Author Archives: Deb

“Inside-Out” Movie and Third-Culture Kids

Inside Out movie poster

“Inside Out” is a movie that my kids can’t stop talking about. Even now, months since we’ve watched it, my kids are still processing it and even requested a copy as a Christmas gift. My kids never ask to buy movies let alone go on about them weeks later. They are still talking about the tears they cried.

I have to ask myself what was unlocked in the hearts of my TCK’s (Third Culture Kids) that has them still captivated months later?

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favor and watch it, even if you are an adult. This movie is for all generations as it deals with something that no matter what our age, we often need help in processing: our emotions.

It is the story of a girl, Riley, and the emotions that are living inside her head. Sadness, Joy, Fear, Anger and Disgust are personified as you watch the inner workings of her brain and these feelings come to life. Riley has a happily “normal” and very stable life, growing up in the same town and house. Most of her memories are tinted with “Joy”. “Sadness” rarely plays a part in her childhood and is pushed to the side to make room for the prevailing “Joy”.

Life is relatively easy for Riley until she moves across the country to a new state, new house, new school and a whole new life. Life as she knows it is uprooted, lost and unfamiliar. In the midst of the move, she seems to also lose herself. Suddenly even her joyful memories are all tinged with sadness because they represent what is far away and lost. Sadness and anger begin to take center stage in her brain and joy is seemingly lost forever. Resolution comes when Joy and Sadness realize they can co-exist and that it is ok to be joyful and sad at the same time.

The ability to grieve allows “Joy” to be released. When Riley is keeping all her pain inside, pretending everything is OK, even though her world is falling apart, then sadness drowns out the joy. When she realizes that the precious memories of all she has left behind are still joyful, even if she misses them and is sad, then she is set free to embrace life.

This truth is what connected to the hearts of my Third Culture Kids. My kids have left grandparents, cousins and loved ones to live a life miles away in another country and culture. This movie connected to their hearts because it gave them permission to talk about the joy and pain of their losses.

On the way home in the car from the movie theater, I asked them, “do you ever feel joy and sadness at the same time?”

They immediately began talking about America and family there. When they think about the fun times they had in the US, they also feel a sadness. When they recall memories of building a snowman with grandma, learning to play baseball with grandpa, going to camp with cousins, celebrating birthdays with aunts and uncles, they are full of joy, yet also sadness.

These were some of my Third-Culture Kids’ comments:

“It’s sad because you miss them so much, but happy because it was so fun.”

“I want to go to America to live, but if I went there, I would miss my friends here (in South Africa).”

“When I am visiting America, it is great, but I also miss my friends in South Africa”.

Joy and pain, pain and joy intermingle and interwoven and it is ok. It is ok to grieve the losses from our home country, the family we miss and long to be with. Yet it is ok to feel at home in our new land and love the people here even as our hearts long for loved ones far away.

This is a constant reality of all who have moved far from “home” and a very unique reality to Third Culture Kids. It is even my reality as one who lives overseas. I am freed again to acknowledge my own grief, the things that I leave behind, and know it is Ok to embrace both the Joy and Sadness at the same time.

If you know a TCK, go watch it with them and weep and laugh and realize that without the pain, the joy would not be as sweet. Talk about the joys and sadness they carry and allow them to express them to you afresh. Allow this movie to unlock your heart and the heart of your TCK. It is in grieving our losses that we are able to receive the gift of joy.

An Everyday Abolitionist: Take the challenge!


Sometimes you may think you have to be some kind of professional to change the world, especially when it comes to important stuff like human trafficking. But I have a radical thought: You can be ordinary to do the extraordinary.

A stay-at-home-mom can be an abolitionist.

Well, let me tell you, I am mostly a mother. Yes, we are connected to an anti-trafficking organization, and yes I happen to be a “missionary” but mostly, truly, very truly, I am a mother. My life is mostly the ordinary business that fills most mother’s lives around the world. Cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, running kids to activities, and even homeschooling. Sometimes my life is so full of the “stuff” of life that I cannot imagine how I can make a difference in the “real” stuff.

But then God.

We serve a God who specializes in breaking into the ordinary, mundane moments of our lives and making them extraordinarily miraculous.

This week I have been especially burdened by the young age of the girls in our city who are falling prey to sexual exploitation and violence. I have felt burdened to pray, to cry with God at this heart-breaking reality.  I know how powerful prayer is yet I somehow felt small and helpless.

Then I was driving home from dropping my daughter to school and passed a shopping center and I knew I must take action. A few weeks before I was looking at school supplies with my kids at this stationary shop, only to turn around and find my son staring at a pornographic cartoon greeting card, directly at his eye-level on the shelf. I quickly left the shop in a rush and an outrage.

