For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Cheers and tears often accompany transitions in our lives.  

While potty training our daughter, our days were filled with plenty of cheering, delight and tears. Part of our learning as parents was discovering when she was ready. We watched her cues and talked about what it meant to use the potty. We read lots. We asked questions. We spoke firmly to her. We waited and practiced patience. We offered grace. We persisted. We cried. We listened to her screams. We knew this was just one step in a lifetime of learning.  

And then one day it happened. So we cheered together. We sang silly songs. We high-fived.  

In my life transitions, I’m all too familiar with the tears and cheers involved.  

When I was living in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, I was homesick during the early months. One phone call with my mom vividly stands out. I was teary, as usual, and my mom spoke firmly to me: “Kim, you have got to get a hold of yourself.”  

Her firm but loving words spoke to me. For I had let the fear and emotions take over. I felt sorry for myself rather than remembering all the support I had from family and friends. As alone as I felt, I was surrounded in love. 

Too often in transitions we fail to see the great cloud of witnesses supporting us.  

Sometimes during life’s transitions—welcoming a new child, moving, beginning a job, going away to college, transferring schools, learning to drive—we need a firm but loving word. Sometimes we need to take a step back and let our children fall down. Or maybe we need to let ourselves fall down. At other times we need to join our children right where they are: in the tears, uncertainty and doubts.  

Too often in transitions we fail to see the great cloud of witnesses supporting us.

In every transition, whether big or small, we do well to remember God’s presence. God’s presence in the tears and the joys. God’s presence sitting with us on the potty … traveling with us across the street or across the world … walking with us to school … welcoming a new family member.  

In the moments of our lives, whether savoring the joy or contemplating the sadness, the still, small voice reaches out to us and blesses us: “You are not alone. I am with you always.”  


Whenever a transition takes place in your family, take time to recognize it. Model to your family that transitions are part of life and through each one, we do not go it alone. Gather with your family, light a candle, read a piece of Scripture and pray for one another. At the end mark the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, spouse of an ELCA pastor and co-author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is

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