Recounting God’s Faithfulness from Season to Season

By Gina Butz

Leaving East Asia was devastating for our son, Ethan. We left behind what felt like an almost idyllic community setting. Our last year there, we knew about 60 school age kids, most of them homeschooled like ours, who lived within a two-mile radius of us. Scarcely a day went by that our kids weren’t outside with friends they’d known all their lives.

Several nights that first year here, Ethan cried himself to sleep. “It was so perfect!” he would say as he recalled our previous experience.

It was over two years before he surprised us one day by announcing that he was joining the archery team at school. When he came home from the first practice and declared, “Mom, I finally feel like I’m part of a group again,” I breathed a sigh of relief. That group became an enviable squad of guys and girls who stuck close by him through the rest of high school and graduation.

The night before he left for college, as we talked and prayed about this new season, he lamented, “I’ve had such an amazing group of friends here. I don’t know how I’ll ever find something like that again.”

I’m normally a pretty empathetic mom, but in that moment my gut response was, “Are you kidding me??”

I reminded him of those early days here, when he grieved the loss of his friendships from overseas, how he thought he would never have that again. I pointed out that these friends he was leaving behind were an unexpected provision of God’s, just like those childhood friends. The God who provided his friends overseas is the same God who provided for him in this season. Would He not then go ahead and provide for him in the next one?

While the transient life of an MK can be discouraging, it can also be a way for us to witness God’s faithfulness. While we cannot say how God will provide, or when (we certainly wouldn’t have chosen for Ethan to have to wait two years for God to give him the group of friends he did here) we know that He goes before us into each new season.

He sees our needs. He knows how He will provide for them. But it’s easy to forget this.

That’s why it’s so important for us to be in a practice of recounting His faithfulness. As we take time to consider the gifts He has given us in each place, we are encouraged to look forward with hope when He calls us to move on.

Two years later, Ethan is doing well in college. God has provided once again, with solid community in his church and other places. Each season that God brings us to is an opportunity to see Him provide for us, and to encourage us to trust that He will be good.

Gina recently wrote her first book, Making Peace with Change: Navigating Life’s Messy Transitions with Honesty and Grace, which releases in February. We are so excited to share this book with you and look forward to having Gina as a guest writer with us in the future!

Gina Butz and her husband, Erik, have served with Cru for nearly 25 years, 13 of which they spent in East Asia. They are currently raising their two third culture kids and an imported dog in Orlando, Florida, where Gina serves in global leadership development at Cru headquarters.. She blogs at www.ginabrennabutz.com and loves to connect on Twitter and Facebook.

Traditions and Home

It is my favorite time of year! I love the tradition and memories that come with this holiday season. Christmas trees, the music, lights on the street lamps, hot apple cider, cold mornings, the anticipation of snow (so maybe not so much here in Florida, but I can always dream of a white Christmas when I visit my family in South Carolina).

One of my absolute favorite parts of this season is the celebration of Advent. Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas we began the countdown. I’ve always been lucky enough to go to a church that celebrates Advent in a very traditional way. Each Sunday families or groups of friends go up on stage together in between Christmas carols and do the advent reading. Once the reading is done they light an advent candle. There are five candles, four for the four Sundays before Christmas and one for Christmas Eve. Growing up I thought that once a candle was lit, it stayed lit consistently until Christmas. It was just this year that I realized how impossible and silly that was.

I think I love the traditions, the lighting of the candles because it reminds me of home. It’s been a part of my life as long as I can remember. Even when we’ve moved and all the people have changed, the traditions have stayed the same. Celebrating Advent, the expectant hope of Christ, has not. Each of these little things has brought pieces of home wherever I have gone.

What traditions do you celebrate this holiday season that bring a little bit of home into your life?

Culture and Identity in God's Kingdom

By Bekah Leary

Identity is a common conference and dinner conversation topic for TCKs. We’ve all heard some talk given on how we can’t ever answer the “Where are you from?” question or about where we should place our identity as Third Culture Kids. As someone who has moved around and lived in several different places (Virginia, Alabama, Ukraine, Hungary, to name a few), it is difficult to reconcile all these cultures and experiences. As I continue to move, the tools or facets that help me flourish in a new place come from all of the cultures I’ve lived in and been a part of before. This fact can make me feel one of two ways: I can feel confused and unsettled, or thankful and excited about all of the various cultures that have helped form my identity. Through all of this, I take comfort in the fact that no matter where I am living or how I reconcile my cultural identity, I have an identity in Christ. I am His daughter and a part of His family. 

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Lament

In church, this past week, the week before Thanksgiving, we talked about Lament.

Lament means to express sorrow, to mourn, to be sad.

The congregation was confused about why we were talking about lament during a week when we should have been talking about thanksgiving. The winter holidays are my favorite time of year, they are also the time of the year that my heart hurts the most.

This is the time of year when I feel the brokenness of the world and the brokenness within myself most acutely. My longing for home and wholeness is magnified. Even here in sunny Florida, the days shorten and there is so much more darkness than light.

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Finding Community in Transition: Part 3

So, what can we do? 

By Bekah Leary

So, now that we’ve talked about reasons that we may be hesitant to form relationships with people around us, what can we do instead? 

Be empathetic; be open to new ideas and perspectives. Be willing to have your mind changed or broadened. A good passage for me to remember when I am interacting with people who have drastically different viewpoints or belief systems than me is this: 

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

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Finding Community in Transition: Part 2

What keeps us from finding community/forming relationships? 

By Bekah Leary

In my last post, I talked about the importance of Christian community, which is something that I think most of us can agree on. But usually, in a transition, we enter a new place where we don’t have a lot of community automatically. And when we are in the midst of a transition, it can be hard to seek out community. Whether we are in the “chaos” stage of transition, still learning our way around, or just emotionally and mentally exhausted, we don’t always want to get to know the people around us or have them know us.

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Finding Community in Transition: Part 1

Why We Need Community

By Bekah Leary

I love talking about community. I love it because it reflects so much of God’s heart and character. God is a Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is a relationship, three in one. 

Since we are people made in God’s image, we are meant to live in community with other people; we see this in the early church, in God’s plan for marriage, and in Paul’s need for community. Even Jesus surrounded himself with people. God did not intend for us to live life on our own-we need other believers around us for several reasons. Being a follower of Jesus is a battle and we need others to:

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