often at church and then occasionally hang out. Jess went away to college and came back, she fell in love with Steve, and then had an amazingly sparkly diamond on her finger. I had her over and we were making something at my parents’ kitchen table when she said, “Steve and I would love to have you be in our wedding!” I accepted and was SO excited to be part of their big day.

Jess chose an amazing bridesmaids dress for all of us bridesmaids to wear: It was the shade of eggplants, it was elegant and fun because it had a bit of netting underneath that made its long skirt to puff out just a bit. She gave each of us small silver crosses to wear. I’ve worn that dress and necklace multiple times since then.

Jess was the friend that helped me get started wearing make-up. She didn’t require me to wear it for the wedding, she just gave me some tips, and I was finally ready to learn.
Being with Jess and Steve on their wedding day was an honor. My favorite part was after they were married, we went outside into the chilly, clear October day to take photos on the hill next to the church. We were all so happy. It was freezing, but the photos turned out stellar. Jess told me one time that one of her favorite things about Steve is that he made her laugh.

After Jess became Mrs. Andres, I hung out with her every so often, but life picked up speed for both of us, so our visits got farther and farther apart. Many Christmas Eve services I would run over and say “Hi!” to her as she sat with the Andres clan. I would call and leave voice mails for her and we would occasionally text. The last text I had from her was on August 12th and she was letting me know I accidentally left a message for the Jess I work with on her voice mail, and she wanted me to know–she ended it with “:) hope you are well! Good night!” I texted her back letting her know I was well and with a photo of my nephew.

Even though the last season of my friendship with Jess wasn’t close, I always knew she was my friend. Now that I know I will never see her again, there’s a gap. How do you process losing a friend unexpectedly?

Here’s some things that are helping me:

My first response to the news was just to cry, so let yourself just cry and be sad.

I’m grateful I could attend the funeral and receive love from so many people that knew I had been friends with Jess. Hugs help a lot.

At the funeral I let myself feel the sadness, and when the casket passed by I said my final “good-bye.” The funeral was filled with photos, video, memories of her smiling, so that’s how I will remember her–her eyes sparkling and her wonderful laugh.

Talking about Jess with people who knew her has helped, and writing about her helps too.

I’m so thankful that Jess was part of my life. She gently loved me, encouraged me, and I’m so glad we created things together. Jess is missed, and I will not forget her. I’m glad she can now create with colors none of us have ever seen, and she gets to be with Jesus.

Jess, give Jesus a hug from me, and let Him give you a hug from me. I’ll see you later, Jess.

Heaven is richer now.

Jess and Mary

~Mary Hope

Copyright 2017

P.S. A book that has helped me process grief is:

A Grief Observed  by C. S. Lewis. Check it out. It is also an audio book: A Grief Observed Audio Book

Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as to  Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income, for which I am thankful. Please…

— shop on Amazon using this link: Amazon

–stop by my Etsy photo card/notecard/art shop: Trees of Transition Art, Design & Cards

–keep on reading this blog.

Thank you again. Peace to you and your family!

~Mary Hope

Copyright 2017