Now, I felt God saying…”You are disturbed by the sexual violence but this is where it starts, in subtle ways. You can put a stop to this.” I went to speak to the manager, whispering prayers along the way, and showed him the pornographic cards, directly across from Children’s books. He was shocked, saying that the distributor put them there without him even knowing. He removed all the cards and thanked me.


It was so easy. A very small thing. Something small that a stay-at-home-mom can do, yet I felt so empowered. I can change the world with my voice. I can make a difference.

From there I stopped at a clothing outlet. A middle aged man was tediously sorting through little girl panties, picking out every pair of white G-strings in the smallest size. He stood before me in line and purchased 20 of them. As he left I asked the cashier if that seemed creepy to her. She confided to me that they get several men come in and purchase sexy girl things in mass quantity. I got to share with her about human trafficking, sex trafficking of young women and girls. She asked me to bring her more information and what to do if she saw men like this again.

You can change the world in the midst of your ordinary. You can be an every day abolitionist.

1. Get informed about human/sex trafficking. A very simple place to start is here: The A-21 Campaign

2. Pray. A good place to start: The Salvation Army’s Human Trafficking Prayer Guide

3. Allow God to meet you in the midst of the everyday. God will open up your eyes, allow you to see things, use your voice to speak out and give you opportunities to take action.

And you don’t need a degree or even leave the country.

It is that easy.

Why? Because God is looking for ordinary, everyday people who are driving to work, pumping gas, shopping, and even stay-at-home moms to carry the burdens on His heart and make a difference. It is that simple.

Take the challenge and comment below. Encourage me with your stories of God using you in the everyday.

(**Photo credit: Ralph… a demonstration in Cape Town he was a part of that sought to shut down a night club where the women working there are allegedly trafficked.)

As you watch Oscar’s trial…remember


“Another 3-year-old raped in the city this year”

And it is only March.

This newspaper headline is posted on a pole, in my face, as I drive my 5-year-old daughter to her play school in Cape Town. There it is, one single line, flashing past so quickly, I almost miss it. It is almost drowned out amidst the rest of the headlines stuck to every other pole that give the latest updates on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.

It is exciting to watch a real live murder mystery unfold, but the reality is, we are blind.

We can’t see the forest for the trees.

This Oscar tree is blocking our view on the reality of South Africa. Reeva didn’t miss it. She was planning to wear black, the very week she was killed, in honor of all her sisters in South Africa who are being murdered, raped and abused by an intimate partners or family members.

Dear world, as you watch the Oscar trial, please don’t miss the point. Please see that the women of South Africa need your voice. They need your prayers and they need you to care.

A report on violence against women in the world states that South Africa has “the highest rate ever reported in research anywhere in the world.” A woman in South Africa is killed by her intimate partner every 6 hours, the highest rate of intimate partner violence in the world. And if it wasn’t for the fact that Oscar is a celebrity, this murder would be a silent, nameless, faceless, statistic.


South Africa is a frightful place for a girl to grow up. One in 3 men are rapists. The President was charged with rape. The police too often rape those who come to report rape. Pastors, teachers, fathers, brothers, too many cannot be trusted and we are all weeping.


In the words of a 12-year-old girl who was a participant in our “Justice Creates” course last year:


Her is her poem:


Ow! Ow! Lord what

have we done now?

Why did they not listen

to us when we say “Enough is Enough!”?

All our Mothers, Sisters and

our families are crying because

of this rape. They don’t want

to lose their children because of this rape.

But now we don’t trust our

Fathers, Brothers and our Uncles

because of this rape.

I wish they will rot in jail and

they will be punished by God.

Nelson Mandela gave us freedom.

But now all our Brothers and Sisters

and die because of this rape.

Enough is Enough!!!

So as you watch Oscar’s trial from your easy chair or check out the latest tweet about the trial from your smart phone, whisper a prayer for our South African daughters, mothers, girlfriends, the girls of South Africa. Pray that our elections in a few months will bring forth South African leaders who care about this violence and will be a voice for the sisters. Pray that this nation will value all of our women not just the celebrities.

Enough is enough.

IMG_6100(****All photos in this post are of the beautiful girls who particpated in our “Justice Creates” program that allows them to give a voice to their journey.)


2013… A Bad Year? or Good moments….

In the past weeks I have seen so many posts on Facebook referring to what a “bad” year 2013 was and how 2014 will be “the year”. Things like: “I am kicking 2013 out of here!” “So glad to say goodbye to 2013, good riddance!”… you get the point.

One particular post like this made me stop and think. A friend wrote that she wanted to kick her “terrible” 2013 out the door. I know that she experienced many painful losses over the past year, but I also saw her rejoice in many victories that blessed myself and countless others.

