Category Archives: Life

It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green

No, I’m not talking about Kermit the Frog or saving the planet. I’m talking about the complex, hard-to-describe, beautiful, sometimes sad life that our kids know. 

It comes under the category of TCK, formerly known as MK…Third Culture Kid or Missionary Kid. 

TCKs have been integrally shaped by 2 or more cultures to the point that they can’t be defined by either one. They are some sort of conglomeration of the cultures. 

Charlie has been missing Zambia a lot lately. And even though we are 7 months into this transitioning-back-to-America business, I pulled out the activities workbook of Looming Transitions by Amy Young to find a fresh platform for talking about this “new” life with Charlie (and Sam). 

And I made some play dough. Then we got to work. 

Yellow play dough is Charlie in Zambia. Let’s talk about Zambia. What did you love? 

Sun, Castro our dog, working with Uncle Charles, my friends, riding my bike…

Blue play dough is Charlie in America. Let’s talk about our life here in America. What do you love?

Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, sleepovers, going on the boat, fishing, school, being able to look out the window at the cars that drive by…

You can mix the yellow and blue together now. What happens?

It makes green!

Mixing the yellow and the blue involves kneading and smashing and squashing. Each person has their own way of mixing the yellow and green together. Sometimes it happens slower for one person than for someone else. 

Sam got right to work mixing them. Charlie was more mindful.

The process of becoming green doesn’t always feel good. That’s the sadness and loneliness you feel sometimes. 

But it makes you into a very special person. 

If you think of it, we appreciate continued prayer as we walk this transitioning road and help our kids navigate the emotions of it all. It ain’t easy bein’ green!

I Wanted to be the Mother of Africa

Situation 1: When I went to Zambia as a 21-year old to work with street kids, I wanted to be a mom to all of the street kids in Africa.

As soon as I put my shovel to the ground, so to speak, I realized that my expectations were unrealistic and naive. But after over a year of working with a few kids, one of them said to me, “You love very nice.”

Situation 2: 50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered outside the Lorraine Motel. He was only 39 years old, and he only saw tiny bits of the change he labored for.

I have listened to some of the MLK50 Conference, put on by The Gospel Coalition, and have been moved – deeply. Convicted. Motivated. Encouraged. Please, please, please do yourself and your fellow man a massive favor by listening to these talks! (Some are still happening today, and all will be made available for free.)

This anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination in the midst of increased racial tension is no accident. This journey toward racial reconciliation has been going on a long time.

Putting it together: But what do Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial issues have to do with my desire to be the mother of Africa? I have learned something crucial – it’s one. Step. At. A. Time. One life at a time.

I want to see racial issues figured out today. I want my one act of kindness to my African American neighbor to result in healing and reconciliation of all racial tension. But that is unrealistic and naive. Just like my desire to be a mother to all African street kids.

Should I give up? No. Change happens one life at a time and, firstly, inside of me. And I need to be committed to doing 3 incredibly vital things.

Love. Love others as I love myself. As I love my children and family.

Speak up. To be silent is to oppose. So, speak. And I know that speaking up about racial issues will mean being unpopular. But this issue is in the heart of God.

Be kind. Reconciliation can happen through deeds of kindness.

There are loads of other things that could be said. Pray! Make friends with people who look different than me. Let them shape me. Ask them to tell their stories. Learn. Be humble. Repent. Get to know black history. The list goes on.

But, first, I need to love, speak up, and be kind. Would you join with me in this? It is “a mighty long journey.” But let’s join hands to help see God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Adapt (with more pics!)

As we prepared to leave Zambia last summer, we also began processing what our new life and ministry based in the States would look like. There would be changes, yes. And in our last blog, we talked about some of those changes. But how does one prepare for so many changes?

There are many great and very spiritual answers. But I keep coming back to this truth: being a missionary means being adaptable. We had countless opportunities to learn this over our 8 years in Zambia – when things didn’t go how we expected. Or 99.999% of life looked different than we’re used to. Or we were forced to live and cook and minister with less than we thought we needed. And the list goes on.

I remember telling some friends in Zambia just before we left that I was counting on this learned strength – being adaptable – to help get us through all the change. And now that we have been back in the States for 4 1/2 months (only?!), I can say that it has helped tremendously! All that stretching and growth wasn’t for nothing, and I’m confident that this is the tip of the iceberg with how God will use all the ways we were pulled and pushed and molded in Zambia to help both us and others.

Here are some pics of how we have been learning recently to adapt to our new home!

Hugging their snowman (who desperately needs to see a dentist!)

Going to Handel’s Messiah at the Basilica

We are often the only ones at the park, but it’s a great way for the boys to burn that energy!

Celebrating Christmas with our families

Celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday with all my siblings and their spouses!

School Christmas activities

Learning to love playing in cold weather

When life gives you snow, get out the shovel!

Playing with dump trucks and cement mixers in the snow

A great experience for Charlie and me to serve together

Serving the vulnerable with my family through Feed My Starving Children

Charlie’s new favorite discovery – mayonnaise! He and Sam are making their sandwiches…with way too much mayo!

Life as we know it in cold Minnesota – bundle up wherever we go!

Charlie said, “I want everyone to know that we are a Zambian family.” Donning their Zambians scarves and hats.