Gaslighting

by Elizabeth

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Gaslighting. The first time it happens to you, you may be unimaginably confused. You may not know what is going on for years — maybe even decades. But once you see gaslighting for the manipulative mess it really is, you won’t be so easily confused (or controlled) the next time.

I’m going to describe just one aspect of gaslighting, the aspect I’m most familiar with: false accusations. For years I was confused by false accusations. I knew I had not done the things I and my loved ones were accused of doing. I thought if I could just explain what really happened, that my accuser would finally understand and agree that I — and we — did not do those things.

I misunderstood. I thought truth was the goal. I was wrong. Truth was never the goal. Manipulation was the goal. Control was the goal. But truth was never the goal. Unfortunately, pain was the result.

Today we are in an era of Me Too, a long-overdue time when victims of abuse absolutely must be heard and cared for. I’ve been an advocate for victims in the past. So has my husband.

But I was double minded. On the one hand, I knew we needed to believe victims when they get brave enough to tell their (oftentimes horrific) stories. On the other hand, I was afraid that advocating for victim stories meant that all accusations should be believed, even and including the false accusations that I (and other loved ones) had been receiving for years.

I feared that advocating for Me Too would automatically mean that all accusations of abuse of any kind would be believed. I feared that in an atmosphere of victims speaking out, that someone might believe the kinds of accusations that had been leveled against us. Being in public ministry, this was a double fear. It was not just about the truth, it was not just about my good name. I was also afraid of false accusations wrecking our ministry. Destroying any positive influence we had. And even dissolving our salary.

This is a false fear. Just because we need to listen to the stories of abuse victims doesn’t mean that there aren’t also false accusations out there. We must take in the entire context of a story. And the entire context is that an abuser will abuse. They will hurt you on purpose, over and over and over again. And a gaslighter will gaslight. They will accuse you of doing and saying things you never, ever did. Things you would never, ever dream of doing or saying. That’s why it’s so confusing.

To top it all off, the things the gaslighter accuses you of are often the very sins they are themselves guilty of. But until you know your gaslighter much better, you won’t realize they are accusing you of their own sins, their own crimes. That’s part of why it can take so long to see it, the first time it happens to you. Gaslighters are masters at control and manipulation, so they will hide their sins from you. You won’t know they are projecting their sins onto you. You won’t know where the false allegations came from. You will think they are coming out of thin air. You will think you can clear up the “misunderstanding” with better communication. But you can’t clear it up, because those accusations didn’t come out of thin air: they came from inside the gaslighter.

But you don’t know any of this the first time it happens to you. The first time it happens, it feels like the ground is falling out from under you. You start to doubt your memory, even if you (like me) have always had an exceptional memory. You think to yourself that you never did that thing. You KNOW you never did that thing. But when someone else is so insistent that you did or said that thing, you start to wonder if maybe you did do that thing, and that you just don’t remember it. It’s absolutely crazymaking.

Eventually you might receive such outrageous accusations that you do in fact know you never did those things. That is about the time you start to see the gaslighting for what it is: behavior meant to entrap you.

But wait, there’s more to it than that. Sometimes a gaslighter will pop in with wonderful acts of kindness. They will spend money on you, give you a gift, spend a lovely afternoon with you. They will suddenly be super sweet and kind to you after months or years of nastiness. Don’t be fooled by this tactic, either. It’s also meant to confuse you. You will think, that person was so cruel to me, but now they are being so kind, maybe they really aren’t that bad. Maybe they are someone I really do want in my life.

Except they aren’t someone you want in your life. You will always be on edge around them, fearing the next false accusation while simultaneously hoping like a heroine addict for the next act of kindness. That heroine reference is no joke. Experiments have been done showing that rats get more addicted to drug dispensers that unpredictably dispense the drugs. More addicted to unpredictable dispenser than predictable dispensers. Being rewarded unevenly is more addictive that being rewarded evenly. That’s because you never know what you’re going to get, and you’re always hoping that this will be the time you will get the drug (or the kindness).