It made me ponder… why are we so quick to allow the pain, the hard times, the struggle to define our life instead of the joys be our life’s headline?

I have a tradition of ending each year by reflecting personally, month-by-month on God’s blessings and recording them in my journal. When looking at the year as a whole, it is so easy to only recall the bad. Somehow pain tends to scream loudest.

But when we break down our year, month by month, looking at moments, recalling conversations, answered prayers, ordinary miracles, we are suddenly drowned in gratefulness.

I encourage you to take a moment, if you haven’t already, before 2013 slips too far away, and reflect on your life. See the gems in the midst of the fire. The triumphs that are truly larger than the pain. Look month by month, moment by moment and find the whisper of redeeming grace. May Love be the banner over your year.

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace”. ~Frederick Buechner

If you have a moment, allow me to take you on a photo journey of my monthly graces  from 2013…


My mom and Aunt Marcia visiting us in South Africa

My mom and Aunt Marcia visiting us in South Africa


A long time vision became reality...watching God

A long time vision became reality…watching God bring healing through creativity


God took me back to Thailand after 11 years to show me how He makes all things new

God took me back to Thailand after 11 years to show me how He makes all things new


Began Creativity and life skills course in Lavender Hill, a gang-ridden community.. another promised fulfilled.

Began Creativity and life skills course in Lavender Hill, a gang-ridden community.. another promised fulfilled.



God opened the doors for the youth we worked with to have their art work displayed in a local gallery… here is one of the beautiful pieces



Bikes rides as a family through German parks

Germany summer: cake and coffee with friends, celebrating Ralph's birthday in the garden surrounded by precious friends

Germany summer: cake and coffee with friends, celebrating Ralph’s birthday in the garden surrounded by precious friends


Celebrating the 4th of July with backyard fireworks and family

Celebrating the 4th of July with backyard fireworks and family


Sharing with Lancaster friends who surrounded us with love and prayers

Sharing with Lancaster friends who surrounded us with love and prayers



Family reunions…priceless


Our kids dream come true... blessed with Legoland Germany tickets. Spent the day with some our best friends.

Our kids dream come true… blessed with Legoland Germany tickets. Spent the day with some of our best friends.

Globe Mission candidate school... truly one of the best things of our year!

Globe Mission candidate school… truly one of the best things of our year!


Celebrated our 8th anniversary

Celebrated our 8th anniversary


A surprise visit from one of our favorite people...

A surprise visit from one of our favorite people…



Celebrating and remembering a legend amidst the people of his homeland…


Loaded Gun Laid Down…

I am a pacifist. That is not a popular confession to make, especially when you are an American. Enough said. But I have another confession to make,  I struggle with using the violence of words.

As iron sharpens iron, my dear husband has pointed out to me, held a mirror up to me, ever so gently, and hinted that my words are like ammunition. More often than I like to admit, when I would disagree, I would shoot perfectly formed “word bullets” of sarcasm, wit or simply put-downs that would seem to make me the winner of the “war”.

War? When has this pacifist been prone to war? And really, truth told, when the words are spewed, no one really feels like a winner. Any hint of power I feel is over-ridden by the truth of a broken, distanced relationship that needs mending.

God has been working me over in this area of the tongue. This verse just kills me.

5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
James 3 The Message

So I am seeking God to change this in my life but knowing my great propensity to absolutely blow it in the heat of the moment, I am surprised today. I am surprised that when a lady came at me last night, with guns loaded, shooting me down with warring words, in front of others, then if that was not enough, followed it up with an email just to prove her point and I do not fight back. But all night I am loading my war gun with the perfect words. I awake and there is this senseless peace that overtakes me and I just want to lay the gun down.

My husband looks at the email. He asks if I am going to respond and I say no. He looks shocked but so am I. Peace that truly passes my comprehension floods over me and I realize that the bravest thing to do is walk away from this war.

“No weapon formed against us shall prosper”. This is what is going through my head. And also this, “In this world you will have trouble, but be encouraged, I have overcome the world.” These Jesus words are filling my heart and mind and the loaded gun is lost in this truth that is overcoming me.

The One who has ultimately won all wars has won me. The One of Peace has somehow captured this so-called pacifist in this moment with the assurance that, yes there will be always guns aimed at me, this is life in this world, but my laying down my right to warring words is proof that I am living for another Kingdom.

This is victory. This is the miraculous. A gun loaded with words, laid down in willingness and peace because Someone bigger has been hearing the prayers of my broken heart and has tamed this war-prone tongue in spite of myself.

One battle won. My words 0… Peace…1

One down, but oh so many days that provoke warring words, to come.

So help me God…