You may wonder what a book cousin is. Come near and I will tell you a story.

Once upon a time Amy and Joann worked for the same organization in China. As colleagues, they trained and then supported foreign English teachers scattered around China. But more than that, they were friends, good friends.

One of them was destined to write a book and her name was Joann. One of them was destined to go through a mid-life crisis and thought that writing a book would be a brilliant career move because she was lacking in skills that the work force in America valued and she had grown accustomed to eating and heat in the winter and needed money and when she was crazed she was like a mama bear storming through life. And her name was Amy.

But we are getting ahead of the story.

Joann and Amy had a favorite neighborhood restaurant they nicknamed The Green Umbrella (GU for short). On the day they discovered it all of the outdoor tables had green umbrellas. Though the restaurant almost never had green umbrellas outside again, the name stuck.

Joann unleashed a monster when she helped Amy set up a blog; in fact one of Amy’s earliest posts involves a conversation over green beans at GU and the unleashed monster and maybe a bit of Joann’s sighing at what she might have done to the world.

The would often meet at the GU after a long work day or one of them returned from a work trip. Another evening Amy learned about hashtags as they munched on fried peanuts waiting for their Kung Pao Chicken. GU became a bit character in the story of their becoming authors.

One spring Amy set out to write 500 words a day on her book. And she did. From mid-January until the end of April she wrote six days a week on what would become the backbone of Looming Transitions.

That same year Joann traveled as a translator to Sichuan and when she returned, recounted discovering a church bell from—of all places—Coffeyville Kansas. Joann had called Amy while on the trip and told her about the bell, and the Kansas connection, and the indestructibleness of the church. But it was at GU while eating the deliciousness that poorly translates as family-style-tofu, that the full story came out.

Weeks, then months passed. Over time, plates of green beans, peanuts, and spicy meat were consumed as Joann and Amy moaned and celebrated, each believing in the other’s book more than her own.

Joann caught the “Bell Bug” as she called it. Having discovered one bell in Sichuan, she knew more must exist. And she was right. Always up for an adventure, Amy joined Joann as they hunted for bells in Shanghai, Qingdao, Harbin, Tianjin, and around Beijing.

And then one day the GU was demolished in the name of progress.

Unrelated to the destruction of a favorite restaurant, Joann boarded a plane and moved back to the U.S. Several months later, Amy followed suit.

And time passed. And editors were hired. And cover designers were found. And slowly, slowly all those consumed peanuts and cups of tea brought forth life.

January 12, 2016 Amy announced the birth of Looming Transitions. Joann celebrated and was quick to text or email whenever she heard of someone reading her friend’s book. And then it was Joann’s turn. The editing done, the cover ready, the layout completed.

Come close children, as I lower my voice with a dramatic pause—this is where our tale takes a turn befitting a movie. What day do you think The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China was shared with the world? January 12, 2017!

I know, I know. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I might find the timing a bit far fetched myself.

But this is the true story of how The Bells and Looming Transitions came to be book cousins.

The end.


I love The Bells Are Not Silent not only because I got to have a front row seat to the research and writing (and am mentioned in the book—keeping it real people), but because it highlights how God is at work all the time. We are the ones who forget to look or notice.

Here is the description from the back cover of Joann’s book:

When Joann discovered a 126-year-old bell hanging in a church in southwest China she knew that there was a story to tell. Who had decided to ship it? How had it been transported? How had it survived the political turmoil of the 1950s and 1960s? She also knew that if there was one bell, there must be others. Over the course of eight months she travelled around China looking for old church bells, finding ones from France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. This book is a collection of stories about those bells. But more importantly, they are stories of God’s faithfulness to his church in China.

To those who have eyes to see, let them tune in to what is around them. Amen? Amen.

Leave a comment sharing place you have seen God recently. Don’t overthink :)! Just share and you’ll be entered to win a copy of The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China.



Leave A Comment

  1. Bridget April 26, 2017 at 6:22 am - Reply

    Yesterday I ran across an old Family Circus cartoon with a Spring picture. The kids were saying something like, “Boy, Mom, God sure likes to color a lot in Spring.”

    • Amy Young May 1, 2017 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      Amen :) . . . the colors of spring are one of my favorite parts of this time of year!

  2. Amber April 26, 2017 at 6:43 am - Reply

    I was provided just the right funds needed at the moment needed for a trip to China

  3. Laurel W. April 26, 2017 at 6:47 am - Reply

    So proud of you both! Recommended your book to a friend the other day Amy. :) She and her family are getting ready to move to Tanzania. And I saw God working in my 9 year old’s heart the other day when he wanted to teach a lesson to his siblings about the true meaning of Easter. ❤️

    • Amy Young May 1, 2017 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      Thanks Laurel . . . you telling people is the best way to get the world out :). And how are you old enough to have a 9 year old?!