So you stay. You wait. You hope for goodness, you hope for change. You hope for something better. And because you occasionally get treated better, you keep sticking around thinking it’s going to happen again. Even though most of the treatment is cruel and manipulative. Even though you don’t feel safe, ever — even when the kindness is pouring out, because you know deep down the kindness won’t last. But those confusing messages of cruelty and kindness will keep you there in the clutches of the gaslighter.

It’s very difficult to see, the first time it happens to you. It may take years of pain and even time in a counselor’s office, working through what you think are YOUR issues, to see that the issue was never yours to begin with. The simple truth is that you were dealing with a manipulator. A gaslighter. And it’s not your fault. But it is your responsibility. To run. To put up boundaries between yourself and your gaslighter. To do the hard work of releasing yourself from guilt over staying in an unhealthy relationship so long, because you didn’t know any better. And truly, you didn’t know. But when you do know, you can protect yourself. You can get out.

And you need to get out, even if getting out means that your gaslighter will tell lies about you to other people, lies that are believed because gaslighters are very good at manipulating emotions in other people (beginning with yours!). Getting out of a relationship with a gaslighter means you have to accept that other people might believe the gaslighter. That’s ok. What other people believe about you is not your responsibility, even if it’s unjust and unfair. (And believe me, I know how unjust and unfair it is!) Getting away from a toxic person is good and healthy for you, even if your reputation takes a hit. Being with a toxic person is a continuous hit on your heart and your soul. It’s better to get out, even if false accusations come later.

Here’s the thing about false accusations: they’re false. You know, and God knows, and the people who really know you, also know that they are false. Of course an accuser is going to accuse. Of course an abuser is going to abuse. That is what they do. That is what you can expect them to do. It shouldn’t surprise us when liars lie and stealers steal and abusers abuse and gaslighters gaslight. If we are still afraid of our gaslighter making public, false accusations, then we are living in fear. We are still under their control. We are still under their spell. We are always looking over our shoulders, desperately afraid the other shoe will drop, and they will “ruin” everything.

But I think we need to tell and live a different story. In situations like these I think the bravest, sanest thing we can do is refuse to be afraid of false accusations from a habitual false accuser. We can choose to live FREE.

Rest is Not the Absence of Work, It’s the Presence of the King {Velvet Ashes}

Elizabeth is over at Velvet Ashes today . . . .

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The words sleep and rest are nearly synonymous in my mind. We wake feeling rested after a good night’s sleep. Conversely, we feel disappointingly not rested after a fitful night’s sleep. Sleep is a gift, and certainly, it is a type of rest, but it’s not the only kind of rest we need.

We also need the kind of rest that lets us stop striving. The kind of rest that lets us stop worrying, that lets us stop working. We need the kind of rest that lets us stop rushing. “All our busy rushing ends in nothing,” David proclaimed in Psalm 39:6. Our daily lives have changed significantly since then, but in all those years the human heart hasn’t changed. David’s words are as true today as they were 3000 years ago.

If we spend some time studying the world David lived in, we can find fresh meaning in the word rest. In the Old Testament, “rest” referred to a dwelling or habitation. More specifically, the settlement in Canaan provided rest to the Israelites. In ancient times in general, rest meant that the battle was over and the king was on his throne. Rest meant that regular rhythms could be taken up because the people weren’t at war anymore.

Finish reading here.

A Few of My Favorite Things {September/October 2018}

by Elizabeth

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We moved back to Asia two months ago and have been busy ever since, but I’m here today with some favorites for you.

A couple online fitness sources I’m really loving right now are the Lazy Dancer Tips Youtube channel and the Fitness Blender website. I especially love videos for improving core strength, releasing back and neck pain, and improving overall flexibility. (Ask me for specific favorites if you want them!)

I’m using some essential oils: peppermint in the morning (and for headaches) and lavender at night.

I’m back to enjoying coconut milk in my morning coffee. I just couldn’t find any coconut milk in America that tasted like the coconut milk here in Cambodia, so I used half and half. I like half and half, but I also like coconut milk on tropical mornings!

I got to start teaching science at co-op again, and it really helps sew up the tears in my soul. I might write more about that some time, but for now I’m just happy to be in the classroom again.

