Truth4TCKs: My Plea to TCKs + ANNOUNCEMENT

I am a Third Culture Kid. I am ethnically American but have grown up in another country most of my life. I am a bridge between cultures and languages, not belonging to either side. 

A Third Culture Kid is by definition, “ a person who spends a significant part of his or her first eighteen years of life accompanying parent(s) into a country or countries that are different from at least one parent’s passport country(ies) due to a parent’s choice of work or advanced training.”

This kind of upbringing is increasing rapidly as the world globalizes. More and more people are moving overseas (wherever that may be), and their kids are moving with them. 

When one is raised in constant, daily contact with several cultures, it impacts them tremendously. They do not feel like they belong in one country, or people, or culture. 

Why does this matter? 

Because the increasing number of TCKs means an increasing number of Christian TCKs. 

Christian TCKs are a very unique, special group of people. They are passionate about the nations, love cultures and languages, and see the world a bit differently than their monocultural brothers and sisters in Christ. 

I want to encourage and challenge that group of people. 

Christian TCKs are given their unique upbringing by God for a reason. They understand multiple cultures, languages, and have a more global world view. They don’t belong in any one place, and so they feel as if the one place they will fully belong is in heaven. They see the differences between Christianity’s culture in various nations and often know how to spot ethnocentricity. TCKs act as cultural brokers, bridging two or more groups who normally wouldn’t understand each other. 

If someone is a follower of Jesus Christ and is a TCK, they cannot waste their God-given abilities. 

If you are a follower of Jesus and are a TCK, I repeat, you cannot waste your God-ordained abilities. 

You uniquely see the world. You are empathetic and diverse. You love many cultures and you love learning new ones. (Yes, learning culture is a thing, y’all.) You have such wonderful things given to you intentionally by your Father in Heaven. 

Please don’t waste them. Please choose to use those abilities for the glory of God and the good of others. The world needs people like you. 


Also, I have an announcement! I will be posting interviews soon that I have done with Christian TCKs. I’ll ask them about their struggles. We’ll be talking about the way their upbringing has molded them to see the world. And last but not least, how they’ve used their abilities to glorify God and impact others. I can’t wait for you to hear their stories. Ciao, my friends!


School photo created by drobotdean – www.freepik.com

An Ode to Languages

Languages are my love language. I know that sounds redundant, but it is true. I adore languages. There is something inherently special about them. 

Perhaps it is the way each language sounds. One is more efficient, one is strong, one is melodious. One sings with the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. One is matter-of-fact and blunt because it acts as a bridge language between immigrants and nations and cannot waste time with misunderstandings. 

Or perhaps it is the way each language has a story. How they morph over time through wars, colonization, peace, and neighboring peoples. You can trace each word back to something more ancient. Each has its own history and narrative.

Maybe it is the way language connects people. It gives them a voice and a way to express their emotions, opinions, and thoughts. When you learn a new language you enter a new world. You learn the phrases and the mannerisms that are unique to that realm. There are hundreds or thousands or millions of people that you now get to speak to who you could not have understood before. 

Maybe it is how I heard someone say the other day, that languages are power. The more you know, the more you can do. The more opportunities you have.

Perhaps it is that languages hold the culture and the music and the literature of centuries. They hold generations of peoples giving their children their tongue, like a costly inheritance with no cost.

Maybe it is the smiles I see on faces when people realize I can speak in their mother tongue. When they know I can understand them and hear them. Their feelings won’t be restricted within the boundaries of a second language half-learned. 

I am not so sure I can give one reason. But I know within the deepest places of my heart that there are reasons so good and lovely I do not need to question my passion. 

And so languages are my love language.

Truth4TCKs: Family is Home

I’m Close to My Family

For as long as I can remember, my mother has been my best friend. I might have not always called her that, but she has always been the one who knew me best, who loved me enough to tell me when I was wrong, who took joy in the things I delighted in. She has always shared her struggles with me and I with her. 

She has been my constant. 

And as I’ve grown up I’ve realized that I am extremely blessed. Not everyone has such a close relationship with their family. 

