TCK Re-entry and Processing Retreat

Coming soon! We are so excited to offer a weekend retreat for ATCKs, ages 18-25.

Click here to complete the registration form.

Click here to pay the $100 registration deposit (select the TCK Retreat Registration).

March 2024: Heading to Guadalajara!

Watch the video on our facebook page.

2023 End of Year Update
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We are so grateful for many things this year and just one is all of you that follow and encourage us. Now that Ankyrios International is a recognized 501(c)(3), we are part of Amazon Smile. I’m sure many of you will be shopping at amazon this week. Please shop through amazon smile and support Ankyrios International. Thank you!! Happy Thanksgiving!

What is a TCK anyways and why are they important?

I’ve spent the last few months learning as much as my brain could absorb on TCKs and how we can better care for them and their parents. The momma and teacher in me love this expanded category in ministry. Read more below…

(I apologize for the overlap typing above. It’s not there when I edit, so I can’t make it go away.)

A little side note on the transition story above…I’ve learned over the last few months that saying goodbye is appropriate more times than not. I think in the military “See you later” became the preferred phrase because, well, the unthinkable could happen to your military service member and we just couldn’t bear saying goodbye. We desperately wanted to believe that they would come home and we would see them later. But saying goodbye to those friends that moved or when we moved would have in most cases helped my kids. We did see many of them again through travel or returning to the same duty stations, but our daily lives changed. The friends that we spent time with several times a week were now just a once in awhile phone call or maybe video call. Our lives changed and that needed the goodbye. Painful as it is, transition is a long process with no shortcuts. Ending one season well, and that means doing the goodbyes, helps us to start fresh in the new place.

An Overview of 2021 in Pictures (and a few words)
Fall 2021

This update was posted to our facebook group back in September 2021. I dropped the ball and failed to post it here. So to those of you that only follow our website, I am so sorry for being silent on here.

We’ve been a bit quiet over the last few months as we process a lot of changes in the Kelly family. I’ve been trying to think of how to explain it all…

The Kellys are making a shift.

We’re pivoting our ministry.

We have land under our feet.

There’s a lot of green around us and not much blue.

The end of June we put the boat away where she’ll get to rest for a year. We emptied 7 years worth of stuff. Deep compartments have been hiding all sorts of treasures and “why do we still have this?” items. Hope officially graduated high school on June 30.

We spent the month of July in Colorado with my family. We had an opportunity to meet up with two “old friend” families at 2 national parks. That was so much fun! The not so fun part of the month – I had the vein ablation procedures that had been planned for last year (before they discovered my left iliac vein was only working at roughly 14% and had to fix it first). The vein ablations didn’t go as planned…I had an odd reaction to valium causing muscle spasms during the procedure, intense swelling and numbness (still some numbness 7 weeks later), an allergic reaction to lidocaine which was used to fill the length of the veins prior to the actual laser ablation, two rounds of prednisone, an infection requiring a visit to the ER, IV antibiotic and 2 different oral antibiotics, an allergic reaction to one of the oral antibiotics. I still have some pain but it now only hurts if I’ve been sitting for awhile and the dying vein needs to be stretched again. That’s happening less and less now. I have one place where the vein is close to the skin and it seems to have scarred together. My right calf is still numb in places because the vein is against the muscle. The vein irritates the muscle and vice versa. It’s a slow, slow healing process. I still have light bruising and tenderness the entire length of the veins, but it is improving.

The end of July we packed everything from my parents’ and headed to Pittsburg, Texas (“Why Pittsburg?” you ask, an amazing story for another time). We moved into the Harmony Mission House where we’ll be for about a year. Hope started classes at Northeast Texas Community College two weeks ago. She likes her professors and is making new friends.

Dennis is using this time on land to work on his doctoral project. He plans to finish it and graduate in the spring. It’s a huge undertaking.

I’m working on new certifications working with Third Culture Kids (TCK). I’ve already completed one on debriefing. Keep an eye out for my new “certified debriefer” logo. 😉

As for our ministry to missionaries and pastors – we will continue to work with our current missionaries through online sources. We have a trip planned to La Paz, Mexico, where we’ll have the opportunity to meet with many in person. We’ll be (especially Dennis) working with/mentoring the local pastors and their families here in northeast Texas.

We ask for your prayers as this is a hard transition. We just moved to a small town where everyone knows everyone. We all feel out of place.

Do you remember my post from a couple of years ago when I talked about colors? It described how we all change when we’ve been to new and different places. We may come from a “blue country” and then spend time in a “yellow country.” We become a blend of the two, “green.” We don’t quite fit in in either place. Well, we’re not even just green anymore. We’ve experienced all sorts of colors and have become muddled.

