Prepare Enrich

In preparing to be a para-professional counselor I am collecting "tools" in my counseling "tool box" that can assist in mentoring others. One of those tools has been to be trained as a Prepare/Enrich facilitator.

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"PREPARE/ENRICH is a customized couple assessment completed online that identifies a couple's strength and growth areas. It is one of the most widely used programs for premarital counseling and premarital education. It is also used for marriage counseling, marriage enrichment, and dating couples considering engagement. Based on a couple's assessment results, a trained facilitator provides 3-4 feedback sessions in which the facilitator helps the couple discuss and understand their results as they are taught proven relationship skills. There are several goals of the PREPARE/ENRICH Program. In order to achieve these goals there are exercises designed to help couples improve their relationship skills. The program helps couples: Explore strength and growth areas ; Strengthen communication skills ; Identify and manage major stressors ; Resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model ; Develop a more balanced relationship ; Explore family of origin issues ; Discuss financial planning and budgeting ; Establish personal, couple and family goals ; Understand and appreciate personality differences"

This program leads the way in helping couples explore and strengthen their relationships.

The main component of the program is an online survey each person in the couple complete. It's not just any survey. The items each person responds to are based on research and intended to help the couple identify the unique strengths and potential growth areas for their premarital or married relationship. PREPARE/ENRICH has been improved and refined over the years to become one of the best, most effective, easy-to-use relationship assessment tools available.

Prior to Kurt's and my marriage, God gave me 1 Peter 3:8-12 as a foundation to build a marital relationship upon. This passage helped prepare and enrich me for marriage and has been a flagstone to know how to walk in the way God would have me.

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For 'Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'"

Learning one's strengths and growth-potential areas personally and within a relationship can increase the strength and resiliency of the marital relationship.

Check it out - PrepareEnrich

Interesting Information about TCKs

I wanted to share some interesting information about Third Culture Kids (TCKs). "Third Culture Kids" (TCKs) describe kids who have spent a majority of their developmental years outside their passport country. TCKs integrate aspects of their birth culture (the first culture/passport country) and the new culture (the second culture), creating a unique "third culture."

Missionary Kids (MKs) typically spend the most time overseas in one country. 85% of MKs spend more than 10 years in foreign countries and 72% have lived in only one foreign country. MKs generally have the most interaction with the local populace, integrating themselves into the local culture; and the least interaction with people from their passport country. This makes it much harder for them to return to their passport country for college, a job, etc.

There are different characteristics that impact the typical Third Culture Kid:

  • Teenage TCKs are more mature than non-TCKs, but ironically take longer to "grow up" in their 20s.
  • 90% feel "out of sync" with their peers.
  • Lack a sense of "where home is" but often nationalistic.
  • Depression and suicide are more prominent among TCK's.
  • Some studies show a desire to "settle down" others a "restlessness to move".
  • TCKs are 4 times as likely as non-TCKs to earn a bachelor's degree (81% vs 21%)
  • 40% earn an advanced degree (as compared to 5% of the non-TCK population.)
  • 45% of TCKs attended 3 universities before earning a degree.
  • Educators, medicine, professional positions, and self employment are the most common professions for TCKs.
  • 90% report feeling as if they understand other cultures/peoples better than the average American.

You know you are a Third Culture Kid (TCK) when:

  • "Where are you from?" has more than one reasonable answer.
  • You've said that you're from foreign country X, and (if you live in America) your audience has asked you which US state X is in.
  • You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.
  • You have a passport but no driver's license.
  • You go into culture shock upon returning to your "home" country.
  • You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
  • You don't know whether to write the date as day/month/year, month/day/year, or some variation thereof.
  • The best word for something is the word you learned first, regardless of the language.
  • You get confused because US money isn't colour-coded.
  • You think VISA is a document that's stamped in your passport, not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.
  • You own personal appliances with 3 types of plugs, know the difference between 110 and 220 volts, 50 and 60 cycle current, and realize that a trasnsformer isn't always enough to make your appliances work.
  • You fried a number of appliances during the learning process.
  • You think the Pledge of Allegiance might possibly begin with "Four-score and seven years ago..."
  • You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.
  • You get homesick reading National Geographic.
  • You think in the metric system and Celsius.
  • You may have learned to think in feet and miles as well, after a few years of living (and driving) in the US. (But not Fahrenheit. You will never learn to think in Fahrenheit).
  • You haggle with the checkout clerk for a lower price.
  • You've gotten out of school because of monsoons, bomb threats, and/or popular demonstrations.
  • You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.
  • You think that high school reunions are all but impossible.
  • You have friends from 29 different countries.
  • You sort your friends by continent.
  • You have a time zone map next to your telephone.
  • You realize what a small world it is, after all.

Information resourced from : http://www.tckidnow.com/whats-a-tckid/

Davao Bombing

Many people have asked me about the safety of my family in Davao since the bombing that happened there on September 2.

The Philippine president, Mr. Dueterte, had been the mayor of Davao and made it a very safe place to live. He's now trying to do that throughout the nation and needless to say, some are not happy with that. There has been increased security at the malls in Davao since he was elected president. Threats have been issued about bombings.

We grieve with those who've lost loved ones in the bombing. We pray for those recovering from injuries sustained in that event. We are thankful for safety that none of our immediate family and friends were at that night market when the bomb went off.

As I read Psalm 46 this morning I was reminded,

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear....
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters his voice, the earth melts.  
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how He has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the chariots with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted 
among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" The Lord of hosts is with us; 
the God of Jacob is our fortress."