  4. M'Lynn April 26, 2017 at 6:56 am - Reply

    I’ve seen God in the invitation to work (for fun) in a local garden. It came on the same day I won a book giveaway and was given an orange at the grocery store. Blessings in triplicate are not to be overlooked :)

    • Amy Young May 1, 2017 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      Triplicate blessings are the best :)! Isn’t gardening fun?

  5. Alicia April 26, 2017 at 7:37 am - Reply

    I saw God show up yesterday in a conversation with a sister in Christ. He is so faithful to us.

  6. Stephany April 26, 2017 at 10:14 am - Reply

    I was talking to an elderly man in my Hunan neighborhood a few days ago about why I was sharing some Easter eggs with him, when he got very excited and eked out a slurred phrase I didn’t quite understand. (This grandpa had a stroke in the past year so now is partially paralyzed, wheel chair bound, and very difficult to understand.) Finally, as he kept repeating himself I realized that he was saying, “Yesu! (Jesus)” and “Shengdan Jie (Christmas)!” I was overwhelmed to realize that he remembered what had been shared with him about Christmas before his stroke, and had made the connection between Christmas and Easter himself. I had assumed that his memories and mental capacity had faded along with his ability to speak clearly, or move. But our Father can do the impossible to work in people’s lives and draw them to Himself.

    • Amy Young May 1, 2017 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      Stephany your heart for people moves me! And I love this interaction with the elderly man!!

  7. Jody Collins April 26, 2017 at 11:29 am - Reply

    oh this post makes me smile, Amy; I can hear you speaking as if we’re in the same room having a cup of coffee (or tea!) I will look at Joann’s book soon–promise! Where have I seen God lately? I heard Him gently correcting me the other day, does that count? And right now I can see Him outside my dining room window, greening up the world.

    • Amy Young May 1, 2017 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      Oh I wish we were having a cup of something with you! And of course the HS talking to you counts :). I love the greening up the world time of year.

  8. Heidi April 26, 2017 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Today we pick up our little boy who lived with us for two years and then he had to leave us and go to an orphanage 10 months and 23 days ago. (But who is counting). Today against the odds God is giving him back to us!

  9. Suzanne Oliver April 26, 2017 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    I had a hard conversation with one of my children last Thursday. (I’ve been crying for
    almost all of this year and that day was no exception.) That night as I lay in bed, I started
    laughing and praying because God was so speaking to me and telling me I had handled
    that situation well, despite the tears, and although I often have a hard time when I hear
    others speak of this (it sounds goofy to me) I just lay there, laughing and praying and
    thanking God for that time with Him. First time ever.

  10. Jeanette Hunt April 26, 2017 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    My husband and I needed to make a tough decision regarding our business and family relationships. God showed up at the meeting when we met with the family member to tell him of our decision. We pray God will continue to redeem the situation.

  11. Marie April 26, 2017 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Recently I was at a conference where we sung praises in many different languages. (Russian, Albanian, English, Spanish, German and Romanian) Seeing all these different cultures at this meetings reminded me of God’s creativity.

    • Amy Young May 1, 2017 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      I love hearing the singing in different languages :)!!

  12. Beth Brubaker Yost April 26, 2017 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Found a $20 bill in my Bible at Bible study this morn and met a homeless / pregnant couple later on the street to pass it on too!

  13. Hadassah Doss April 26, 2017 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    We’ve been looking for a home for our dog when we return Stateside, and I’ve been praying a lot about it. I asked my aunt the other day, and she said she knew of a lady who might be interested. The next day, my mom said she’d asked a lady and that this lady wanted the dog. Because my aunt and mom live near each other and attend the same church, I got to wondering if it was the same lady. My mother confirmed it yesterday. I totally believe God answered my prayer TWICE, and have no doubt this is the home for our dog;)

    • Amy Young May 1, 2017 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      Not only does God notice the sparrows :)!! He loves your dog too. His tenderness touches me!

  14. Mike April 27, 2017 at 8:52 am - Reply

    I saw God’s hand this week in the sale of the place where we’re renting. Now I look forward to seeing how God will provide our next home. Time to move…again!

    • Amy Young May 1, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Oh Mike, your positive attitude impresses me. The thought you you needing to move again wears me out :)

  15. Carol Giles April 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Oh my… what a great (and funny) story, with all the drama, excitement, intrigue, and truth one can handle late in the afternoon. Love it… love it … love it more!

  16. Julie May 10, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

    In a transition myself these days… Listening for the bells, waiting on God’s 1st call as a pastor. And I heard and saw God in the tears of a friend who called to lament military separation from her mate. In the prayer that ensued, God was present in the image of us just sitting like Mary because there was nothing better for us than just that. What a gift.

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