Trees of Transition

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


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Fun Book Recommendations: Mainly Focused on Food and Love

Curling up with a riveting book is a great autumn activity, now that you might have more time as the kids are going back to school! (I have been getting back into reading–especially during my one year old’s two-three hour naptime!) Here are some fun and entertaining books that I have read recently:

My Italian Bulldozer: A Paul Stuart Novel (1) (Paul Stuart Series)

Besides having a great title, this quick to read, unique romance novel takes you to Italy where a newly-dumped food writer gets persuaded by his editor to finish his latest cookbook in Italy. The man gets conned at the rental car desk, gets thrown in prison, but because he befriended a stranger on the plane, he calls this guy (who has connections) who gets him out and helps him find a vehicle: A bulldozer! As he drives through the countryside to the town where he is going to write for three weeks, he has time to think. He also enjoys that people respect him more and drive more politely around him because he is in a bulldozer, not a dinky rental car! After arriving in the town, he comes down with a big crush on a fellow writer he meets while working on his book, and then more unexpected ladies show up in town to get his attention. This food writer figures out himself more while eating and writing about mushrooms, wine, and more and enjoying driving his Italian bulldozer around the countryside. It’s a fun book. Check it out here:

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Four Tips To Help You Transition Well Through The Change of Graduating or Retiring

Have your years of schooling ended this spring when you graduated? Or are your decades in the workforce ending as your retire from your career? Both of these life-changing events are similar in that they were something that consumed your life for years and they now have ended…you are in a big life transition as you move to something new.

I have graduated from high school, college, and graduate school, and even though I haven’t officially “retired,” I have left a teaching job to stay home with my children as a homemaker (I switched careers!), so I can relate to the strange newness that you are in or see coming on the horizon when your current endeavor ends. Here are four actions that will help you transition well:

 Tip # 1: Finish Strong

If you have not wrapped up the old job or graduated yet, remember that finishing strong will help have a more brilliant start to your new season. For example, as my school year ended, I needed to rely a bit more on movies as parts of my lessons, but I still stayed connected to my students. An even deeper connection happened when I told my students that I was pregnant and not coming back the next school year. I hold my homeroom of 7th graders first (and it spread across the whole school in like 15 minutes!), and there was so much happy discussion for the rest of the period (and some silly baby name suggestions, such as “Bless Schuh”). I wrote each student an encouraging note, and we had fun at the end of the year (which included pizza and brownies…) We ended well; thinking back makes me happy. If  I transition back to teaching, ending on that strong note will help me start even stronger when I begin again. This can be the same for you!

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Baby Schuh #2 is coming in December!

Joel is excited to be a big brother!

We bought our new home and then found out we have another baby on the way! In fact, even before I knew I was pregnant, I was determined to paint the nursery light yellow during our time between buying the house and moving in. I got it done, and I love that it is already painted for our little one.

Then a month or so of nausea kicked in—this pregnancy is different than our last one (where I was hardly sick)! I didn’t want to eat or cook much, lost nine pounds, and wanted  junk food (when I was hungry). I kept taking my vitamins, drinking lots of water, and eating some. It’s so nice to be through that stage. What was the first trimester like for you?

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Two Book Reviews on World War II books in Honor of My Dad

Today my Dad would have been 82, so I got choked up thinking about him. It’s funny that since he passed last summer, my memories of him have shifted from thinking of him as he was at the end—shriveled, old, sick to when he was active, vibrant, and helpful. My dreams have also helped: A couple weeks ago I had a dream where my Dad was helping me fix something, and he was loving and healthy! In honor of my Dad, here are two book reviews of books set during World War II that I highly recommend reading. My Dad loved books about World War II, and he would have loved reading them.

This winter I read two books about World War II: One fiction and the other nonfiction. One focuses on England, one on Germany, but both about people grappling with war and all the transition and change that it brings.

I have been thinking about the transition of gaining the strength to stand up for what is right instead of letting things slide and enabling evil to grow…

Have you wondered how the people of Germany reached the point where their leaders were commanding them to kill thousands of Jewish people, people with disabilities, and many other people in concentration camps? I have, but I never read about how the German people let this happen until now when I read: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. This book is about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian, pastor, author, and professor who stood up to the Nazi party and aided in an attempt to try and assassinate Hitler.

Eric Metaxas crafted this 500 plus page book in a way that never gets dry, is a page-turner, and shows the background of the country and people of Germany in a way I have never read before. Metaxas explains the factors that built up in Germany after the defeat of World War I so that the people wanted a strong leader, and eventually they were willing to have Hitler fill that role.