I attended an adult dance class. I’m trying to take better care of my mind and my body and tend to the ways in which they are connected, and I hope this dance class can be part of that. I was thoroughly confused during much of the first class, but I’m hoping that changes as I attend in the future.

I’m also working on my anxiety. Will be able to talk more about that in the coming months. For now I’m just admitting I have been struggling with anxiety for awhile and seeking more guidance and healing. I had not dealt with it for many years, but it’s back and getting in the way of normal life functioning.

 

BOOKS AND MAGAZINES

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Delightful story. Montgomery was a favorite childhood author of mine. A friend on Facebook recommended this book, so it inspired me to read it (it’s cheap and I had loaded it onto my Kindle ages ago but never read it). I was entranced. The story is hilarious, and Montgomery is also a wise observer of human nature and relationships. I always get a kick out of old authors who describe reality so accurately. Life may have changed over the years, but humans haven’t changed much, have they? It’s a short read (and cheap on Kindle!), so treat yourself to it soon.

Love Among the Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse. Also recommended by a friend on FB. Wodehouse is hilarious in his Bertram Wooster series. He’s still funny in this stand-alone story, though somewhat less so in my opinion. Free on Kindle!

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. I re-read this book to my younger kids, who didn’t hear it the first time around. We loved it. Again, this is a book nearly a hundred years old that seems so contemporary. Such a great handbook on child development too, if you want to see it that way. If you just want to see it as a great story, that’s fine too. Cheap on Kindle.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. Rereading this to my younger children for our Sonlight American History course. It is just as good as it was several years ago, if not more so! I wrote about it before, here.

Families Where Grace is in Place: Building a Home Free of Manipulation, Legalism, and Shame by Jeff Van Vonderen. I’ve read a lot of books on marriage and parenting, so many that I’ve stopped reading them — so many seem formulaic or simplistic or place more burdens on already tired, struggling people. This book is different. I’ve had it for years but for some reason the introduction didn’t pull me in, so I never actually read it till now. It is so good. Van Vonderen is a counselor and it’s clear he has sat with so many suffering people. He shines a light on the way religion can be used to keep people captive. He explains how unhealthy relationships get started and keep going. He shows how shame hurts people. And then he teaches us how we can do family life better: with grace, boundaries, and honesty. Single best book I’ve ever read on the Christian family.

(No More Perfect Kids is probably the second best book I’ve read about parenting. Other important influences on my parenting have generally just been good books on Grace, on receiving it for myself. I can’t give my kids what I haven’t received from God myself. I think of Grace for the Good Girl, From Good to Grace, and Prodigal God as top three contenders in the Grace arena.  But marriage and parenting books in general, I dislike and don’t think are particularly helpful. I’d love to hear in the comments either how you feel about marriage and parenting books or which ones you think are particularly helpful.)

The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher. This book is about so much more than NFP (which, full disclosure, I don’t practice anymore). I bought the book because I read several of Simcha Fisher’s scathing, insightful blog posts (which are linked in a section below). I thought this would be a funny and practical take on life with NFP, but like I said, it was about so much more. This book is worth the price for chapter 3 alone, which delves into the ideas of “God’s will.” Anyone who grew up in 1990’s cultural Christianity with heavy emphasis on finding and doing the Will of God needs this chapter. She balances our incorrect views of what God’s will means, and if you’re anything like me, it will make you cry both with its compassion and with its truth.

She also delves into suffering — the Cross. That we should not look down on our suffering, just because it isn’t our neighbor’s, and we should not look down on our neighbor’s suffering, just because it isn’t ours: we all have a Cross. She gave me the courage to accept the suffering that is in my life right now, regardless of what it looks like compared to other people’s suffering. Simcha offers a fresh interpretation of Jesus’ words “do not worry about tomorrow,” something I always need more of. It goes something like this: “Your now self can’t imagine handling the future, but you won’t be your now-self handling the future, you will be your future-self” (my paraphrase). Later on she has a lot of insight into marriage, specifically regarding issues of NFP, but they are applicable all across the board for how married people can love each other better.