I owe this relationship in part to my Third Culture Kid upbringing. I have always felt like I haven’t had close friends my age… I have always had one or two, but then I would move schools, and we would stop talking. Finding friends was hard in a country that didn’t always adopt me, and foreign friends would come and go.

But Family didn’t. Family was always there. 

I would fly across the ocean and visit a country others called my “home.” I would see thousands of faces, travel, and eat food that I didn’t always get where I lived. 

I don’t know what I would have done without my family. They were my anchor. Family was the one thing I could run back to and find the way I left it.

I am not the only TCK who has felt like this. Actually, when asked where home is to them, many TCKs reply with the word “family.” 

TCKs & Childhood Development

In the book Third Culture Kids by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken, they talk about Barbara H. Knuckles’ model of the way all children grow up and form their identity. This model outlines three anchors, Family, Community, and Place, all of which mirror the child’s upbringing. 

Family teaches the child the ways of life, and gives them confidence, and loves them. They show the child how to interact with the community. 

Community shows the child how life functions, how people relate to each other, how people of different socio-economic standings relate in the culture. Community is constant in that it has a culture, it moves and interacts with the child and reaffirms what the family is teaching at home. 

Place is constant and has history and characteristics that influence the child and are the “stage” on which all of life happens. The child learns to navigate life in that particular place. 

These three things are also mirrors because they not only hold down the “tent” of childhood so the child learns how to do life, but they reflect things back on the child that the child then takes as a part of their identity: 

The child of a poor man is treated as less important by the community. The child then learns that he is less important than others. The idea is “reflected” upon the child. 

A mother gives her child attention and lets them choose what to have for dinner, and talks with them about their day. The child then learns that he can choose and he has something valuable to say. 

Place gives the child a sense of belonging and pride. They learn of the history and know the smells and the roads. They learn that they belong. 

Why Family Is Invaluable

And so for the TCK, every time they move, a family is the only anchor that remains constant. While the community and place around the child change and reflect different messages back upon the child, family is the one thing that reflects constant messages. And so the TCK goes to their family for the answers to questions such as “Who am I?” and “Do I matter?”.

It’s quite saddening that in this post-modern world the family unit is being disregarded. It is vitally important for every child, even more so for the TCK. This is why the TCK upbringing can have such a horrible effect on someone if the family unit was dysfunctional in any way. The child has no constant. 

Beautiful Relationships

Being close to your family is beautiful. These relationships have become the most important thing in my life. I know them better than anyone. When I love my family members, I learn to listen, to value others. 

Not only that, but I have gained a life-long friend in my mother. She won’t fade away when I move schools or houses. Even when death separates us, it will be momentarily. It will hurt, but it will hurt because of the deep and amazing love we have for each other. 

Dear TCK, if you feel like even your family hasn’t been constant, the first thing I would say is that I’m truly sorry. The second thing I’d say would be that you can still initiate, however awkward, conversations about things you are feeling and struggling with. 

The third would be, go to the Father and Brother you have in God. He is more constant than any family member ever could be. He understands the hardships of the TCK life better than you do and knows you intimately. 

You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139: 3-6)

He loves you and knows you and cares for you. Run to Him when you feel as if all is changing or you feel alone. He is the best kind of family. 

Truth4TCKs: I’m From… Heaven? – How The TCK Life Is A Blessing In Disguise –

The Confusion Of The TCK: Where They Are From

“So where are you from? “

I paused… Should I give them the long answer? Or the short one?

“Umm, I’m American.”

“Oh, cool.”

It was true. I am American – at least, that’s what my passport says. But I don’t feel like it. Not really. 

I have only lived there for a couple of years. Most of my life was spent in other parts of the world. 

So what? I am still American even if I grew up elsewhere, right?

Wrong. I grew up in a culture and environment very different from those of my cousins and friends in the States. 

I don’t feel patriotic. I am not as worried about American politics as they are. I don’t feel like America is as big of a deal as they crack it up to be. I don’t even think of America as home. 

So, where am I from? 

I don’t know. 

I am literally an in-between. I don’t belong entirely in any of the cultures in which I have lived. I do not belong to them, nor do they to me. I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK). 

