December 9th, 2009




Hopefully you know by now (unless you’ve just stumbled across our blog) that we are planning to work with missionary kids at Black Forest Academy. As part of our preparation, I’ve been reading (rather slowly) Third Culture Kids by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken. Missionary kids are third culture kids (TCKs), which means they’ve spent a significant period of their formative years outside their passport countries. I’ve also been going to counseling for the past few months. One of the things that keeps coming up, in the book and counseling, is grief.

I moved a lot growing up. I believe I moved 12 times in my first 14 years of life. I don’t know if I technically qualify as a TCK, but I do relate to some of the aspects of TCK life. One thing I’d never realized is that there is a grieving process to moving. Let me tell you, that was an eye-opening chapter. According to the book, the transition cycle for moving is Involvement, Leaving, Transition, Entering and Reinvolvment. Okay, in and of itself, that doesn’t really mean much. The wow moment for me was reading about the Leaving stage, which isn’t talking about getting on a plane and heading to your new home, although that’s part of it, but about emotionally removing yourself from your home. You begin to loosen emotional ties, back out of responsibilities and refrain from taking new ones, and stop making new friends.

So, for the first time, I’m aware of this process. We’re in this strange sort of limbo. We’re preparing to move to another country to start a whole new life. We’ve basically sold all of our possessions, we’ve moved in with friends, we’ve given our cat away, we’ve quit our jobs, but we’re still here. And, instead of pulling away from our relationships, we’re strengthening them and making new ones, because everyone here is vital to our success at BFA. And I don’t mean financially, although we do need money, but, emotionally and spiritually. The people here will, in many way, sustain us as we serve in Germany. Instead of distancing ourselves from friends, family and church, we’re trying to become even more connected to our lives here, so that we have an anchor of people from which we can launch ourselves into BFA.

And it’s weird.

People ask me how things are going and how we’re doing, and I don’t really know what to tell them. We’ve sold all of our stuff, all of our wedding gifts. We never took any photos of our apartment, the only home we’ve know since we’ve been married. We’re living with someone else. We gave our cat away, and I bawled and I want her back. We want to be in Germany, but we’re not. We want to get to know our friends better and to love them better, but then it will hurt that much more when we have to leave.

So I think I’m experiencing grief. I’m glad to know that is what’s happening, and that it’s normal, and that it will keep happening. But it’s strange.

I’ve been thinking about home, and what that means. TCKs often don’t know where home is. I can identify with that right now, because, apparently, home isn’t a place. It’s not your things. Or where you live. Or comfort food.

What I’m trying to get at is that this whole missionary thing can be hard at times, and we haven’t even left yet. We’re in process. We’re learning and changing and grieving. I’m grieving the apartment (that I never liked), and our possessions (that I wasn’t very attached to) and our cat (whom I loved). I guess the fact that I even care about leaving our apartment shows that this really is a transition. And maybe it really is a sacrifice. It didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice before it happened, and even now, it doesn’t seem like much of one. And I’m actually glad to do it, because I’m so excited about what God has for us at BFA. But I guess it is a sacrifice to leave all of your things and what you’ve known, for something that has no guarantees.

I guess I wanted to let you all know how we, or at least I, am doing. In one sentence, I think this whole transition period is strange. That’s really the best word I can think of to describe it.

9 Responses to “Grief”


  • Melinda says:

    You have amazing insight and I am so proud of you guys and taking this step of faith to do something out of the box. You will always have 100% support from us, your family…you are a great wife, sister, daughter and friend..thanks for being who God created you to be! I love you! Momma J

  • Mom says:

    I need to read this book. I can totally relate. I’m proud of you for working through this. Moving so much was hard on all of us. Hmmm, can I borrow the book? I love you so much. I hope you get to go to Germany soon, it will be an amazing time for you and Israel.

    • Dani says:

      Mom, I definitely think you’re probably a domestic TCK, if that’s possible. You can borrow the book, but I haven’t finished it yet. Want to read it the week we’re in Texas?

      Thanks for being proud of us, Mommas.

  • Hannah says:

    That registered completely with me. Me tally preparing and realizing that I’m going to potentially be away from familiarity and people I love for the rest of my life. But then realizing, as well, that God meets all my needs, not just tangibly, but emotionally, and also with people. The transition IS hard, but when you are finally in the center of God’s will, it’s not so much hard anymore, you definately have the grace to live and grow and love again. It’s scary to be away from family, and not be able to just hop in a car and see them whenever you want, or be at holiday things, it sucks. At least you and Israel are going through this together ๐Ÿ™‚ makes the process less overwhelming. Gods hand is on your lives, he’ll never give you stones when you ask for bread, so he’s pretty much the best and only thing.

    Love you!!!

  • Brett says:

    Great post, Dani. Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability. We love you guys and are praying for you!

  • Glory says:

    Hey Dani,

    I love you guys so much! Hearing that is good for me too. Everything happens for a reason. I know this and I know that God has the best for us in mind. It is sometimes hard for me to remember that, but I know it is true. When I worry that things are not going the way they should or worrying that Shaun and I are not where we should be, it helps for me to remember that God does have good plans for us and that He will not give us more than we can handle. God is using this transition to teach you some things…at least that is what it looks like. Keep learning Dani…know that we love you, we will take good care of Felin, and you can come use your furniture and kitchen utensils any time.

  • Malinda says:


    Thank you for your honesty. I’m praying for this transition time for you and Israel. God is GOOD!


  • Emylou says:

    I am one of those people who stumbled on to your site while I was looking for information to write about my TCK articles. ๐Ÿ™‚ As an adult TCK, I can relate. It is so hard not to have a place to call home. For me, home is where I am at the moment. I’ve also recently just learned that for TCKs their sense of belonging does not come from a place but from a community of TCKs. Thanks for posting this and sharing your journey.


  • Dennis says:

    Felin is in good hands…and seems to have taken over the place.

    Grief is a journey made bearable by intimacy with Christ and others…

    My son married a very wise woman…