A TCK Interview: Life Long Love (Luke & Wendy – Part 2)

I had the privilege of doing an hour-long (!) interview with some friends of mine, an ATCK Christian couple: Luke & Wendy. I had so much fun talking to them… listening to their stories about identity, belonging, love and truth… This is the second part of a 3 part series that I will be releasing over several weeks. (If you haven’t read part one, you can here.) Have fun reading!


Breanne: Can you share your love story?

Wendy: Well, Luke and I met when we were in fifth grade.

Breanne: Actually, can you tell us about the onion-garlic conversation? It’s hilarious.

Wendy: Yes! I’m going to give a bit of pretext to this. So Luke’s family moved to the Czech Republic. I had gone through a tough year at the British School. I didn’t have any friends. Then we heard, “Hey, a family is coming here with kids about your age, and they are coming to your school and your church!” I was like, “Yaaaas!” Then they said, “It’s a boy that’s your age.” I thought, “Darn it! I’m ten. I don’t want to hear that.” I was kind of bummed—no offense Luke. Now I’m not bummed at all. I’m the opposite of bummed.

We met the Yurkoviches – they were so quiet! Our family is lively. So we’re in the van with them, driving to one of our houses once after church, and it’s so quiet. I didn’t know what to say. So I turned to Luke, and I was like, “Your name means onion in Russian.” And then he turns to me and is like, “Yeah… it means garlic in Macedonian.”

*Everyone laughs*

He looked so forlorn, like “I was made fun of in Macedonian, and you’re bringing it up now?!”, like “Why..?”

Breanne: So good… *haha*

Wendy: So he was like, “Yep… that’s me. Thanks for bringing that up. Not that it’s a sore spot or anything.” I believe those might have been my first words to Luke. Unfortunately.

We went to the same school. We actually sat next to each other in 5th grade for the first few months of the year. And then I made a best friend and had a lovely time.

Luke doesn’t remember this, but his friends would tease me about liking Luke and tease him about liking me. I don’t really know why. There was a time when he and his friend were talking, and his friend stood up and was like, “WENDY! LUKE WANTS TO DANCE WITH YOU!” We had this valentine’s dance. And I responded with a sassy “No, he doesn’t!” and was really awkward about it. Luke does not remember this at all. His friend kept teasing me, and then I pushed him into a mud puddle. I was like, “Take that, Fran!” His name was Fran. Who names their kid Fran?

*Everyone is laughing hilariously at this point*

Luke like never spoke to me again for the rest of the year. I was thinking to myself, “I have made a horrible mistake. He might have liked me, but now he hates me because I pushed Fran into a mud puddle.”

I don’t know if Luke actually liked me in fifth grade. I don’t know if he even knows.

Luke: I don’t think I thought about it.

Wendy: No, I don’t either.

Breanne: You’re not that self-aware in fifth grade.

Wendy: No, you aren’t… It was a weird environment, though, where people asked people out and gave people chocolate and flowers…

Luke: It was like, the class… well not just the class, the whole vibe of the school was “What is the new drama?” If you were somebody who had like no drama, they would try and make it so that you had drama.

Breanne: Oh my goodness, tell me about it… That’s literally all my middle school years.

Wendy: For real… So I remember it was a rainy day. Luke was cupping his hands over Fran’s mouth, trying to get him to shut up. And Fran was like, “WENDY! WENDY!” And then I pushed him into a mud puddle. It was all very traumatizing. I did write about it in my journal. I was very proud of myself for pushing him in a mud puddle like he deserved… but enough about that. That is not the most crucial part of our story.

Luke: *haha*

Wendy: After that one year, I moved to the Christian international School in Prague, and Luke stayed at the British School. And I began to miss him, and my other friends, especially my best friend. But I also missed Luke. I would look forward to seeing him on Sundays. And I would think, “Why do I miss Luke? That’s weird.” By seventh grade, I definitely had a crush on Luke. And that um, continued, um, until this present moment.

*Luke silently laughs to himself*

Wendy: So in ninth grade, he came to the international Christian school, and life looked up a little bit from there. You want to take it from here?

