Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Be very careful, then, how you live -
not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Eph. 5:15, 16.

Today I want to ask each of you to read Mike Cope's blog. Mike's comments today concern a book he is reading by Carl Honore, In Praise of Slowness. I direct you to his comments page, as well, since there Mike posted an essay by Barbara Brown Taylor on Sabbath Resistance.

I learned the value of slowing down from Richard Foster's books, Celebration of Discipline and The Freedom of Simplicity. Foster says,
Many of us would find great relief in discovering our own cycles of activity and quiet. For example, I function best when I alternate between periods of intense activity and of comparative solitude. When I understand this about myself I can order my life accordingly. After a certain amount of immersion in public life, I begin to burn out. And I have noticed that I burn out inwardly before I do outwardly. Hence, I must be careful not to become frantic bundle of hollow energy, busy among people but devoid of life. I must learn when to retreat, like Jesus, and experience the recreating power of God. We are told that Peter tarried in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner (Acts 9:43). And along our journey we need to discover numerous "tarrying places" where we can receive heavenly manna (Freedom of Simplicity, p. 91).

Everyone talks about having less time with their spouse and children, but it seems to be an unsolvable problem. Ten or more years ago Dr. David Elkind addressed the problem in two books: The Hurried Child and All Grown Up and No Place to Go. The cartoon of two children looking into their Daytimers deciding that next Saturday between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. they could meet to play, isn't really very funny.

This lack of family time is a reentry issue all missionary families face. Families do have less time with each other in the U.S. than in other parts of the world, except possibly Japan. Returning/furloughing missionaries need to find a good mentor to help them while they adjust to new situations. This mentor should be able to inform them about the school systems and children's activities that are available, but at some point the family needs to decide about their use of time.

Somewhere Richard Foster states that there is no law that requires us to answer the phone. When I had a land-line phone I had an answering machine. My message stated, "We don't answer the phone. Please leave a message." I didn't promise to call back. It was amazing how well that worked.

Love's prayers,


Thursday, September 22, 2005

You are my God,
and I will give you thanks;
You are my God,
and I will thank you.

Give thanks to the Lord,
for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Psalms 118: 28, 29

The Families in Global Transition's conference was wonderful. Part of that wonderfulness came from being with people with whom you have so much in common. So thank you, Joyce Blake, for putting together such a wonderful, full-of-information and practical-tips-filled conference for us all. The next conference will be in March, 2007, in Houston. I attended the pre-conference workshop on catching the dream when you've lived so much of your life in transition. I plan to share it with a new adult MK friend of mine, who for no specific reason is itching to move again - move anywhere - because it doesn't feel right to be in one place for very long. I also attended Ruth Van Reken's session on Third Culture Kids: Prototypes for Understanding Other Cross Cultural Kids. I had heard some of her material before at the Mental Health and Missions conference in Indiana last year, but she has added some important data to her presentation. Ruth has come up with a Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs) Model. CCKs are 1) traditional TCKs; 2) Children of Bi-multi-cultural Parents; 3) Children of Immigrants; 4) Children of Refugees; 5) Children of Minorities; 6) International Adoptees; and 7) "Domestic" MKs. This last category is interesting. Domestic MKs are children whose parents have moved in or among various subcultures within the child's home country. Children can find themselves in more than one category, e.g. I know several bi-multi-cultural couples who have international adoptee children.

I find Ruth's work and Barbara Schaetti's research (applying minority identification theory to TCK identity theory) fascinating. I would like to take time someday to investigate how Terry LaFramboise studies of minority acculturation fit MKs and TCAs (Third Culture Adults). Each of these groups that Ruth has called CCKs all experience cycles of mobility, differing socio-economic factors, hidden losses and benefits/challenges similar to traditional third culture communities. The TCK research can be applied to CCKs. Mary Pipher, touches on many of these CCK issues in her book, In the Middle of Everywhere. If you haven't read this book, then please do. I think every new church planter should read this book.

At the conference I also viewed a 90 minute film on military brats. I emailed the contact at the web-site yesterday to see if the film is available for purchase. In grad school I took an independent study on the military family - military brats are considered TCKs. When military brats turn 18 they are on their own - no more privileges (read Conway's The Great Santini). Since the time I studied military families to now, there have been a number of positive changes. A large contingent of DOD employees attended the FIGT conference whose only purpose is to help the families of military personnel with any need they have. My prayer is that the church will continue to make the same kinds of improvements in caring for her warrior families.

Hurricane Rita seems to be heading straight for the Texas coast. At the moment it is a force 5 hurricane. A million+ evacuees are leaving the Texas coastal areas. There are no motel/hotel rooms left within 150 miles of the metro-plex. Tarrant county churches are opening up their buildings to these evacuees. On the big signs on the interstate which warn motorists of up-coming accidents/road work and of Amber-alerts, a phone number is displayed for evacuees to call who need a place to stay. It is estimated that an additional 15,000+ people have come to the metro-plex for shelter. This is on top of the 30,000+ evacuees housed here from hurricane Katrina.

Please remember evacuees when you pray. These are the victims of catastrophes of major proportions. Pray that Christians will continue to respond personally and corporately with generosity to this great need. The need will continue to be with us for the next several years. All the needs of the tsunami victims have not been met yet either. Pray that evacuees will look to God as their strength and support. Regardless of what happens in this life we need to remember:

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man
(Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV).

