The Road Home

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 6.49.17 PM

{click here to watch the full film}

The other night, I watched a short film made by a TCK and written about a TCK, called “The Road Home.” Lizzy was the one who first found it through this review from Denizen  and we both thought the film was beautiful and thought-provoking. Since it was a short (only about 25 minutes), it was more of a discussion opener than a deep delve into the TCK psyche.  The main character is a British-Indian boy who struggles with accepting both of his cultures. It made us wonder if it’s possible to only live in one culture, to flip the switch between two worlds. I know that my brother has always been able to do that – speaking flawlessly in Italian to following the latest American trends – but is it positive? Is it possible to ignore and shut out the influence part of your life has had on you? The film sought to loosely answer this question, which we had a great time discussing over Skype.

Lizzy: In the film, the line my heart responded most to was the free-flowing, French backpacker-hippie’s announcement to the boy: “You can be both.” Pico, a British kid with an Indian appearance, considered himself exclusively British. He fought to make everyone else believe he wasn’t Indian and eventually developed doubts himself. For me, “The Road Home” brought up the question of choice. Can I choose how much Chinese and how much American is inside me? Can I choose just one or the other? Do I already try to? I think I try to have a lot of control over the parts of my identity as they make up the whole, measuring and dividing them. I think I often want to choose how much and how little, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other TCKs compartmentalized the effects their countries have had on them in the same way.

In sum, we came up with three major takeaways:

1. It’s ok to be angry when you feel frustrated and confused with your TCK story. 2. You can’t always just choose one culture to live in. 3. Live in the present; live where you are.

I hope a full-length film is developed from this – I’d love to see more TCK themes explored against the sweeping backdrop of rural India. We recommend you check out the film by clicking the link!

Advertisements

Year in Review

2013 blog 1

blog 2013 2

blog 2013 3

Happy New Year!

It’s been a busy year on the blog – here are our top 10 posts from 2013!

1. DIY Sweater

2. 3 Lessons from Tarzan

3. Accepting Transition

4. A Guide to Florence, Italy

5. Bologna Travel Diaries: New Beginnings

6. A Different Approach to Valentine’s Day

7. 5 Things: The Culture Shock Edition 

8. The Case for Mission Trips 

9. 10 Things to Do with a Barf Bag

10. When You’re a Third Culture Kid

Renewing Your Heart: Distractions and Busyness

michaela mini series

Billboards, background noise, school, smartphones, our seven favorite TV shows, a social life, infinite extracurricular activities, THE INTERNET. With such full lives, we can often feel over-stimulated and not as good at multi-tasking as we wish we were. None of these things are inherently bad, but added all together they make for a crazy chaotic existence with no breathing room whatsoever. And I don’t know about you, but I rarely hear from God when I am already striving to divide my attention by twenty-five other tasks and distractions. I hear him in the quiet when I turn off the radio, hide my phone and put my life on pause. As much as I like to think I can do everything well at the same time, I can’t. Multi-tasking doesn’t lead to success in all the things, it only leads to mediocrity in a few of the things.

Trust me, I understand what it means to be a teenager in today’s society. We are made to think that if we are not sleep-deprived, stressed out and caffeine-dependent, that there is something wrong with us. That we are lazy and that we are most certainly wasting our potential because we are not willing to work ourselves to death. Can I take the liberty to say that that is a lie from the pit of hell? We were not made to live that way. We were made to work hard with our hands in God’s creation and in the home, and then rest. We were made to sleep way longer than we actually do. We were made to have peace in our hearts because of God’s promises, not stress and anxiety because of man’s expectations.

I was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and they had this video that grabbed my full attention. The film was animated, with no dialogue, and it portrayed this man dying in a hospital bed. When they showed the insides of his body, he was comprised of objects that represented stress instead of organs. His stomach was a ringing telephone, his heart was a ticking clock and I think there was a typewriter somewhere in there. The point of the video was that his cause of death was not necessarily a specific disease, but stress.

I can definitely relate to this conclusion because I have realized how many of my health problems are exacerbated by stress. I have really been working on learning how to fight a workaholic society’s expectations and find true rest and listen to God’s voice.

If you are thinking that this sounds great, but you don’t know how to slow down, here are some practical tips that have helped me.

  1. Limit TV show series that you are trying to keep up with to 1 or 2 at a time. Make sure they don’t drag you down with stressful drama or unwholesome morals.