Luke: Sure. I looked forward to going to that school. A lot of my friends were there. They were friends who weren’t super into the drama… at least sort of.

Wendy: At least it was wholesome.

Luke: For the most part. *haha* But anyway, there were friends that I looked up to. Wendy was one of them. I wanted to be with all those cool people. I was quite excited. I remember being on the bus sitting next to you. And you were like, “So what are you doing next year?” I said, “I’m actually going to CIC! (the school),” and you were like, “OH MY GOSH THAT’S SO GREAT!” and I was like, “YES I KNOW RIGHT?!!”

Wendy: I could barely hold in my excitement. I was so happy. 

Luke: Yeah, so I spent some time at the school. We were in the same class together and had a lot of random interactions. 

Breanne: As classmates do. 

Luke: Yep, by the time our junior year came around, there came a time when we had gotten back from a homeless outreach with our youth group. We were sitting at this McDonalds, as you do at 10 at night. Wendy asked me if she could talk with me.

Wendy: My heart was beating so fast.

Luke: She told me, “I feel these certain things. I have felt them for a while, and I wanted to say it.” I was grateful that she liked me. I think I could sense something was awkward between us. I didn’t know what or why. I felt relieved that she had said something. But at that time, I was actually interested in her best friend. It was a good conversation, but it was an awkward moment in our lives.

Wendy: I mean, it was awkward but not in the way the word is often used. It was more unfortunate.

Luke: Yeah. Because I don’t think we felt awkward afterward.

Wendy: Not at all.

Luke: It was actually quite helpful for our relationship. The air was cleared. Wendy now knew where my thoughts and emotions lied. Ironically, I was able to feel closer to her.

Wendy: It was good, though.

Luke: I did end up dating her friend for the next year or so.

Breanne: Poor, Wendy.

Wendy: Yeah, it was hard.

Luke: I wasn’t necessarily good at knowing what to do in a dating relationship. It was the first one. I didn’t know what to expect or what to talk about. It was more like a guy-girl friendship. Eventually, it became apparent there wasn’t chemistry. On our Senior trip, we ended up breaking up. It was an emotionally crazy time. I was relieved, but it was hard. It was an emotional end to the Senior year. During that time, I actually started feeling things for Wendy – in part because of the frankness and honesty that we had.

Wendy: It was about time!

Luke: Yeah… But the timing was just not great. I knew that it wasn’t smart to start any relationship at the end of high school senior year. I wasn’t going to do anything or say anything. But I did feel things. Whereas before, I didn’t really understand my feelings. But now I did. It was hard to know what to do. I ended up feeling stuff but not saying anything. That was the end of our interactions. It was not the best way to say goodbye, but we carried our feelings for the rest of our story. We moved to different colleges.

When I was in the USA at college, I tried to shut off my TCK life. Not because I was ashamed of it, but I was like, “It’s time to move on.” It wasn’t practical. I knew I wasn’t going to interact with most of the people in my high school again, I wasn’t going to move back to Prague, so it wasn’t practical.

The next time we saw each other was a year after graduation. I was living with some friends of mine from high school in Tennessee. Wendy wrote to me about an assignment she had.

Wendy: Yes, so I went to college, and I studied Psychology. One of our Psych professors was very like, you know, female empowerment, and “It’s your turn to initiate girls. Don’t wait for a man to ask you out. Ask him out.”

Breanne: That’s funny.

Wendy: This should not be allowed. But she gave us an extra credit assignment to ask somebody out on a date. I was like, “What?” but also, “I want that extra credit.” Little Wendy, who had a 97 percent in the class, thought, “I must have this extra credit.” Must. So I write Luke, and I’m like, hey… so I have this assignment. I explained the project and was very real about it. Luke responded with a “sure, sounds fun.” My heart is beating a million times an hour. I’m telling myself, I do not like this guy anymore. Why do I feel so many things right now? We talked, and it was so good. It felt so normal and natural. It felt great to chat and catch up.

(Later on, Wendy went and spent some time with Luke and his friends, and they spent some time together, both felt what Wendy describes as an “aching soul” emotion. Wendy had come with an innocent excitement to see Luke and was now confused. Luke was at a low in his life and concluded it just wouldn’t work.