My mother's heart wants to gather my three children from Davao and bring them here with me. But I know that the school they attend has increased security, all the schools in Davao have. I know they will leave Davao if need be for missionaries to do so.

And there is peace resting in His promise that all the days of each of our lives are ordained and written in His book (Psalm 136: 16). His thoughts toward each of us are precious, more abundant than the sand (Psalm 136:18). He works all things for good as we grow in His way (Romans 8).

To read more about news and happenings in Davao, Philippines go to http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao

Thanks for praying for my family based in Davao.

Week 2 Transitions

It's been two weeks since we landed in the USA.

That moment I'm walking into a store and suddenly wondering which country and state I'm in.

A whirlwind of events and experiences have been transpiring. We feel exhilarated, thankful to be with family and friends, and very much like we are in a fog.

Transition is learning to be thankful where one is, in the moment. Appreciating past experiences, letting go of what was, keeping the connection alive with happy memories and momentos; learning to live in a different place, which often, at least initially feels like alien territory.

Kirsten opened a bank account last week and we were laughing about being certified aliens, she and I both have an "Alien Registration Certificate" card from the Philippines!

It's a good reminder that this world is not our home, our true home awaits us in our Abba's Kingdom.

In transition, we each embark on a journey of grief and joy, loss and hope, sorrow and rebirth.

There is joy in the journey as Michael Card sings. I thank God He is journeying Kirsten and I on this journey, much like many of the overseas foreign workers of the Philippines experience; gratitude for new opportunities, sadness missing those left behind. Skype and email are so refreshing in the ability to stay in contact with those half a world away.

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey....

Another transitional quote I agree with is this:

"I've come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call "The Physics of The Quest" - a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: "If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared - most of all - to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you." Elizabeth Gilbert

We miss our family in Davao. We are thankful for friends and family here.

Kirsten is working on learning to drive.

I love not be hot and sweaty all the time. I have more energy now that I'm out from under the blanket of heat and humidity.

...and so, our adventure begins...

Thoughts in Transition - part 1

One of our favourite movies is "We Bought A Zoo" and I've taken the title of this blog from a line we quote often, "...and so, our adventure begins."

A while ago I blogged about grace in the wilderness as my daughter and I transition to the USA. I thought I'd do something a bit brave and daring, different, and share some of my journal reflections reflecting this grace in the wilderness.

Transition times are messy, filled with griefs and joys. And especially for my daughter who has left her home of the past ten years the griefs are significant, yet the hope and excitement are just as high.

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The transition out of high school and into either college or the work force is difficult for everyone. Even students raised in the US find themselves facing new challenges and undergoing major life changes during this period. But TCKs will be facing another monumental transition: that of reentering into American culture after leaving their home on the field. All of these changes can be overwhelming for students and parents alike. (tckinternational dot com)

So, here, from my journal over the past few days are a few selected thoughts for you all!

Day ? After 30+ hours of travel and transfers, switching 12 time zones, long flights with pleasant flight attendants, babies crying, friendly seat mates, blessings along the travel, it's hard to know which day of transition this is. I guess it's technically day 3 by the calendar. Travel started August 8. We landed 12 time zones later on August 9 but my body clock, being 12 hours ahead of the landing time zone states loud and clear it is August 10. So now the sleepy days to transition my body clock starts.

When I first moved to the Philippines in 2006 one of the first things that struck me was how noisy it is. The second thing that struck me was how dirty and run-down many things are.

Ten year later, upon arriving in the USA yesterday one of the first things that struck me was how quiet it is. The second thing that I noticed was how clean and kept-up everything is.

The airports we transitioned through outside of the Philippines also, very quiet. The USA one we landed at was eerily quiet for its large size. Hmmmm. I miss the noise!

This trip feels hard to me. And for my daughter, she is leaving her home. She's been here 10 years. The song, Lord on High, from Les Miserable, plays through my mind with lyrics to the current situation...

     Lord on High, hear my prayer, in my need, You have always been there.
     She is young, she's afraid, let her rest, Heaven-blessed.

     Bring her home, grant her friends, lead our course as this journey begins.
     Bring her peace, bring her joy, she is young....
     oh Dad, grant her peace, grant her hope, grant us safety on this journey we take...
     Daddy, hear my prayer, grant her peace...

Emotions are screaming in my body, missing my family left....over India....heart sad...boredom of flight. Crying baby, crying heart. Yet, excitement. Looking forward to helping K adjust to life in the USA, adventures, reconnecting with home church, friends, family....Daddy, on High, bring us all home to Michigan safely......

In USA: I awaken with anxiety sitting on my chest, a feeling of impending doom and opportunity. The toilet tissue and nose tissues feel so rich, thick, soft. I feel wasteful using them.

I have to watch lines now and not crowd. A couple times in the airport I failed to notice the “stop until called” signs for immigration and customs. One customs person was not happy with me for crossing the line before she called me. That is a Philippine habit I'll need to be aware of – lines, personal space.

Prices - $2.49 (about 150p) for a bottle of water....$4.40 (about 240p) for a cup of coffee....whoa......

That moment when I start brushing my teeth and wonder if the water is safe to use. Then the thought, "wait, I'm in Houston at my sister's and she has safe water."

This transition feels hopefully hard, do-able, teary, joyous, a great exercise in remaining flexible, adaptable, teachable....*

And so, our adventure has begun. We are thankful for a retreat/rest time with family in Texas - time to conquer jetlag, do some sight-see, enjoy time with an aunt/sister...

We are praising our Heavenly Dad from whom all blessings flow. If this blog feels scattered to you, it's intentional. Transition and jetlag are scattering events, hard to fathom coherently! Thanks for reading!