  2. Delete social media apps from your phone and block them on the internet browser on your phone using parental settings.

  3. Set up something like the Cold Turkey program on your computer so that it can block distracting websites for a certain period of time.

  4. Practice being alone. Just you and God and maybe a pen and paper.

  5. Use time that you spend in the car anyway as a time for reflection and prayer. Sometimes I turn off the radio and talk to God out loud. It’s so fun!

  6. Practice focusing on one thing at a time. I used to feel anxious if I was watching a movie and not doing something else at the same time. I’ve had to learn how to be okay with just enjoying what I’m doing and finishing it before I go to the next thing.

//////////

This is part 2 in Michaela’s new mini series, Renewing Your Heart. Look for more soon!

MK2MK Goes to Thailand

Thailand-3-final-1024x446

{source}

I’ve been involved in an awesome ministry called MK2MK for the past six years. MK2MK stands for “Missionary Kid to Missionary Kid” and is a resource for TCKs. Every summer, they take high school TCKs on a mission trip and this year they are going to Thailand! I’ve been to Ethiopia and South Africa with them and both trips taught me so much. I grew in my faith, learned so much about myself, and met amazing life-long friends. It also was encouraging to be around so many other TCKs and realize I was not alone in that.

If you’ve never been on a mission trip or not sure what you think about them, I’d encourage your to read a two part series I wrote last year about the importance of short term mission trips: part 1 and part 2.

Click here for more information – you should apply! 🙂

Opportunity Hides in the Belly of the Drink Cart

a78ae8990c3aba23e0ea7c8f600d9191

{source}

I am always loyal to my traditional choice of apple juice while flying. At least, I was, until the other day on Delta I spied a can of Minute Maid Cranberry Apple Cocktail peeking its shiny head out on the third shelf of the drink cart. The entire time the cart rolled toward me, I just wanted the attendant’s blue pencil skirt to move out of the way so I could view the whole drink selection! It didn’t. Flight attendants wouldn’t take kindly to being asked to recite the list of drinks, either.

But to give up there would be to ignore an important fact: there are always open cans.

On the shelves, flight attendants store half empty containers of beverages so they don’t waste. No, not half empty—half full. The volume of the can does not match the volume of the cup. What I’m saying is that it’s time for you to branch out with your drink choices. Ask the flight attendant to MIX THEM.

If you’re a very savvy flier, you can search airline websites ahead of time for a list of drinks that will be served. You’ll find blogs from hundreds of other travelers playing the game, too. Why go to the trouble? There are a few reasons. You’ve been on so many planes, you deserve to get the most out of your flying experience. It’s also important to celebrate the little things and the long travels. Who knows, your most cherished American beverage could be available, or an odd, obscure, international item that you just need to try. Don’t miss out.

And to be honest, we don’t get to order alcohol. Haven’t you ever wanted to be like the smooth chick in the movie who impresses the bartender by easily rattling off her complicated order? Have the satisfaction of delivering the awesomeness and knowing you’re one step ahead of the airplane game.

Of course, there’s no telling how the flight attendant will respond, especially if you ask for something that’s too complicated. But remember, the cans are always open. And when the cans are open, customer service and satisfaction will be victorious.

Renewing Your Heart: Pull out the Drano

michaela mini series

I have a confession to make. I think I might be slightly addicted to weeding, cleaning out drains, and throwing away everything that doesn’t mean anything. There is just no feeling that compares to the reward of getting rid of extra, whether it be plants, hairballs, or trash.

Lately, I’ve been really striving for getting rid of the junk that so often clutters my heart. I never realized how many things I allow to come in and crowd out a completely radical, deep, consuming relationship with my Creator, Savior, and Lord. I began to notice that sin isn’t the only thing that Satan uses to try to wiggle his way in and steal my joy. There are bad attitudes, melancholy feelings, doubts, distractions constantly trying to drown out the Holy Spirit speaking into my life. Just as weeds crowd out beautiful flowers or extra stuff lying around makes life more complicated, our hearts begin to clog up and we feel stagnant, frustrated and disconnected from our Source of life.

I remember getting so angry when I couldn’t easily sense God’s direction and love and peace and I would frantically confess my pride, bitterness etc… to fix it. But there still wasn’t any room in my heart for the Lord to freely move and work. He wanted me to do the dirty work of figuring out what the clutter was, and then getting rid of it.