If you want more in between details, check out their full story at the Wandering Optimist.)

Luke: There came a time when I was living in Indiana. I had graduated from college and was without much of a direction in my life. It had sort of came back around to me that I was actually a TCK, that I could think of myself in that way. Besides that, I didn’t have very many lasting friendships from the States. I was remembering my feelings for Wendy. I now desired to be connected to my past and to tie it to my present. I was also thinking about the future. What did I really want life to look like? I came to the point of asking myself, “Am I going to live with this regret of not seeing where this could have gone with Wendy if I don’t make some sort of initiative right now?” And so, after a lot of talking and thinking about it and wrestling with it myself, I finally reached out to her. After a couple of video calls, we had the conversation. I told her I felt things for her. I was unsure what that would look like because dating online, across the ocean, is a little complicated. (Wendy had moved to Istanbul by then.) Wendy decided that she needed a week to think about it.

Wendy: I was freaking out. I couldn’t believe that the thing that I had been aching for my entire life was actually happening to me. I was just sitting there in complete awe and wonder, thinking, “Lord, what do I do?!” I guess I had also protected myself from thinking that Luke could ever actually like me. The thought that he would was so weird to me. I took a week to think about it. After a week, I asked him some tough questions. I don’t know what I wanted or expected, but he definitely delivered. It was terrific. I said yes to dating him.

Then we found out that our friends were getting married in Hawaii and they were paying for both of us to go. That was crazy. So we had our first date in Hawaii.

Then a couple months later, he moved to Istanbul. The rest is history.

Breanne: That it is.


If you find this story absolutely amazing and want more, check out their full story here.

Isn’t God amazing? He used their experiences to mature them and bring them closer to Him, yet He didn’t let their “aching soul” feeling go in vain. He had a grand plan for them.

Keep on the lookout for the final part of the interview! Part 3 is my favorite part, as they share a lot of truth and encouragement.


Credits to Andrea Stewart Photography for the beautiful picture.


Have you been enjoying this interview? Would you like me to do more of these?

A TCK Interview: Finding Our Identities (Part 1)

I had the privilege of doing an hour-long (!) interview with some friends of mine, an ATCK Christian couple: Luke & Wendy. I had so much fun talking to them… listening to their stories about identity, belonging, love and truth… This is the first part of a 3 or 4 (I still don’t know) part series that I will be releasing over several weeks. Have fun reading!


Breanne: Thank you so much for letting me interview you for my blog! I wanted to ask both of you to tell your individual stories and your very unique love story if that’s ok.

Wendy: Luke, do you want to go first with your individual TCK story?

Luke: Yeah, well, I was born in the States, but when I was two years old, my family moved to Macedonia. My parents served in the church there, and we lived there for eight years. After that, we spent a year in the States in Ohio, and then we moved to Prague, Czech Republic, and we were there for eight years again. After that, I went to college in the states, and my family moved back to the States temporarily. Then my parents moved back to Macedonia. I stayed in Indiana, where I was going to college. And then, well, I actually crossed my life with Wendy’s and ended up moving to Istanbul. So that’s like a brief synopsis of where I lived.

In general, I think my reaction to life as a Third Culture Kid has been mostly one of going with the flow. My parents were very considerate of us kids. They definitely wanted our input and wanted us to feel like we were heard, which was really great. But for the most part, I just kind of went with whatever… *haha* was going on.

When we moved away from Macedonia for the first time, I was young enough to not really understand what was going on. But I was old enough to trust my parents to do something good. But it wasn’t something I remember honestly, like the moving part. Like precisely right when we moved, I don’t actually remember much of that, which is kind of interesting.

Breanne: Yeah, ‘cause you think that would be the part you would remember the most.

Luke: Yeah, maybe it was traumatic or something, I don’t know. *haha* No, I don’t think it was that bad.

Anyway, it was a lot of exploring the new space that I found myself in, but kind of on my own. I sort of developed a kind of outsider perspective wherever I went. I kind of had my own little world that I lived in for the first few months of being in a new space, maybe a couple of years, who knows?