The Message by Eugene Peterson. I have not historically enjoyed The Message. It seemed too “out there.” I really, really like the New Living Translation and have been reading it for about 10 years now. I’m still using the NLT while using the Message more as a commentary on favorite passages (especially Matthew 6) and the Psalms rather than a primary reading source. Mainly to add a different perspective to my original reading. But my Bible reading tastes are varied, because I also use the Scottish Psalter, published in 1635, as an adjunct to my Psalm reading. The Psalter enables Psalm-singing, and I love it.

And I’m back to reading Christianity Today. I think my brain was too tired in America to keep reading their articles. But now that I’m back into a routine in Cambodia, my brain is able to engage a little bit more. I appreciate that Christianity Today, while never misinterpreting or teaching against the Bible, still dares to question unhealthy or merely cultural practices and mindsets. After 6 years overseas, I find that I can still strongly relate to the content in Christianity Today, an American periodical. In my opinion, CT remains true to biblical Christianity without being overly culturally influenced.

 

BLOG POSTS FOR OVERSEAS WORKERS

Moving Abroad Can Sure Mess Up Your Autocomplete by Craig Thompson. Funny!

5 Newton Street – a Love Story by Marilyn Gardner. Emotive and insightful as always.

Missions or Wanderlust? by Stephie. Important.

If I Had to Get a Job by Anisha Hopkinson. Again, funny.

10 Dangerous Things for Kids and One True Danger, a Quiz by Rachel Pieh Jones. Really important reminders.

8 Things I Forget to Love About a Life Overseas by Jerry Jones. More important reminders.

GRIT: A Guide to Praying for Third Culture Kids by Lauren Wells. Exactly what the title says it is.

TCK Lessons: Everyone Leaves by Tanya Crossman. This is a real phenomenon for Third Culture Kids. My kids have been saying this phrase for some time now, and recently had occasion to say it again. How can it not be true? We are all, after all, guests in our host country. No matter how long-term we are as global workers, we will, in time, return to our passport countries.

 

BLOG POSTS REGARDING ABUSE, ASSAULT, AND ACCUSATIONS

Lament for the Disbelieved by Tanya Marlow. Some of the political controversy in the States may be over for now, but this is still a vitally important message. The same goes for the next two pieces by Simcha Fisher, author of the NFP book I reviewed above.

Between Brock Turner and Brett Kavanaugh, When Do Girls Matter? (Be prepared for a bad word at the end.)

If she was sexually assaulted, why didn’t she say something sooner? Written a year ago, long before the most recent political catastrophe. The issues are the same and have been for decades. We need to wake up and pay attention to this problem.

 

JUST PLAIN GOOD BLOG POSTS

You are not dead. You are waiting. By Simcha Fisher.

Would You Even Like Jesus? by Jonathan Trotter

He’s just a . . . by Jonathan Trotter. (Yes I do like my husband’s writing, thankyouverymuch!)

Still Scandalous by Jen Pollock Michel.

On Seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls and Pondering My Own Household God by Jen Oshman.

A God Veiled in Time and Space But Revealed in Christ by Shayne Looper. I’ve had some real life conversations and watched some online video interviews and have been contemplating belief and unbelief. I want to write more about it eventually, but I think in the end having belief means making room for mystery and not having all the questions answered. Unbelief doesn’t answer all the questions either. It has its own set of problems. This is a good discussion of some of the issues.

 

MOVIES AND PODCASTS

Goodbye Christopher Robin. A lot of the issues in this story applies to ministry families. A real tear-jerker.

Wonder. We watched this as a family. I had avoided it for fear it would be too sad or difficult. But it’s really really worth the watch, even if I did cry!

Faith and Reason from Bibliofiles. Good discussion of faith and unbelief.

Forgive Jerks, a short video from Nadia Bolz-Weber.

 

SONGS

Defender by Rita Springer. “When I thought I lost me, you knew where I left me.” This song met me in all kinds of good ways.

Sing My Way Back by Steffany Gretzinger. “When I lose direction, when I can’t see the stars, if we get disconnected, I’ll sing my way back to Your heart, I’ll sing my way back to Your arms.”