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Where DID that Shoe Go? And Spring Card Sale!

“Where DID his other shoe go?” I thought as I fumbled around in the blankets and toys by my son’s car seat. The other little white shoe, which I had already put back on his size 5 foot TWICE during that shopping trip, did not turn up even after five minutes of looking.

My mind weighed the options: “Do I go back to Aldi to look in the parking lot?” Contrasted against, “Those shoes are getting old with lots of black scuff marks, so I can just let it go…” But then my mind protested, “Those are the easiest shoes to put on him, and I don’t have another great pair for him right now! I really want that shoe back!! God, please help me to find Joel’s shoe.”

I talked with my husband as I dropped off a package at FedEx, even got a bit snippy because I didn’t think I could call Aldi (they don’t have a customer service desk like large grocery stores). My husband tried to call them, but they said you only could email the store…

So I decided to drive the extra 15 minutes back to the store and see if I could find that shoe. The day shone with spring brightness, so my mood came back up…

I pulled into the Aldi parking lot, knelt on the ground to look under the cars that were parked where we had been…to no avail…no little white sneaker…

I had given it a good go…I pulled out of the parking lot, then onto the main road—the same route I had driven an hour before.

Then, there on the median, in the middle of the busy road, lay Joel’s shoe!!! I almost didn’t believe it, but it had the black accent on the back—it was his shoe! I pulled two u-turns at the next two  stoplights to get back to the spot and pulled over. I had to wait for traffic to go by (and I snapped a photo while I waited to run across the road), and I picked up the little shoe!! I smiled and jumped around as I showed my son his lost shoe.

Then a memory came back—I had rolled my window down around then…and I sort of remember something hitting my shoulder, but I hadn’t looked…then it hit me: My son had chucked his shoe over my shoulder, from the backseat, out my window. Wow, that was a good arm—a little shoe chucker! Wow, God answered my prayer and helped me find that shoe!!

I called my husband to tell him the story, giggling as I said, “I found his shoe—it was in the middle of Flying Cloud Drive…”

God cares about everything. I’m so glad he is like that!   He cares about that shoe because I cared about it, and I am his child.

So talk to him about what is bugging you today. He cares…even about finding a scuffed little shoe.

If you want to celebrate spring: SALE TIME!! Oh, yes, if you need spring cards for Easter, baby showers, mother’s day, graduations, weddings and more, check out my card sale over at my Etsy shop—15% off everything until Sunday night, March 31st, 2019 at midnight CST. Check it out here: Spring Card Sale!

~Mary Hope

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 shop: Trees of Transition Art & Design

–keep on reading this blog.

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

~Mary Hope




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Spicy Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini

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Is pasta one of your comfort foods? It is for me; the zing of red pepper mixed with garlic and lemon on the pasta helps bring me comfort during a hard time. This week I just was tired, but making this dish that has amazing flavor cheered me up for days! I created this recipe this week using the pasta and white wine we had leftover from having family dinner at our place.

1 lb. angel hair pasta, cooked

4 Tblsp. butter

2 Tblsp. olive oil

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

12 oz. medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 small zucchini, sliced

1 cup. white wine (chardonnay works well)

1 tsp. salt (and more to taste—as needed)

½ tsp. ground pepper

2 Tblsp. dried parsley flakes

¼ cup fresh lemon juice (2 small lemons)

Prepare the pasta if you do not have leftover pasta.

Melt 2 Tblsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes, and cook together for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 3-5 minutes until they are pink and cooked through. Place this mixture in a medium bowl and keep warm while you make the sauce.

In that same pan, place the other 2 Tblsp. of the butter and the oil and melt. Add the zucchini and saute for 2 minutes. Then add the wine, lemon juice, parsley flakes, salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 more minutes.

Then add the shrimp mixture and the pasta and cook for 5-10 minutes until hot and thoroughly mixed.

Serve immediately and enjoy with your favorite wine or sparkling juice! Makes 4 large servings.





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 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

The Transition of Learning to Be Outward Focused

I heard in his voice that my husband wanted to go to the cabin this weekend, but I didn’t really want to go. My husband is not blatantly clear about what he wants like I am, and I’m learning to hear him when he wants something, especially when I don’t want to do it. It is easy for me to try to “run him over” from what he wants to do with my excuses or fear, and get him to change his mind.

On Friday I let the fears I had about going farther north for the weekend—“What if our car goes off the road and we have a baby to protect?!” “What if it is too cold?” “What is the road isn’t plowed or we get stuck up there?” Stephen listened to me, and we kept going back and forth. Go, not go.