But no matter where I moved, after a while, God always blessed me with friends. So I could find at least one or two people that I felt welcomed by and sort of make a life there, with those friendships, which is really a blessing.

Breanne: Luke, I was reading your guys’ story on Wondering Optimist, Wendy’s website. I remember hearing something about you wanting to be as American as possible during your college years. I think it would be fascinating to hear more about that.

Luke: Moving to America was different from every other time I moved. I first moved to America when I was ten. I was too young to really…

Breanne: Everything’s an adventure when you’re ten!

Luke: Yeah, but when I moved to college, I sort of experienced the States as a place where I was expected to fit in more than I actually felt that I could. So I kind of tried to work with that. Like I said, I tried to go with the flow. And the flow was expecting me to be American. I didn’t really mind that at the time. Honestly, I thought it was interesting because I never really knew or could be American until I tried it.

Wendy: Did you succeed?

Luke: I don’t really think I succeeded *haha*

(Everyone laughed)

Luke: Well, I succeeded in some ways. I made friends there and identified with people about things that weren’t just about being a TCK, you know? So in that way, I succeeded. But that wasn’t necessarily an American aspect of me. It was just identifying with people as individuals.

But I always sort of felt like I was missing something. And I think that was because I was pushing my past away, in my mind. Thinking, “Ok, that was part of my life that I need to move on from.” In thinking that way, I sort of stabbed myself in the foot, as it were because it stopped me from feeling fully home wherever I was. Once I embraced that I am a TCK again and that it is actually significant and good, it helped to move forward with my desires… to figure out what I actually want. ‘Cause being a TCK affects the things I want.

Breanne: Thank you! That’s awesome. Your turn Wendy…

Wendy: Alright! My story is quite similar to Luke’s. I was born in a tiny town in Illinois called Winfield. My dad was going through seminary at the time, and my mom worked for a proofreading company. When I was two, and my brother was less than one, we moved to Ukraine. It was Donetsk Ukraine, as in the Eastern side of Ukraine, so very Russian. It was right after the Iron Curtain came down, so right after the Soviet Union disintegrated. My parents served in the church in Ukraine. My father worked as a pastor and in the seminary. We lived there for four years until my brother Jackson began to struggle with asthma. It really became clear that it wasn’t the right place for him and his health. So we went back to the States for one year. And then to Austria for a year. Lastly, we moved to the Czech Republic. It was like four countries and four schools and four different languages in four years. I was six when we left Ukraine. My first grade year in the States was in a private Christian and super-white school. And then we moved to Austria, Vienna, and I went to my first Christian International school. It was my first International school experience, and it was the best. It was there, in second grade, that I discovered I was actually an extrovert. Before that, I was just in my own little world… I remember I felt really distant in Ukraine and the States. When I moved to second grade in this International School, I was like, “Oh my gosh, everyone is different, and it’s ok that I am different from all these people. I don’t need to fit in because no one fits in.” It was so freeing. I made friends with this guy from Kenya named Tumani, and we would play soccer together. It was such a great year. I felt accepted for exactly who I felt I wanted to be. Very liberating.

Then we moved to Prague, and I started going to this British International School. That actually took me back into my own little world somewhat because there were a particular culture and a certain way of being… It was mostly for business kids; they were primarily British, I didn’t really fit in. It was a time of a bit of hardship, I guess? That was just a different genre of a TCK that I hadn’t interacted with yet, and a lot of them weren’t believers. That pushed me into a different headspace, and it was hard not to fit in with that; they were into some dark stuff as well. That was my first experience of like, “Oh, I need to be careful with what I hang out around. I shouldn’t be watching these movies.” It was just kind of dark. I guess that was when I needed to choose not to fit in, consciously, which was different. Because as a TCK, you automatically just want to adapt, at least I do. In a way, I’ve always wanted to adapt, but I never remember actually adapting. I was always like, “but I am my own person. I am Wendy, and no one else is.” I really embraced the “I am different from you” kind of mentality.