Why Cross-Cultural Workers Need Tent Pegs {A Life Overseas}

Elizabeth is at A Life Overseas today. . . . 

tent pegs post

Home is a complicated word. A complicated idea. What is it? Where is it? As global nomads, we’re not entirely sure how we feel about home. We’re not sure we have it, and we’re not sure how to get it. We know the correct spiritual answer – that Christ is our home. That He is busy preparing an eternal home for us. And that even now, He makes His home in our hearts, wherever we go. Still, we search for a more earthly home. A physical place to set up camp for a while.

As an adult Third Culture Kid, I’ve spent a lot of time seeking out roots. But lately I’ve been wondering if I should stop my search. I’m far too easily disappointed; permanence of people or place is not something we’re promised in this life. Even so, we need a support system for lives as portable as ours. This summer I started describing those supports as tent pegs.

A tent is a temporary shelter, and the tent pegs that fasten it to the ground also provide only temporary security. Tents and tent pegs are mobile, going with us wherever we go. They allow us to make a home right here, right now. And when the time comes, they allow us to make a home somewhere else too. Every time we pull our tent pegs up out of the ground, pack them in our bags, and move on, we can take the time to hold each tent peg in our hand and remember.

Finish reading here.

A Few of My Favorite Things {July/August 2018}

by Elizabeth

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Well this summer has flown by without a lot of time to write. We have had some amazing experiences. I could almost say it’s been the best summer of my life so far. (And let me just say that summer in the States is way better than winter.)

Here are a few of the highlights from the last two months:

We took a trip to Joplin to see several sets of family friends.

We visited the Nelson-Atkins art museum and the World War I memorial in Kansas City. I love being a Kansas Citian and I love sharing these things with my children.

We traveled up to Belle Plaine, Iowa, to visit family for the 4th of July. I caught up with family I hadn’t seen in years, visited the church where my parents (and several aunts and uncles) got married, and visited the graves of family members all the way back to the first Czech immigrant. Plus I saw my first fireworks show in 7 years.

My husband and I went on an anniversary trip to Eureka Springs, where we toured the town, including two breathtaking church buildings. We also visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which has some amazing architecture in addition to the art.

I met up with three Velvet Ashes writers for lunch right here in Kansas City.

My sister and her adorable baby boy came into town again. Swoon!

We caught up with old friends, new friends, and family in Rolla, Missouri, and Searcy, Arkansas. We also went to a college reunion.

We finished the summer with a family vacation at Camp Takodah.

When we got back from that, my parents threw me a surprise family birthday party, my first birthday in America in 7 years. It’s been a wonderful summer, and I will be sad to leave my parents’ home again.

 

BOOKS

Life has been so full I haven’t had a lot of time to read, but I’ve been able to squeeze in a little bit of reading. These four books are wonderful.

Darling: A Woman’s Guide to Godly Sexuality by Aanna Greer. The friend who told me this is the book she wishes she would have had as a newlywed (and who gives it to engaged college students) was right: this is a fully comprehensive book that honors God’s purposes for marriage without being uptight or insecure. Aanna fully embraces the joys of sex within marriage. Lots of practical advice you don’t find many Christian sex resources. Often you get one or the other – delight in sex without God’s boundaries, or a respect for God’s boundaries without the joy or the practical advice.

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich. A 92-year-old writes about the ridiculousness of our health and longevity ambitions. Written by someone without an eternal perspective — how much more applicable are these words to those who believe these bodies are not the end of the story!

Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education by Susan Wise Bauer. Bauer is a favorite writer, speaker, and thinker of mine. In fact I think I’ve listened to her discussion What I’ve Learned From the High School Years half a dozen times already. I wasn’t planning on reading this new book of hers because 1) I’m already homeschooling 2) I’d heard a bunch of interviews with her about this book and figured nothing would be new. But I walked into a brick-and-mortar bookstore in America and saw the book. I was in tears by the second page of the introduction. I needed her words badly, so I bought the book and read it.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss. I did not grow up on this Seuss title, but came across it this summer at my sister-in-law’s house. It’s good for kids, sure, but like any good children’s book, it becomes even more true the older you get. Good for grown-ups too.