But then I sensed he really wanted to go, and when he finally told me, “I want to figure out a problem that Uncle Roger is having with the furnace, and I want alone time up there with my little family—an adventure.” I heard him. I pushed myself to stop being afraid and just do what my husband wanted. Then we slept on the decision, and the next morning we both came to the same decision: “Let’s try to get to the cabin in the Prius, and if the roads are too bad, we will come back.”

We reached a new level in our communication, and the road was fine driving up there (not so much driving back). We did have an adventure—with walking on the frozen lake and having to pee in a bucket because of frozen pipes! Some of my fears DID happen—the weather got bad on the way home, so we had a stressful end to our drive home on snowy roads.

Part of me wanted to say, “I KNEW this would happen!” But loving my husband meant jumping into the adventure, and enjoying sitting in front of a roaring fire and playing cribbage with him, and not saying, “I knew this would happen” on our drive home. I love thinking of my son standing in front of the fire with Stephen, and laughing because he loved the sound of a coaster falling on the hearth.

A change is happening in my ability to pick up on my husband’s needs and fulfill them even if I don’t really want to sometimes.

The transition of learning to be more outward focused (picking up clues of what others want and are telling without saying the words) instead of being inward focused has taken years for me to learn. Recently a book that has helped me continue on with this journey is the book, Everybody, Always by Bob Goff.

Bob’s book is a collage of stories of different people who are loving others well and that he is learning from: Ugandan witch doctors, airport checkpoint guys, his neighbor… He drives home the point, which is the tagline of the book, “Becoming love in a world full of setbacks and difficult people.”

It’s easy to love those who love us, but Bob is showing us how to love those people who are hard to love. For example, he tells of a phone call received from an inmate (a wrong number actually), and Bob decides to show love to this man who keeps calling him because he thinks Bob’s number is his girlfriend’s number. Bob helps the man connect with his girlfriend, who has now moved on, and then finds out the inmate needs money for an ankle bracelet in order to get out of prison. Bob tells the man that he will pay for it (which it turned out to be a lot more expensive than he thought!), and shows the inmate care, right when he needed it.

Bob says, “These pages contain the stories of some of my friends and what they’ve taught me about extravagant love and acceptance. I’m indebted to each one. The first thing I’ve learned from them is that I have a long way to be the kind of loving person I’m hoping I’ll be some day. The second is that only the kind of radical love and acceptance I’ve experienced from this will help me close the distance”


(p. 226 of Everybody, Always)

My favorite chapter was when Bob describes how he borrowed someone’s small plane to fly to an event he was attending, and when he was returning home one of the lights that indicates his wheels are down for landing didn’t turn on when it was supposed to. He circled the landing strip for a long time, then decided to just take the risk and land (or he was going to just run out of gas). He prepared to crash because you cannot land with just one wheel…but he didn’t! He had both wheels out down there—it was the light that was faulty. Then Bob makes the application that has helped me:

“Recognize when your beautiful ambitions are getting stuck inside your head. You don’t need to take all the steps, just the next one. God may not give us all the green lights we want, but I’m confident He gives us all the green lights He wants us to have at the time. Go with what you’ve got. If God wants you to stay put, He’ll let you know. We also have some guaranteed green lights that are always on: our noble desires; God’s clear instructions in the Bible to love everybody, always; His love for us; and the gift of each other. You can put a lot of weight on these and triangulate from there to figure out the rest of life’s unknowns. The difference between the number of green lights we want and the number we get from God is a pretty good description of what faith is. Faith isn’t knowing what we can’t see; it’s landing the plane anyway, rather than circling the field. Get the plane on the ground” (p. 94 of Everybody, Always). I don’t have to have all the possible problems figured out before I do something! Yes, there could be snow on the roads and that could cause trouble, but I didn’t need to let that fear stop me from doing something that turned out to be pretty fun! Take risks. Just love people.

This book is helping me take more risks in loving people, and I’m so glad I read it. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to give your copy away instead of just letting it sit on the shelf.

Check out Everybody, Always right here: It is a fun and easy read.

I’m glad I finished this book this week, the day we were discussing going to the cabin or not. Our cabin adventure brought Bob’s point home—we will have setbacks, frozen pipes, slippery roads, but God’s love can help us love the people around us well.

What tips do you have on learning to be more others focused?

~Mary Hope

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 shop: Trees of Transition Art & Design

–keep on reading this blog.

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

~Mary Hope