Why Where We Are From Matters: Culture & Belonging

In the book Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, authors Ruth Van Recken and Michael Pollock talk about “cultural balance”. They say: “A sense of cultural balance allows (…) freedom. Once we have internalized a culture’s customs and underlying assumptions, or know who we are in relationship to this culture, an intuitive sense of what is right, humorous, appropriate, or offensive in any particular situation develops.”

When we have grown up in a certain culture, we know who we are in relationship to it. We know if and how we belong. Being rooted in a soil of relationships and community gives people a sense of identity and belonging. 

When we have not grown up in a culture, we do not know how to act or behave or react in a situation within that culture. It becomes more complicated if we have grown up in multiple cultures. We never know which one we belong in because we haven’t had the time to completely absorb the customs and assumptions. Thus the paradox of the TCK: we’re expected to belong in one culture, but we don’t. 

However, we don’t fit into the other cultures in which we have lived. We have moved too often to pick it up, or we have lived in a family who embodied a different culture than the one in which we did daily life.

Since someone who has cultural balance feels free within their society, they find their identity there. Rarely ever does a TCK feel at home. 

A Home with God

One of the most amazing things about the Word of God is that it applies to every single facet of life. This includes the struggles of the TCK. 

When a TCK does not feel as if they belong anywhere, they can be reminded of Hebrews 11: 13-16 and Philippians 3:20.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

There is a common theme in these two passages: as followers of Jesus, we do not belong to this earth. 

We belong somewhere else. 

Heaven.

Paul says in Philippians 3:19 about the people of this earth: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” When Jesus transforms the life of a wretched sinner, they no longer glory in their shame. They glory in the redeeming work of Christ. They no longer set their minds on earthly things. They set their minds on godly, pure, lovely things (Philippians 4:8)

I think that we could say there are two cultures: the culture of this earth and the culture of Heaven. 

We don’t belong in any way to the culture of the earth anymore. Instead, we live in accord with the culture of heaven, where our citizenship is. 

This is astounding news for the believing TCK. Although we might not feel like we belong in any country or national culture, we know there is one place in which we belong perfectly. A place in which we are loved perfectly by God forever.

What joy! 

Looking On The Flip Side

As my father likes to say, TCKs often feel that wherever they go, they are a dime short of a dollar. Then he’ll add with a smile, in reality, they are two dollars. 

Even though TCKs might not understand cultures 100%, they can understand them very well. Let’s say 90%. If they understand both sides of a cultural divide, they can act as bridges for those on either side of it.

TCKs get to live a multicultural life full of rich beauty and diversity. They grow up living among languages, different cuisines, various expressions of art, and values.

Also, TCKs can learn to be flexible and adapt no matter what the circumstance. This can be a helpful ability in life. What ordinarily might shock someone is less of a shock for the TCK. Flexibility is an asset that global businesses look for in employees.

Therefore, although the TCK may often feel rootless, without a secure national identity and a sense of belonging, they can make their weaknesses their strengths. They can help monocultural people succeed in their attempts at intercultural interactions. 

Rich Life and Hope

Third Culture Kids can feel like nomads. So did Abraham. He roamed the earth, not knowing where he was going, waiting for a better country. His faith was counted to him as righteousness. 

Dear TCK, have faith in the hope to come. You are a citizen of heaven and belong wholly there. Make use of the God-given talents your upbringing has allowed.

New Blog Series

Hello friends! I want to share with you something that has been on my mind for a while.

I am starting a blog series for Christian TCKs, written by a Christian TCK.

I want to encourage them. And I want to use my writing to do that.

But I know that I am not an expert on the subject. So I need to learn. I have already started doing this. I have currently read two books on TCKs, as well as doing research in the Bible about various topics.

But I can’t just wait until I finish research to write on the topic. Research never ends.

So I am launching a series called Truth4TCKs. You might have seen the term before on a couple of my posts. I have written on the subject before, but I’m making it a priority.

Here’s how it will work: I will be posting every week as I usually do, and the majority of the posts will be on TCKs and Biblical encouragement. (The intersection of the two.)