And so we switched schools to a Christian international School, which Luke joined later. I think my story is more complicated in some ways. The lack of control I felt I dealt with in some negative ways. I think I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression, which resulted from not feeling in control. Some expat families are rooted where they are, but our family wasn’t like that. Every year they’d be like, “We’ll see, we’ll see”… It gave me an uncertain feeling of “Do I learn Czech, do I not? I don’t know. What’ll happen? I hope I don’t leave my friends”. I think I felt out of control. I do think I suffered from the effects of those sorts of things.

Going to college, I went to college after working on my mental health for a long time, which helped me stay ok and process. And unlike Luke, I embraced my TCK-ness in college. I joined the intercultural organization. I wanted to be involved with TCKs and find internationals. I really made an effort to get to know multicultural people. I think I felt most at home in a diverse community.

The first two years of college were really hard. After that, however, I started to realize that everyone had a really complex story. There were so many other ways of finding diversity and different perspectives. That really kept me sane in college. I was blessed by rooming with a foster kid and hearing her story, and having a bunch of friends who were Vietnamese… I hadn’t met many people who were Vietnamese.

When college was coming to an end, I had studied abroad in Italy. Then after that, I came to Turkey to visit my parents in Istanbul. This was like my junior year of college. I remember thinking, “I think I could live here. I really like Istanbul.” And I really liked Italy as well. I thought to myself, “Man, America’s cool, but I really do feel more at home here, on this side of the world.

Some TCKs are like, I’ve moved, I don’t want to anymore, I want to settle down and put down roots. I had the opposite. I want to keep being a nomad, totally up to that hippie life; let’s go!.. Everyone at college knew me as the European cultured hippie Wendy who liked art and wanted to travel the world again. That was kind of my identity already. I just embraced that.

After college, I backpacked through Europe to Istanbul, and I started my life here. And yeah, I think I will be connected to the international community my entire life. It’s so much a part of who I am… feeling more like a global citizen than an American citizen. My identity is nuanced. More and more people than we realize have that. Whether they have a passport or not. They can be multicultural, multiethnic in some way.


Come back this next weekend for the Part 2: A Long Lost Love!


Credits to @istanbul.lovestory on Instagram for the picture

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.

Truth4TCKs: Citizens of Heaven

This post was originally a guest post (written by me) on my friend Clarissa’s blog. You can find it here.


When someone asks you where you are from, what do you say?

My answer looks something like this: Well, ethnically I’m from X country, and both my parents are from there. But actually, my dad grew up in Y country, and I grew up in Z country. 

I have a passport from a certain country, therefore I am its citizen, but I’m not very patriotic. I don’t share many similar views with the people of that country. Thus, I don’t feel like I belong there. 

Instead, I live in a different country. I adore it immensely, love the people, and yet I’m not its citizen. I don’t belong there either. 

So where do I belong? 

That’s the question every human being tries to answer. Many do find their answer. However, TCKs tend to not really know. This can be frustrating to them.

But for us Christian TCKs, it’s different. 

Why?

Because the Bible tells us that our identity is in Christ, and our citizenship is in heaven.

Our Identity: If We Don’t Belong, Who Are We?

As TCKs, we’re different. Some people love that, and others hate it. We can tend to find our identity in our TCK-ness. We try to tell people that they don’t get us because we’re different. We wrap up who we are in the fact that we’re different. As a result, we can be defensive. We can have self-pity because we don’t belong, or we can get rebellious when people talk about our passport country as home, simce to us, it isn’t. 

Where is our identity first found? Are we first TCKs, or first Christians? 

The answer is pretty simple, but it’s important. First and foremost, we belong to Jesus. 

How does that change our relationships? 

If we belong to Jesus, we love others who belong to Him as well. That includes the person who hasn’t left their town their entire life. That includes the person who seems to know nothing about the “outside world”. That includes the billionth person who asks you how life is like where you live.

We love them completely. Christ gave His life up for billions of people who can never understand Him. He is God, and we’re not. If Jesus could love like that, we need to love others who honestly, can understand us more than how we could understand Jesus. 

Citizens of Heaven

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:20-21

The old english meaning of conversation is the place where one lives (Online Etymology Dictionary, 2020). In Greek, conversation is politeuma, meaning community or citizenship (Bible Study Tools, 2020). In the context of this verse, the idea is that there are two spheres: the earthly world, and the heavenly world. Returning to the verse which reads For our conversation is in heaven. We conclude that we don’t belong here. Our community, our citizenship, our home is in heaven.