-Pray for our kids to be true to themselves and not try to adapt to what they think people want them to be (same for me 😬).

-Pray for us to find a balance with all the good things vs great things that are offered here with homeschooling, church, other activities, and not get too busy or stretched too thin.

-Please pray for Hope as she’s walking an entirely new path. College is already proving demanding (lots of homework) and she’s also started a part time job in the bakery of the grocery store across the street.

-Pray for Dennis’ diligence in his studies and research. He finished his academic courses in 2016, but our time on the boat didn’t allow for enough study time, connectivity for research, or even a desk to work at.

-And for me, land based living is a lot less physically demanding than sailboat life (which is a nice break), but I am missing our home. Oddly enough, our sailboat is the most stable home we’ve ever had – 7 years onboard vs, at the most, 3 years anywhere with the Navy. We have kids that are lining up to finish high school over the next few years and spread their wings into the great big world. It’s a lot for my momma heart to deal with. Pray for me to encourage to our kids, help them grow and thrive, and to continue working myself out of a job.

Thank you!! We appreciate your friendship and prayers.

Bicycling, baby shower, and baby whales

After almost a month in La Paz, we sailed close to 400 miles across the Sea of Cortez to La Cruz near Puerto Vallarta. It wasn’t nearly as crowded in the anchorage as usual for that time of the year, but several kid boats all arrived on the same day, seemingly on command. The kids loved having others to hang out with, although everything looks different than pre-Covid. 

We planned to be there for about a month, but one month stretched into two. The first week we had lunch with one missionary couple, visited with old friends and went to the local bilingual church on Sunday. It was great to see the Pastor and so many others again. This was the same church we partnered with in previous years when we offered worship services in the nearby marina. Before we left La Cruz we were able to take the pastor’s family plus one of the key couples in the church out sailing and enjoyed seeing many baby humpback whales practicing their jumps. 

After the first couple of weeks in La Cruz, we took the boat into a marina and then took a one hour flight to Guadalajara. We spent a week with the Gozas again and had a wonderful time. We spent hours around their kitchen table as we all shared from the last year. We spent time with several from their ministry as well. Check out more details and photos in their newsletter. The kids joined in with their youth group. We went biking around the city with one of the local families. We visited a YWAM center near Lake Chapala and heard their amazing story of how God provided beyond what they even prayed for.

Back in La Cruz, we stayed busy. We continued going to the local church and got to know a few more people. We even had 3 other boat families/couples join us at church while they were there. The kids were the oldest among the boat kids – they ran the kids’ morning VHF radio net and were great leaders (in my opinion) at all the kids’ activities. The participated in a few beach cleanups and worked together to make a model sailboat out of trash to compete in the Trash Boat Regatta. Their Lighthouse II took first place. The predecessor, Lighthouse, took third place a few years ago. The kids had such a great time hanging out with other kids at movie nights, morning runs, pizza parties, birthday parties, Easter egg dyeing and egg hunt, helping make a video about beach clean up with the local Rotary Kids Club, and multiple trips to the nearby ice cream shop. We are so thankful for Katrina and Mike!!! 

Hope and I had the privilege of helping host a baby shower for the young missionary couple in Puerto Vallarta. The week before the shower we were able to take them plus one of their friends sailing (more baby whales!). There was already a plan by several other missionaries to host a zoom shower for her but no one was local. We were happy to stay and had so much fun making cupcakes and decorating. We are so excited for them as they approach the time to welcome their first little one!

And, of course, one extension leads to another and another, so we stayed through Hope, Micah and Seth’s birthdays and then through Easter. 

We had a Sunrise Easter Worship service on the boat out in the anchorage. There were 15 people who dinghied and paddled out in the dark to join the 7 of us. We had never even met 5 of them. It was such a beautiful day to worship our Risen Savior. Dennis preached on how Jesus met each of those in their needs on the morning He rose and how He continues to meet each of us. 

Hiking up to Monkey Mountain with missionary friends
Bicycling in Guadalajara
Taking a break in the park
Largest lake in Mexico (we went inland but had to find water).
The YWAM center is near here.
Ice cream!
Trash Boat Regatta
Baby shower!
Hope made beautiful cupcakes
We had so much fun decorating!
January in Mexico

2021 started off with a bang – quite literally as we were still in Puerto Peñasco and the fireworks can get pretty loud there. We left January 2nd, heading south towards La Paz. We spent a couple of weeks in the wonderful little community of Punta Chivato about halfway down the Baja Peninsula while we waited on better weather. We were able to spend that time reconnecting with friends that we met two years ago and make some new ones. Our goal is to be a light for Jesus wherever we go and whatever we do. Isn’t that what we are all called to do?