I might occasionally post something about different subjects. However, as of today, my primary focus will be writing for and about Christian TCKs.

If you have been enjoying my posts on other topics and can’t really relate to my TCK related posts, I am sorry. However, I feel that this is where the Lord is leading my writing.

I want to ask you a favor. If you know any TCKs, please tell them about this series. I want to reach as many TCKs as possible with my writing, to encourage them because there is honestly not much of it going around.

Thank you all so much. In relation to this series, I will be posting little snippets with the hashtag #truth4tcks on my Instagram handle, so if you want to share my writing, sharing those posts on social media would be an amazing and easy way to get the word out.

Wretches in the Midst of Sanctification

Temptation is sneaky. It creeps up on you at the moment you least expect – but should have been expecting all along. 

We are so short-sighted. 

I had been taking small steps for a long time. Indulging myself in little things that didn’t seem important. They felt good because they were a way to escape my restlessness. They didn’t seem like a sin. They were just feelings.

But then, my flesh saw an opportunity – saw how weak I had been becoming – and struck. 

I failed the test.

We don’t realize how wicked we are ninety-nine percent of the time. But then you fall flat on your face, caught in the middle of a wretched act. You stand distraught in front of your rebellion. 

We are rebellious creatures. We desire worldly, sinful, dirty, lowly things. We look defiantly into the face of God and choose them over Him.

Yet we don’t see it. We think we are holy. We think we are righteous, good people. We compare ourselves with others and think we are doing better.

Down inside, we are all utterly rebellious and wretched. The sinfulness is always there, we just don’t notice it.

Why are we so self-righteous? That’s not what Jesus called us to be.

Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs. Clean on the outside. Rotten on the inside.

 At times like this, it’s discouraging because I see my utter darkness and wonder if I’ll ever be sanctified. Jesus has promised to sanctify us in this life, to an extent, and then fully in the next. 

We are all being sanctified – but that doesn’t mean we are sanctified. 

Think about that.

Paul expresses his disgust at this paradigm in Romans 7:21-24:

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 

We want to serve Him, and yet our flesh doesn’t. Who will deliver us from our state?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:25)

Through Jesus Christ, although we are sinful and wretched, our sins are atoned for. We are washed clean, presented to God the Father as holy and blameless.

In His eyes, we are holy. 

What mercy!

So how do we deal with the sin that won’t be destroyed until our Savior returns? The more we notice our sin, I think that’s a sign that we are being increasingly sanctified. The older you get, the more you notice your sin. Perhaps it’s like getting closer to the blazing glory of God, and the closer you get you see your blemishes more clearly.

The sin is lessened, but it becomes increasingly visible.

And that is mercy as well. The more we notice our sin, the more we realize the vast distance between God and us. How far He had to go to save us. He had to lay down His own life – the most valuable thing in the universe.

When we are shown this monstrous contrast, we fall humbly before God’s feet, thanking Him for the work of His Son.

Because we are nothing, and He is everything. When we acknowledge that, we are free to live as what we are: wretches saved by the grace of God.

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him”

Colossians 1:17-22

Fifteen Blog Tour

Hello dear friends! Today, I have the immense honor of hosting a part of Amie Anne Woleslagle’s Blog Tour & Scavenger Hunt for her new poetry book, Fifteen, which releases on October 23rd! I got to interview her about herself and her book, and I am so happy, practically struck by stars, to be able to share this with you.

I’m happy because I need a book like this. I struggle with thoughts in my mind – dark shadows floating and piercing – and poetry is such a beautiful way to shine a light into people’s hearts.

Also, here is the beautiful cover:


Hello Amie Anne! I’m so glad to have you as a guest on my blog! First of all, if you could describe yourself with four words, what would they be? *Also I really love your name, it’s so unique and beautiful.* 

Awe, thank you. I think I would describe myself as loyal, ingenuitive, dedicated, and vivacious.

Also, what’s your favorite flavor of tea, or if you aren’t a tea person, go-to Starbucks drink?