Love's prayers,


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Friends everywhere, roots nowhere, loving places you don't belong, belonging to places you don't love, hating the thought of one more good-bye, afraid to make friends, afraid to lose friends, afraid to love, needing to love and be loved.
Source: Andy, ATCK

Tomorrow I travel to Houston to attend the Families in Global Transition conference. I will be participating in the pre-conference workshop, ATCK Trauma: Recovery into Triumph. I had to put down two choices, so if that workshop is full, will be redirected to To Catch a Dream: Pursuing Your Passion in a Transient World. Either workshop will be helpful to me.

ATCKs often feel like they are pursuing life with the Navajo dream catcher. They sometimes struggle in special ways. A TCK is a third culture kid. In their book, The Third Culture Kid Experience: Growing Up among Worlds, David Pollock and Ruth van Reken came up with a good definition for this term first used by Ruth Hill Useem, a former professor at Michigan State.
A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents' culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.

An ATCK is an adult third culture kid. Missionary kids are TCKs.

Those of us who are adults who chose to live in a foreign culture, learn new languages and customs can consider ourselves bi-cultural - tri-cultural, and so forth. Our children, who had no choice, but who never-the-less grew up in another culture, are third culture kids. TCKs feel different from everyone else, never quite fitting in. Their parents may have returned to the States and are now considered former expatriates. But third-culture kids can never say they are former third-culture kids. They will always be hybrids, the offspring of two cultures. They think differently. They act differently. And they are different in the way they are put together. These differences are very real, regardless of how much they might try to act like the mono-cultural children around them.

In spite of any personal difficulties, I've never known a TCK regret being third culture. They would not trade their experiences for anything. It seems to me that Adult Missionary Kids often have a world view that is inclusive; they seem to care about all kinds of people groups. MK/TCKs gravitate toward minority groups (afterall - they are a minority); toward foreigners, toward the disenfranchised and toward other MK/TCKs. That seems Christ-like to me. MK/TCKs have much to teach us.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

She promised them we would pray.
Won't you join me in this endeavor?

I was listening to NPR on the way home last night and heard how the nations of the world are opening up their hearts and pocket books to us. Can you imagine? Scri Lanka is sending us $25,000.00 and Croatia is sending us $6,000.00. Some of the poorest countries in the world are being incredibly generous. I listened to Canada's ambassador to the U.S. offering us everything they have - electrical power, oil, ships, forensic experts - anything we could want. We just need to let them know what we need - neighbor helping neighbor!

Three thoughts:

1) When we give, God looks at what we have left over - not the amount we gave. God, please bless these generous, poor nations as you blessed the widow who gave her last mite.

2) Other nations saw our brokenness in not being able to respond quickly and it broke their hearts to see the incredible human suffering caused by Katrina. Any thoughts about brokenness being more powerful than pride?

3) The earth groans waiting for its redemption.

Suffering is on my mind today. A little book, put together in Africa for African Christians who live with trauma, that you might find useful, is called Mourning into Dancing: Trauma Healing for the Suffering Church. The book and training on how to use of the book is a project of Wycliffe and the Reformed Church of America. I think this little book would be relevant to us in the states right now. U.S. Christians need a more developed theology of suffering - my opinion.

A verse (Romans 8:28) I had a hard time dealing with, especially after Paul died - people quoted it to me to be comforting - it never was - is a verse I now cherish, but I take it in the context of the rest of chapter 8, i.e., nothing can separate us from the love of God. We tend to forget verse 29 - that we were predestined to conform to the likeness of his son. If we will allow it, suffering can make us more like Jesus. I still wouldn't recommend Rom 8:28 be quoted to Katrina victims.

A verse that has comforted me when Rom 8:28 didn't, will hopefully comfort you today.

Psalm 46:1-3:
"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging."

Pray for Katrina victims, the rest of the suffering world and for the nations. The Lord God reigns. Maranatha!

Love's prayers,


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God
belongs to such as these.
Mark 10:14

A book profiled in the latest Christian Chronicle (September 2005) caught my attention this morning. The book, Long Distance Grandma: Staying Connected Across the Miles, by Janet Teitsort is available from Howard Publishing. I wish I had known of resources like these when my two older grandchildren were young. I can still profit from this book since my youngest, soon-to-be 3 year-old grandchild lives in The Netherlands - quite a distance from her American Oma. (She's coming to the states for the first time for Christmas this year. I'm a happy grandma!)

Some other recommendations for ideas to strengthen child/father and child/mother relationships from a distance are two activity books put out by the National Institute for Building Long Distance Relationships. Publishers are A & E Family Publishers and the ISBN numbers are 0967359953 and 0967359961 respectively. The ideas in these latter two books could also be adapted to long-distance grandparenting.

Missionary moms and dads may want to look at these books, also, since many of you have sent your children back to the states to college. Teitsort has ideas on how to stay connected to your kids in college. Some of your children married and had children here and you stayed on the field. You have become long distance grandparents and now you understand what your parents gave up when they didn't discourage you from heeding God's call. Or you may be like me. For one of my children, "home" seemed to be more there than here.

Whatever the case, bridging the distance is important, no matter the age of the child, which reminds me, I need to call my daughter.

Love's prayers,