 

BLOG POSTS FOR INTERNATIONAL WORKERS

You’re Doing it Wrong by Anisha Hopkinson. So funny! Also, true.

Risk Myths by Anna E. Hampton. This page is a treasure trove of resources for cross-cultural workers. Hampton has written a book on the subject but still offers a wealth of wisdom on her website. She’s one of those rare people who seamlessly blends head and heart. She’s well-researched while being compassionate. I highly recommend her entire site, but this page is a good place to start.

Shame or Courage: Leaving the Field for the Sake of a Child by Michèle Phoenix. Empathetic and discerning, as is all of Michèle’s work.

Where I Ought to Have Been Born by Karen Huber. Discusses Till We Have Faces, for any Lewis lovers out there.

On Welcoming the Third Culture Kid by Marilyn Gardner.

 

BLOG POSTS ON PRIVILEGE & RACE

Repenting for Healthcare Inequality: A Christian Response by Marilyn Gardner.

Are White Christians Retraumatizing People for the Sake of Diversity by Kaitlin Curtice. It’s at least worth asking the question.

I Am Not a Racist — and other things I wish I knew were true by Jerry Jones. So proud of Jerry for writing this.

 

MISCELLANEOUS BLOG POSTS ON CHRISTIANITY

The Sentence I Thought I’d Never Write by Rebecca Reynolds (whose new book is out, and I pre-ordered my copy, so I get to take it back to Cambodia even though it’s already sold out in a few places!). You should follow Reynolds on FB and on her blog. She’s thoughtful, thorough, nuanced, and waaaayy smarter than me (she’s a logic teacher for crying out loud). But when I learned she had also been a pastor’s wife, I suddenly realized why I connected so much with her writing.

But Could a God Like That Be Good also by Rebecca Reynolds.

Authoritarianism: just some things I want to say by Kay Bruner. Explains a whole lot of wrong things I’ve seen in my life.

The Bible is Literature for the Resistance by Rachel Held Evans. Worth a read even if you’re not on all the same theological pages as the author (I know I’m not). Still, an excellent perspective.

 

QUOTES

“All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”

This passage from II Samuel 14:14 was read during a communion talk, of all things. But it grabbed my attention and didn’t let go. We have a God who does not just sweep life away; He devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.  (As a side note, this is one of the reasons I love the New Living Translation and have for the last 10 years. I have not found another translation that makes God’s Word come alive so well.)

“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people [in Ephesus], who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.”

A seemingly insignificant verse at the very beginning of a favorite book (and the beginning of a sermon series this summer). But I noticed both/and aspect of “chosen” and “faithful.” It reminded me of Tanya Crossman’s most recent TCK article on A Life Overseas. We belong to God because God says so, and then we learn to live like we’re in God’s Kingdom.

 

SONGS

Living Hope by Brian Johnson and Phil Wickham. The first time I heard this song in church, I got goosebumps when we got to “roaring lion.” I never get tired of the gospel story, do you? “Then came the morning that sealed the promise Your buried body began to breathe Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion Declared the grave has no claim on me.”

Center My Life by Austin Stone Worship. Turn my eyes away from searching for lesser glory.” Hit me hard. That’s what all our searching is, isn’t? For LESSER glory. It’s not that we’re not seeking glory, it’s that we get sidetracked from the real glory.

Love So Great by Hillsong. “Not to us but to your name, we lift up all praise.” From a well-known psalm, but a singable way to say it.

No Other Name by Hillsong. “Seated on high the undefeated one.”

 

TELEVISION & FILM

I Can Only Imagine. I didn’t expect to like this movie since the song had never appealed much to me (don’t know why, since it was always so popular). But Christian movies are definitely getting better. This one and The Case for Christ from earlier this year both focus on the narrative rather than preaching. And their narratives are good.

John Adams HBO series. Adams is my husband’s favorite Founding Father. We didn’t finish this series, but as a family we started it (previewing it first so we could skip needed scenes). We’re starting two years of studying American history in school, so this felt an appropriate introductory family activity.

Crazy Rich Asians. I laughed so hard at this movie. It’s funny even if you don’t “get” the Asian cultural and lifestyle references. But if you do get them, it’s even funnier.