See, I love both tea and Starbucks, so I shall answer both. My favorite flavor of tea is lemon at the moment, though it changes. I also love chai, Irish breakfast, English breakfast, and Earl Grey. 

Can you give us a quick description of your book?

Absolutely! “You’re not the only person who struggles with mental health issues, not the only person with demons floating in your mind. Fifteen is a book of poems crafted from one teenager dealing with mental health issues to another teenager in the same place. It covers true friendships, embracing joy, self acceptance, and living your faith while struggling with mental illness, all the while showing that, in the end, flowers will bloom in the ashes of your pain.”

Why did you write this book and what was the process like?

I wrote this book as a project given to me by a friend, and then it snowballed from a freebie for my email list to a book that I’m publishing. Definitely not where I saw it going, but I believe God knew just where it needed to go and who needs to read it. 

What has been the funnest (that’s a word) part of the process?

Definitely connecting with people. It’s been such a wild ride, but it’s been amazing to be able to connect with authors and readers alike.

What has been the hardest part?

Not giving in to the anxiety. I’ve never done all of this, and every step of the way there’s been these crippling fears and moments where I just want to scream because I. Don’t. Know. What. I’m. Doing. But God’s been there, and He’s given me grace and people to help me through this. 

Who/what has been the most influential in the creation of this book?

There are so many life experiences and people who have influenced this book. Each of the poems speaks to a different experience and different lessons learned thanks to different people.

What are your plans/dreams for the future?

*laughs* Well, those don’t really exist once the new year appears, so I guess everyone (including myself!) shall just have to see. 


If this hasn’t gotten you excited, I don’t know what will. I am so thankful to have been part of the tour. I have already gone and pre-ordered the book, and you should too! 

You can pre-order the paperback copy here, and the e-book copy here. If you pre-order it, you can sign up for some beautiful pre-order goodies that will be sent to your doorstep! You can fill out the form for the goodies here

Peace by Storm

I am tired, frustrated, and restless. I guess this year was not what any of us expected. I know that’s an understatement.

I just – feel so tired. Physically, spiritually and mentally. I don’t feel peace.

However, God’s truth and love triumph over my feelings. I know that. Then why can’t I bring myself to bathe in the Word?

Why, oh my soul, do you not just breathe and give thanks?

Praise Him, oh my soul! Bless Him.

I thank the Maker of the skies for a blanket of dark blue clouds heavy with rain. I will thank Him for the rain that is yet to come.

I thank the Maker of the birds for the soaring wings of seagulls. They don’t worry or fret. They soar, held up by His hand.

I thank the Maker of the storms for the lightning far away and the gray rolling in. I thank Him for the silence that has hushed all creation before He roars with thunder.

I thank the Maker of the winds for the gentle cool breeze, bearing whispers of a strong loud gale to come.

I thank the Maker of the storms for the thunder I now hear. For the power to be displayed. I thank Him for the reminder that He is. He is.

Hush my soul, be still. He is nearer than you know. Trust Him. He is faithful, it is so.

Rumble. Deep and full. The thunder is His voice stilling my soul. He is powerful and mighty.

The dark gets darker. But I am not afraid.

Even the bird scurries to hide for cover from the oncoming rain. It’s coming.

White. Flash. Like God took a photograph. It’s bright and nothing stands in its way, lighting up all. As to crash down into a busy world and say: “Look! Look! Look!”

Up. The blue patches become scarce as the pregnant clouds form a deep, dark wall. Thick.

The clouds are the backdrop. White flashes through and lights up the wall in purple and blue.

Boom. The thunder yells.

The first drops fall.

Birds scurry.

Windows close.

The long-awaited blessings stream down.

The thunder becomes deeper and louder and closer. The cracks of electricity rip apart the clouds with light.

The rain flows earth-ward.

The hum of raindrops hitting the ground fills the air and it grows louder. It whispers… and shouts. Be still.

Be still.

All are drenched in wet and peace.

The air is full of heavenly waterfalls.

Lavender – neon light fills up the sky.

A display of majesty.

Long-awaited silence.

Hush my soul, be still. He is nearer than you know. Trust Him. He is faithful, it is so.