Most Christians aren’t TCKs. Whether they are Canadian or Kenyan or Turkish or Singaporean, they’ve grown up in the same place their whole lives. They have roots. They have a culture, an ethnic or patriotic community. They have a sense of belonging. 

But the thing is, all Christians are citizens of Heaven. None of us truly belong here. We have a better Home. 

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

– Hebrews 11:13-16 

This passage comes after the “Hall of Faith” as many people call it in Hebrews 11. It lists the numerous heroes of the faith from the Old Testament. The passage is talking about them. They sought a better country. A heavenly country. A country where every nation will come together and will be one people. God’s people. 

What Our TCK Lives Teach Us

I think TCKs have an advantage. We don’t belong, anywhere really, on this earth. I’ve heard many TCKs call themselves “global citizens”. However, Christian TCKs don’t belong anywhere on this earth. Being a Christian TCK is a blessing. Because we’re not attached to any country 100%, we long for a better one. Thus, we can comprehend better that our citizenship is in heaven as compared to someone who has never left their town their whole life long. 

And just think about it! A country where all ethnic groups, all cultures, all languages will live together, as neighbors, praising God! Is that a comfort to a TCK soul or what?


Sign up for my friend Clarissa’s TCK Email list here.

Truth4TCKs: Painful Goodbyes Are Good

The word “goodbye” has always been a part of my life. I’ve switched schools five times. I’ve had different friends at those different schools, and I always had to say goodbye. I live in a different country than my passport country because of my parents’ work. When our summer visits there come to an end, I have to say goodbye to family because I won’t see them for a year or two. 

As a TCK, (third culture kid), I have struggled with those goodbyes. It’s horrible because my attitude becomes one of “since I’ll have to say goodbye anyways, why bother investing in this friendship?” It’s not that I don’t want deep friendships. I do… I desperately do. But I lie to myself so I won’t have to go through the pain. I say that it isn’t a big deal if I don’t put my heart into something, because it’ll be gone soon, anyway. 

Dear friends just left the country I live in. To me, they were the embodiment of what it meant to love others. They only lived here for two years, but when they left, I felt, like so many others, like they had been here for ages. They invested in dozens of families and people and were generous, encouraging, and loving. They didn’t hold back. They gave so much of themselves that even when they were gone physically, they remain in the hearts of many.

When they left, it hurt. I felt like a part of me was being ripped out because they had been such a huge part of our lives and they were always so loving. Even now, I struggle with wanting to block out all the emotions. 

But my friend told me something she heard years ago: this hurt that you’re feeling, it’s okay. It’s good, even. Not everyone experiences so much love that taking away that friend takes a part of them too. 

That might sound obvious, but just the fact that the pain was good is such a powerful reminder for me. 

These pain-blocking, goodbye-normalizing walls aren’t just bad because they prevent friendships, they’re sinful. They’re sinful because I don’t see the people I interact with as worthy of my love. I don’t see people as valuable, eternal human beings created in God’s image and will be impacted by the way I choose to love them or not. My walls might seem to protect me, but all they do is create more damage. 

I harbor God’s love and His Spirit in me. As a child of God, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God uses broken people as a means to bring other broken people to the Perfect Father. When I choose not to love others and give them my time and love, I choose to not show them God’s love. 

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:10-11

Think how much it must have been painful for God the Father to be separated from His Son. The different persons of the trinity were in perfect communion. He had to punish and be estranged from God the Son, yet He loved Him. And He did this because He loved us, who were incomparably less worthy of love than Jesus. If we don’t deserve all that love, why do we build these walls to try to protect ourselves from fleeting feelings? Why do we do these things when eternal lives and souls are at stake? Are we really that selfish? 

If God loved us, we ought to love. And when the pain comes, we rejoice, because we have loved and have been loved. We rejoice because our pain is temporary. We rejoice because, if the loved one has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we have stored up heavenly treasure and the friendship with that person will never end.