A Few of My Favorite Things {May/June 2018}

So I can’t always seem to get these favorites posts to you by month’s end, but better late than never right? ~Elizabeth

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Teenagers. 17 years in to our ministry journey, and I still love youth. This semester I taught math to the teens at our co-op. I’ve been with these students for a couple years now and have gotten to know each of them, and they are all special to me. Teaching them has been one of the greatest honors of our most recent term in Cambodia. I love watching them come alive and interact with different ideas, each in their own way.

At the end of this semester we lost 6 teens to family moves and graduations, and it was a difficult sendoff. I asked if I could say something to them at graduation and then pray over them. It was an emotional thing to do, but I really wanted to say goodbye well. Next year will not be the same without them! But we know they are headed where God is leading, and we trust Him even when things get hard.

Palm trees in Los Angeles. I wrote about our trip over the Pacific here.

Trip to Emerald Hills. We always visit Team Expansion’s home office, and this year’s visit was particularly good. I wrote about it here.

Trip to Washington State. We visited family and friends, which is of course its own treat. But we also saw the magnificent Mt. Hood on descent, drove to see Mt. St. Helens, and even climbed an ancient lava tube (basically a 2-hour hike up a 60-degree cave) at Mt. St. Helens. I’d never seen a volcano in person before. Beautiful.

Meeting my nephew. He’s 6 months old, but I hadn’t seen him yet. He was even cuter and sweeter than the pictures showed. He fell asleep in my arms several times, and I fell in love with him. I was pretty bummed when we had to say goodbye.

Trip to northern Missouri. We’ve been friends since our college days, and we’ve always gone to visit their farm, even before we had kids. The Galt Christian Church there always welcomes us wholeheartedly. Honestly, every time we visit I am blown away by their kindness and generosity.

Grand River Valley Choir and Orchestra. While we were in Galt, we went to see another friend who was singing in a concert. It was marvelous. I don’t get a chance to see much live music in Cambodia, and it is just different from music you can access online. It may have been my girls’ first experience of live music in fact, and they loved it. Some of the orchestra music had an Irish theme, which was fun, while the choir music was themed around the stages of life, from new baby to old age. I will tell you I cried. Quite a bit actually. The director I hugged afterward may have thought I was crazy!

 

BOOKS

I have not finished a single book, but I have looked in detail at several library books, including:

Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik and The Language of God by Francis S. Collins (both in search of high school science books),

Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension by Matt Parker (a favorite Youtuber of mine),

The Not-Quite States of America by Doug Mack (recommended by Rachel Pieh Jones and in preparation for studying American history next year with my kids), and

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (recommended by the people at Sonlight and full of history and neuroscience).

I’ve also been reading Mr. Putter and Tabby books and the Whatever After series (recommended by my friend Danielle and her daughter) with my girls. Both are fun, heart-warming series, and I can fully endorse them both.

 

MISSIONS AND INTERNATIONAL LIVING

To My Adult TCK Self: I See You by Rachel Hicks. Makes me cry every time.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves About Africa by Arthur Davis. Note: If you want to really think (or cry), read Arthur and Tamie Davis. They are Aussies living in Tanzania, and they blog at Meet Jesus at uni.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is Not a Ministry Guide by Susan Mettes. Intriguing and important.

6 Reasons Why You Should Not Go Overseas by Wesley Mills. For more on that subject, see Laura Parker’s classic 10 Reasons Not to Become a Missionary or Ryan Kuja’s newer The Call Is Not Enough.

The Top 10 Most Valuable Mindsets for MKs and TCKs by Michèle Phoenix.

25 Things They Don’t Put in the Life Abroad Brochure by Jerry Jones.

Leaving Poorly: a whole new set of options for departing expats also by Jerry Jones.

Is it a failure, or is it a growth opportunity? by Kay Bruner. So much grace here. (You may also be interested in Kay’s interview with Sarita Hartz.)

We Need Each Other by Renette. I like this perspective. Reminds me of discussions on community and culture in Alissa Wilkinson’s book How to Survive the Apocalypse. (And you know I always love anything reminiscent of culture critic Alissa Wilkinson.)