My Newest Endeavor: Organization and Productivity

When I started up school about a month ago, I knew I was in for a challenge. I had just discovered the world of online writing. I was excited and had posted biweekly on my blog all summer long. I had big plans. Then I realized that school was coming up. What had started as a summer hobby had become a passion, and I didn’t want to stop. 

How was I going to maintain my writing while juggling eleventh grade? I’m not homeschooled. I don’t have the most flexible schedule in the world. Then it hit me. The one major area I lacked in was organization.

Organization: Why It Doesn’t Come Naturally To Me

I am a creative and spontaneous person. My mother will be the first one to tell you that I’m horrible at finishing what I’ve started. I always have a new project to work on. I get so excited about the project that I don’t strive to complete the first one. She’ll also tell you that I think deeply, and she has me repeat instructions to make sure I’ve heard them. Otherwise, I’ll continue on in my own world without realizing what she’s said.

With a personality like that, you can do great things, but you also have many struggles. You guessed it, a significant one is organization. With such a spontaneous personality, I am apt to forget, get lost in some thought or activity, or be lazy. Often because I think a structured schedule would be too hard to maintain. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, it’s that it’d be especially demanding and difficult. 

Organization: Why It Matters

I could just say, “Well, I’m bad at organization. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not one of those people.” Most of society would accept that excuse. After all,  (1) I’m a teenager, and (2) it’s not part of my “personality”. Why in the world would I try?

My writing instructor on YWW (the Young Writer’s Workshop), Brett Harris, encourages teens to rebel against the low expectations the world has for us. My thought was that I couldn’t organize, schedule, and plan easily and therefore I shouldn’t be expected to ever be successful in that area. 

But I needed to answer God’s calling to take on responsibility. I was being lazy. I was making excuses for myself. That’s not the kind of Christian I want to be. 

Productivity and organization isn’t about getting more done. On the surface, yes, that’s the goal. However, what I am learning is that our ultimate goal in organizing our time, energy, and productivity is to serve others as we glorify God. If I have done everything on my to-do list but haven’t served others or done it to the glory of God, it’s been a wasted day. 

That’s a huge struggle. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I waste my day. I’m lazy, or I am productive but for wrong reasons. I want to belong, or be known, or make a mark. 

But what if work and productivity was about creating beauty, serving others, and learning to be humble? What if organization was a tool to be a good steward? What if I was gifted in a certain way so that I could bless others and point them to Christ – not so I could draw attention to myself? What if my driving force in everything I did was that I was not my own? That the Creator has given me a tiny piece of His clay to help shape?

Organization and Productivity: What I’ve Done To Achieve It

I am just starting this journey. I am not an expert on the top five ways to structure your week or what timers you should be using. 

However, there are tiny steps I have been implementing in my days and weeks. Every little thing helps. Here’s what I’ve done so far…

  1. I’ve started a morning routine. My ideal morning routine looks like this: I get up at 6:30 am, make my bed, grab a cup of tea, and sit on the balcony to have devotions. After a half an hour or 40 minutes, I sit down to write for 15 minutes. This 15 minute writing session was inspired by Cassie Watson, a fellow YDubber who’s been doing a class on productivity. Although I often fail to implement this step, when I do, it’s extremely rewarding. I find that I have a ton of mental energy in the mornings so my writing sessions are more productive than a 30 minute session after school. I then go on to have breakfast, get dressed, and sit down for online school.
  1. I’ve bought a paper planner. People structure their time in different ways, but I decided to buy a paper planner this year, and I’m so glad I did. I’m still figuring out all the ways I can use it but it’s helpful to have all your organization & to-do lists in one place. It’s also aesthetically pleasing – a.k.a. happiness.
  1. I’ve made an ideal week schedule. Also inspired by Cassie Watson, I’ve created a Google Sheets schedule of what an ideal week of mine would look like, from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm. It’s color coded, and I have school, lunch, writing sessions, breaks, family time, and other things planned out in blocks. The idea is to plan my actual week around this schedule. I’ve yet to do this – it is a recent addition to my productivity endeavor – but I’m hoping to use it next week, and if I stick to it, for months after that. 