I am writing this series as I learn, so I certainly do not have all the answers. But hopefully together we can discover the things that have taken up residence in our hearts that drown out God’s voice, and then remove them bit by bit. I can’t wait to see the freedom and joy the Lord will bring!

////////////////

Over the next few weeks look for the rest of Michaela’s mini series!

 

Thanksgiving in Scotland

I went to high school with Rebecca and she recently moved to Scotland for college so I asked her to share what it was like celebrating her first overseas holiday…

///////

b974d59a22a878f6ecb6b8e00c862c29

{source}

This Thanksgiving was the first time I had ever been away from my family on a holiday. Beyond not being home in Austin with my family, I celebrated the holiday in my dorm at the University of St Andrews in eastern Scotland. Thanksgiving is a uniquely North American holiday (the Canadians celebrated in October), which left me on my own with a few other American students to celebrate the holiday. We were hard pressed to find a can of pumpkin for pie, and pilgrim, turkey, and cornucopia decorations were none existent. In Scotland, people start getting ready for Christmas as soon as Halloween is over. Because of this, Thanksgiving rolled around without much ceremony; my roommate Courtney and I had already decorated our room with tinsel and stockings and had been listening to the Michael Buble Christmas album for a week and a half. Despite not feeling the Thanksgiving spirit (if that’s a thing…), Courtney, two other American friends and I decided to put on our own mini dinner and celebration Thursday night. We made baked sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, sat on the floor of our room, ate, and watched It’s a Wonderful Life.

It was a small celebration, but one that I was incredibly thankful for. Thanksgiving with my family is great, but after 17 years, it has become a tradition that revolves around food more than anything else. We may go around the table and say something that we’re thankful for, but ultimately my Thanksgiving in Scotland made me much more thankful than any one at home ever had. Being away from my family made me so much more thankful for them; I’m so lucky to have been blessed with such a fabulous family that I get to go home to for Christmas. I am so thankful for friends to share an important holiday with, and for the opportunity to share my traditions with my friends (my family always watches It’s a Wonderful Life on Thanksgiving because though it’s a Christmas movie, it’s about being thankful for your life and your family). I am thankful for the chance to study in the UK, for the people that I’ve met this semester, sticky toffee pudding, American peanut butter (yes, it’s completely different), Skype, a wonderful church here in St Andrews and at home, for my dog that I’ve had since I was 3, a great roommate, and countless other things.

Sure, I missed the stuffing, mashed potatoes and turkey, but I spent the night with some of my best friends being truly thankful for all that we have, both here in Scotland and back at home. My experience this year was much different than any Thanksgiving I’ve ever had, but it was honestly one of the best ones. I relearned what it means to dedicate a day to being thankful, and I think that’s the point of the holiday – to make us stop for just a day in the midst of our crazy lives to thank God for all that we have been given. Thanksgiving isn’t widely celebrated here in the UK, but in our dorm alone, several people hosted small Thanksgiving festivities. We got to introduce the holiday to our British and European friends, and bring a small piece of home to Scotland. I realized that though the feast and traditions are great, holidays are really about who you get to spend them with, and even as I missed my family, I couldn’t have been more grateful for our mini ‘friendsgiving’ and contemplating with my friends whether we want to marry George Bailey, or be him (if this reference is unclear, you obviously need to go watch It’s a Wonderful Life). I don’t know when I will next get to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, and as sad as that makes me, I know that it will be ok, because you can celebrate Thanksgiving anywhere and even if it’s small, you still have a lot to be incredibly thankful for. Our celebration hardly looked like an American Thanksgiving, but it was a day of giving thanks, which is close enough for us here in Scotland.

Perfecting the Daytrip – Picking the Right Outfit

Planning the perfect daytrip is an art – you have to pick the right outfit, pick the right city, and bring the right things. So that’s what we’ll be exploring this week…today: the perfect [fall] outfit. 

I think when it comes to traveling there needs to be three factors considered:

1) cuteness – you’ll be taking lots of pictures!

2) practicality – you need to be able to hike up cobblestone streets and climb up towers and sit on long rides!

3) warmth – with chilly fall temperatures, make sure you’re bundled up!

And now for your staples:

boots – leggings – scarves – sweaters – long socks

layer, layer, layer!

I hope this gives you some inspiration!

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 11.23.12 PM

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 11.46.39 PM

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 11.42.05 PM

What are your favorite fall outfits?