Grace in the Wilderness

Transition, TCKs, OFWs

Kirsten and I leave the Philippines soon to journey to the USA. I can't say we are moving "home" because "home" isn't one place for us any more. Kirsten will settle into the USA, I'll be flying between "homes" for a while.


Part of the truth of third-culture-kids (TCKs) is that their heart home is most likely not their passport country, and family can be spread over continents. The Internet, Skype, and international cell phones makes conversation and staying in touch a bit easier but also can pull at heart-strings, making conversations bittersweet.

"Often the TCK lives with a sense of being "in the middle." Some years ago a college student named Ruth Goring wrote an essay entitled "I Am Green." She said that she was neither the "blue" culture of her passport county nor the "yellow" culture of the host country. She was somehow a mix of the two.

There are other people who find themselves caught in a crack between passport and host countries. They are touched by both and identify with both, yet without a sense of being owned or owning either one.

In either case, TCKs often find they are at home everywhere and nowhere, all at the same time. Home may always be elsewhere, and a sense of rootedness at any point of geography may be unknown. One learns to adjust, survive, and succeed, but the sense of "place" is elusive." (Raising Resilient TCKs. Editor, Joyce Bowers)

Kirsten is taking a 'gap-year-in-reverse' as she and I are calling it. Most students take a gap year to live abroad, help in missions, explore career opportunities; Kirsten's gap year will consist of learning her passport country culture and ways, exploring colleges and career options, learning to drive, visiting relatives and friends, working part time, etc.

It's all a bit weird, this season of our lives.

It feels a bit like a wilderness to me.


Words fail to describe the "halo-halo" (mix-mix) of emotion and pulling family needs.

We are a bit like the many overseas foreign workers (OFWs) that leave the Philippines to work elsewhere. Part of the family stays in the Philippines while a member or two travel abroad to work.

No matter where any of us are, though, there is a calm in my heart that my Abba ordains my ways and the ways of each of us in this family (Psalm 16:11). He is caring and guiding and leading. As Jeremiah says in chapter 31, we find grace in the wilderness (v. 2), and we rest in His love and faithfulness (v. 3).

Part of that grace is exemplified in the niches God provides each of us: Mikayla is teaching English part-time at Faith International. She is gaining practical skills to accompany her dual-degree in upper education (middle school - high school) and English. Ben is in high school and on sports teams. He excels in the sciences, maths, and athletics. James is schooling at home under Mikayla's tutelage as well as taking specials at FIA in art, music, and PE. He will also soon start flute lessons, an instrument he's been wanting to play for several years now. Kurt is providing much-needed software to maternity clinics that serve the poor. His work is fulfilling to him and to those served. All graces from our loving Abba.

Soon, Kirsten and I will board a plane to the USA. Kirsten has no plans to return to the Philippines as she transitions forward to college and life in her passport country. I'll be returning to the Philippines in about 5 months and then return to the USA late April 2017 to finish my masters degree "if the Lord wills"....(James 4:13-15)

All is well to rest in His grace that He provides. He tenderly exudes His everlasting love in the variety of ways He leads, in the seasons He leads each of us through. It truly is grace. And as His child, I give Him thanks in all things (1 Thess. 5:18).

Lead on, O King eternal;
we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning
where'er your face appears.
Your cross is lifted o'er us,
we journey in its light;
the crown awaits the conquest;
lead on, O God of might.