Those are three things I’ve tried to do to help myself out, but there are many other tricks and tips. I’d love to chat with you all about organization and productivity. What do you do to manage your time? What does your schedule organization look like? 

A Lesson For Young People from Crime and Punishment

This summer, I had to read Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky as assigned reading. When I first started the book, I was frustrated, because it seemed like a boring and useless way to spend my summer. (And that’s coming from someone who likes books.) But about halfway through, things started to make sense and I began to enjoy it. 

The novel isn’t called a classic for no reason. The characters are masterpieces in and of themselves. It is known as one of the first psychological thrillers. Although some parts really were thrilling, it was the psychology that intrigued me.

In case you’ve never heard of this book, I’ll give you some background. The story is about a young Russian student who decides to quit college because he is poor and can’t afford it. He then contemplates killing a horrid pawnbroker who cheats people out of their money. The money-desperate student hates the idea and pushes it to the back of his mind. However, over time, he can’t get rid of it. He ends up killing her and the rest of the book is about his conscience and the way the murder affects him and his relationships. 

In the story, the young man has a theory about humankind. To explain it quickly, he divides humanity into two groups: the inferior group, and the superior group. Inferior humans have to abide by the law and have little value. They follow whatever the superior humans do. The “superiors” have the right to kill to accomplish their goals. This right isn’t a legal one, it’s just something that is necessary to bring actual change to the world. His example is Napoleon: according to the young man, Napoleon brought great change to society, but he did it through slaughtering thousands. Was it necessary? In his eyes, yes. 

So that’s his theory in a nutshell. It’s also what he uses to justify his murder of the pawnbroker at first. Throughout the story, he grows more and more aware of, and at the same time more and more resentful to the fact that his theory was wrong. He doesn’t want to admit that he isn’t superior, and his theory itself isn’t valid. 

In the last couple of paragraphs of the book, the young man is in a prison camp. He’s gone through excruciating hardship, which was his own fault, and he is looking into the future. He realizes he loves someone and he wonders what life will be like when he gets out of prison. (And to find out who that someone is, you’ll just have to read the book. She’s one of my favorite characters.)

And then there’s this line:

“Life had taken theories’ place.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about that sentence for weeks. 

How many young people have theories? How many young people are passionate about the ideas they have? How many young people get in arguments and riot and yell – all because they cling to a “theory”?

The answer to those questions is quite obvious: most young people have theories or ideas and are passionate about them. Myself included. 

But here’s the thing: only ideas grounded in life experience and wisdom will stand the test of time. 

And here’s the dilemma: young people don’t have life experience. At least, not that much of it – we think we know a lot more than we actually do. 

So how do we fix this? How do we make sure that our ideas aren’t baloney? How do we make sure our theories are well-grounded and that we are fighting for the right things?

To that I have two answers:

  1.  The Bible
  2. People who are much wiser than us 

God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

Colossians 2:2b-3

Ultimate wisdom and truth are found in Christ. When we root ourselves and are built up in Him (Colossians 2:7), we will gain wisdom. The more a young person is hiding God’s truths in their heart, the wiser they become. This is an amazing privilege because as teenagers and twenty-somethings, we don’t have that much life experience or personally-gained wisdom. However, if we hide God’s Word in our hearts, we will become much wiser than the average young person.

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.

Proverbs 4:1-5

Wisdom is a treasure. According to Proverbs, one of the places we can find that treasure is our parents. They have more life experience than us and they are wiser than us. We should be quick to listen to their words. 

Young people should also be listening to other people around them who are wiser. Teachers, grandparents, wise (and perhaps older) friends, elderly believers, pastors, mentors, etc. We all have people in our circles who we can listen to and learn from. 

The young man in Crime and Punishment discovered that life is much more reliable than mere theories. Real experiences are more valuable than intangible ideas. Wisdom is gained as one gains years. 

Dear young person, you don’t know everything. You actually know much less than you think. Be humble. Be quick to listen. Learn from wise and godly people around you. This will serve you far more than any endeavor for a theory or cause. 

Then maybe we’ll become wiser, earlier.