 

HOMESCHOOLING AND PARENTING

Calculus is the peak of high school math. Maybe it’s time to change that. by Sarah D. Sparks. Has me thinking.

The Problem With Hurrying Childhood Learning by Justin Minkel. I’m always a big fan of a non-hurried childhood.

Education is a dangerous thing: a conversation with Wendell Berry. Long interview, but good, especially the bit on “education for homecoming”

 

FOR WRITERS AND ARTISTS

You Are Not Your Work: On Receiving (and Ignoring) Feedback by Jonathan Rogers.

 

OTHER CULTURAL CONCERNS

Why America is the World’s First Poor Rich Country by Umair Haque.

How can we untangle white supremacy from medieval studies? Important conversation with David M. Perry and Helen Young.

What Google Bros Have in Common with Medieval Beer Bros: the exclusion of women from coding fits perfectly into centuries of labor history by David M. Perry. Enlightening but concerning.

Prominent Democratic Feminist Camille Paglia Says Hilary Clinton ‘Exploits Feminism’ by Sam Dorman. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, this is a fascinating read.

‘We’re teaching university students lies’, an interview with Dr. Jordan Peterson. I don’t agree with everything here, but there is much food for thought.

Could managed consumption be a better form of treatment for alcoholism? by Sasha Chapin. Also intriguing.

 

QUOTES

Found on Randy Alcorn’s Twitter and I believe quoting John Piper:

“It is sentences that change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge… I do not remember 99% of what I read, but if the 1% of each book…I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99%.”

From Doug McKelvey on the Rabbit Room, quoting G.K. Chesterton:

“Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men [or young women!], but one…”

Here’s the best explanation I’ve ever heard of how children can follow the 5th commandment, starting with childhood and extending into adulthood in this order. From a sermon at Legacy Christian Church (my parents’ home church, where we’re going this summer and where my kids participated in a fabulous week of VBS.)

  • Willful obedience
  • Expressing appreciation
  • Frequent communication
  • Care for them in their frailty

 

MUSIC

So Will I (100 Billion x) by Hillsong. Yes, I like this song (along with everyone else).

Fly Away Home by Pink Zebra. A song that had me tears at the concert. Besides all the other layers of possible meaning here, to me it also represents the fact that whether I’m leaving the States for Cambodia or leaving Cambodia for the States, every time I step on a plane, I’m “flying away home.”

If you’re a TCK in a less sentimental mood, try No Roots by Alice Merton instead.

 

MOVIES

Churchill. I watched this on the plane and cried through much of it. Emotions are understated, making them all the more powerful. Coming on the heels of a semester studying World War 2 at co-op and my yearlong obsession with The Crown series, this movie gave more depth to the historical character of Winston Churchill, some insight into the challenges of marriage in politics (or ministry!), and some perspective on the atrocities and traumas of war. Well worth the watch.

Candy Jar. A fun movie. I saw my younger self in the main character probably far too much. There’s some bittersweet in this story, which took me by surprise.

Little Dorrit. I absolutely loved this BBC adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens story. Here’s my FB conversation about it.

Two Challenges That Homeschooling Families Face on the Field {A Life Overseas}

Elizabeth is at A Life Overseas. . . .

homeschool

In 2016 my friend Tanya Crossman published her book Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century. Tanya worked with Third Culture Kids in Beijing for over a decade before writing her book, and I greatly value her insight into the hearts of TCKs today.

I’m passionate about homeschooling my four TCKs, so as soon as I received my copy of her book, I skipped straight to the home school section. Here is what I found:

“The majority of homeschool families I know do an excellent job. Unfortunately, I have also mentored and interviewed TCKs who had less effective, and less pleasant homeschool experiences. Those who shared negative experiences always referred to at least one of two key issues: working alone, and lack of social interaction.”

As a parent I want to be aware of these two important issues. I spoke about them at a conference earlier this year, and though not everyone in our online community home schools (or even has children), I think these issues are pertinent enough to warrant discussion here. Youth workers, sending agencies, and others who care about the well-being of TCKs may also be interested in how to help parents approach these concerns.

Finish reading here.