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tck purgatory


Okay, I’m being a tad dramatic.

But can we just stop and acknowledge for a second the unsettling discomfort of moving from one place to another? The time has not come to say your goodbyes, because you are still living every day life in the present place — grocery shopping, writing emails, heating up your lunch in the staff kitchen. But your mind is also trying to plan the next steps — where you’ll live, how it will feel to walk into church that first Sunday back, whether or not you should even attempt to take home all of the pottery you’ve acquired. I’m here and I’m there and I am just not good at doing the splits.

Let me tell you something that may come as a surprise, considering I am 32. This is the first time I am making a conscious choice to leave somewhere. Okay, yes, Keane and I decided to leave Chicago three years ago, but we did so knowing that we would probably return. Before this, I have never really been part of the decision-making process to uproot, transplant, regrow. Now here I am, willingly subjecting myself to that temptress, that backstabber: change.

It won’t surprise some of you to hear that I have been waaaaaaay over-preparing for this transition. I’ve been mentally keeping track of all the ways this could be difficult, and all the ways that my friends back home have changed or moved on, and all the ways I will feel culture shock, etcetera. I snuffed out my own excitement about moving back home weeks ago.

Then, this past week, God spoke to me through at least three different people. One friend told me boldly and wisely that I needed to start finding things to look forward to, not just dread. The hard things will happen, and I can’t put a stop to them, but I can allow myself to anticipate and then savor the sweet things that are coming our way. Then Keane and I attended repatriation (meaning: moving back to the motherland) training, and the greatest gift of that time was in being reminded that reentry to the States is not an illness to be gotten over as quickly as possible. It’s a part of a journey in which God is working in my life and my family’s life, and we need to be experiencing that, not rushing through it. And finally one of my most matter-of-fact, practical (dare I say “Iowa strong”?) friends told me to shut the heck up about being worried about certain parts of moving back, because it was utter nonsense and I needed to cut the crap. (Okay, you didn’t say it that way. But that’s how I heard it and how I needed to hear it and I love you.)

So here I am, living in the in-between, willingly, with hands that are slowly opening, releasing the fear and my tendency to prepare for the worst, and receiving the lovely, life-giving words of dear people whose capacity for wisdom and hope are greater than my own.


what goes around comes around.


Hello WordPress, my old friend.

I feel I should give a nod to the time that has passed since my last post. I would much prefer to simply jump right in to my latest rambling thoughts, but a passing reader might one day visit this blog and be baffled by my four-year disappearance. So, Time, I tip my hat to you, acknowledge that you have passed by rather quicker than I thought you would, and by the way, could you possibly slow down just a bit? Because now I have a baby, and he’s growing up much too fast.

Back to the matter at hand. I first began this blog out of a desire to find some kind of grounding, some platform for processing who I am and who I am becoming in light of the innumerable changes I experienced while growing up. As the byline of my blog states, I was a Third Culture Kid who had been replanted as an adult in the States, but was having a hard time taking root.

In the years since my last post, roots appeared. There are lots of reasons for that, and perhaps I will share those reasons one day. But the questions I had had about myself and my place in the world were gleaning answers. It felt so right, and long overdue, but very worth the wait.

So what am I doing back here? Well, back in 2014, my husband and I decided to take some risks, step out in faith, and move overseas to become workers at a school for TCKs — the same school that I attended as a teenager. And in six short months, we will be wrapping up our time here and reentering the States.

I am really looking forward to certain aspects of this impending transplant. I miss people. I miss English. I miss Trader Joe’s. I miss, Lord help me, preservatives in my food. But I am also anticipating feeling like a square peg in a round hole, again. I remember too well what it was like to move back to the States for college, a prelude for what became the most difficult and lonely year of my life. Now I am an adult, married and with a child, returning to friends and family and a church. I will not be walking this journey alone. And yet 100% of the people I have known who have walked this path of repatriation ahead of me have struggled. No one has really been able to put their finger on the problem; they just unanimously agree that this is an uncomfortable and even painful process.

If you know me, you won’t be surprised that I am pre-processing these future changes, even though I know I can’t really prepare for them. So please bear with this TCK as a whole lot of processing is about to happen.

Here we go again!



How is this only Tuesday?

That question probably clues you in to the kind of week I am having. Oh man. It’s not been a bad week by any stretch of the imagination. Just full. A very full week. More conversations and experiences and emotions have been poured into the last few days than I thought possible.

This weekend I was privileged and grateful to run another half marathon with my dad. The man has turned into a running machine, yet still refuses to leave my side during these races. Once more, I’ve sworn it will be my last…though I admit the itch has already started to resurface. (Shhhh. Don’t tell dad.) I love spending time with my parents and the continuity of time I feel when I am with them. They’ve known me my whole life (thank you, Captain Obvious), and I love the stories they share that connect my current existence with life in 1985, and 1996, and 2001, and last week. I love feeling rooted to my parents, a feeling of deep belonging.

Continuity is a strange animal. Some peoples’ lives seem to be comprised of neat and tidy chapters; mine is delineated by the continent on which I resided at any given point in time. Mine feels less like cohesive chapters and more like a random assortment of childhood collections. There are my stickers, and here are some rocks, and I kept some coins around here somewhere. They all fit in a box, but they don’t really go together.

When I’m with my parents, that doesn’t seem true anymore. They witnessed most of the non-chapters of my life and recall the funny mishaps, new friendships, and minute details that made up life in its every stage. They bring a common thread to all of my experiences.

This is one of those days in which continuity seems so important. You could name almost any date in the past 27 years and I would have no clue where I was, but I know precisely where I was when I heard the news about 9/11. And every year it feels like yesterday.

A friend shared this link, and I can’t help but pass it on. I love Jon Stewart even as I occasionally cringe at his “nothing is sacred” sense of humor. But this episode, his first following 9/11, is poetry and beauty and feeling. I have so many thoughts on his “I grieve but do not despair” comment…but this post is long enough already.

To be continued.

being the beloved


Have you ever tricked yourself into thinking that the next season of life will be calmer than the present? I am one of those people who almost always feels like she is on the edge of control, barely juggling life’s many responsibilities, always longing for that barely-out-of-reach state of Having It All Together.

Case in point: summer “break.” I was sure that life after graduate school would be a breeze. Wrong. Between working three jobs, looking for full-time work, and trying to enjoy the pleasures of a summer in Chicago, there were rarely enough hours in a day. Surely life would assume a more gentle pattern post summer school? I guess it was my own fault that I traveled far and wide for two weeks straight, always moving, moving. There’s a danger in such busyness, and I found myself succumbing to the mental and spiritual numbness allowed by my crazy calendar. And to be honest, I think the last time my calendar wasn’t crazy was…a long time ago.

So it was a hidden grace that I was brought to a complete stop this week by sickness. Unable to continue attacking my omnipresent to-do list, I finally settled down to read, and think, and be. Things that are remarkably uncomfortable when they haven’t been practiced in a while.

And it was again hidden grace that a book I ordered arrived just in time for this forced season of rest. I am already halfway through Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved, and getting this book is one of those events showing that God works in all things. I love even the title of this book. It’s not Life of the Good Social Worker or Life of the Vibrant Church Member or Life of the [insert a role you play], all great things, but all implying activity and doing. Life of the Beloved is about being loved, and even then it’s secondarily about me loving others and primarily about me being loved by Someone who is totally outside of myself, whose love is not conditional or dependent on me, whose love is everlasting and whole. That kind of love frees me from my expectations of myself, from my to-do lists, from the desire to numb myself to the areas where I think I’ve failed.

Anyway, I hope I get to share some things I’m learning from this book at some point in time. No promises, since I’m not adding things to my to-do list right now. For now, I hope you are encouraged to spend some time today knowing you are beloved by God.