We made it to La Paz in the middle of January, a week before the missionary conference. Having a schedule on a sailboat isn’t usually a good thing – it can cause one to take chances not normally taken, so we were thankful to get there a week early. Unfortunately, due to tighter local COVID-19 restrictions, the directors made the difficult decision to move the conference to zoom. But it wasn’t a total loss. It never is when God is in the details.

We ended up spending a month in La Paz. We were able to meet with several missionaries, representing seven different ministries within La Paz. We worked within the restrictions by meeting individually, as well as in small groups. We were even able to take two groups out for daysails. Small world moment – Remember when Dennis and Caleb had to take a four hour uber ride last June to catch up with me and the other 4 in Loreto? Well, one of those that came on a daysail was their uber driver! He and his wife are an important part of the ministry of one of the missionary couples. It was a great opportunity to get to know them a little better (and work on our Spanish).

We also had an opportunity to support a local friend of one of those missionaries by using our Christmas present. My parents sent us money to do something unique and amazing. They’ve done this every year since we started sailing. Last year we went zip-lining in a Costa Rican rain forest. This year we went swimming with whale sharks. Thanks so much Mom and Dad!

Choosing to Thrive

This time of quarantine is not one any of us could have prepared for, and certainly meets the definition of adversity. Back up just a few months to the beginning of 2020 and none of us would have imagined the entire world (more or less) would be shut down – no travel, schools are closed, offices are closed. Only essential businesses are open. Now we all need to find a way to not only survive this pandemic, but hopefully to thrive through it. We should use this time to reflect, decide what’s truly important, and determine what parts of “normal” we really want to return to. It’s an opportunity to reset.

Seven people living on a 38’ sailboat for almost 6 years has given us some experience with isolation. Going out to eat or easy access to stores is not something we have. We typically do our own laundry in a bucket, make do with the food we have onboard, I cut everyone’s hair (including my own), and when we do go to the store, we take our dinghy to shore and then we walk. We spend a lot of time sailing and sitting in anchorages, sometimes with very few other people nearby. When we do meet up with other boats and other kids, there’s a chance they may not get along. Thankfully, they often do because boat kids love other boat kids – they instantly have something in common. When we go to shore, it’s usually a new place. We’re learning our way around, finding what’s available, figuring out a new currency, meeting new people (missionaries) and jumping in to their routines, and many times, it’s almost all in another language. 

We intentionally made the decision to downsize and squeeze into 380 square feet during Dennis’ last tour in the Navy. Two years later, after Dennis spent 21 years in the Navy, we felt it was time to for him to retire. Dennis had watched as the kids kept growing and he had been gone more than he had been home. He felt they were starting to drift away. We also felt God was calling us to something else and we wanted this new ministry to be something we did together as a family. The past 6 years haven’t been easy in a small space. We’re always in each other’s way, as one person literally has to move for another to pass. Emotions can run high and tempers can flare, but we also have to know how to resolve those conflicts and how to forgive. Our family is close, physically and emotionally. While we haven’t loved every minute of being in such confined quarters, we are so very glad we’ve had this opportunity to really know our kids – to be their friends, as well as their parents, to laugh together, learn together, and serve together. I hope that you all are seeing the positive aspect of this forced halt in your lives and have taken the opportunity to really get to know your family. 

I’ve been pulling together a list of resources and ideas that are helpful to us and may be helpful to many of you. We normally do not have access to wifi, just the small amount of data on our cell phones (3GB/month) when we are close enough to shore. Sitting in a marina (as the Mexican government has requested boats to limit movement) gives us access to wifi (still only about half the speed available in the US) and opens up a whole new experience for us. In fact, we feel LESS isolated now with the world moving to virtual meetings. Our older 3 are joining in on youth group and getting to do video chats with friends. Our oldest two are taking an online college course – we usually do our schoolwork the old fashioned way, with real books! Dennis and I are working on a course in member care, and we all get to join our churches back in the US for worship services. There are many wonderful things available to us all now, but make sure that you are spending more time together than time alone with a screen.

I divided the resources into four categories – Family Fun, Learning/Homeschooling, Relationships, and Other Resources. I’d love to add a book list too. Send me/comment below with some of your favorite books. Personally, I really enjoy historical fiction.

Family Fun

It’s easy to just sit around, binge watch Netflix, Disney+, or whatever. Eating snacks is easier than making healthy meals. In order to thrive, we must make plans – plan meals, make a schedule, be deliberate. If you need some time to mope (I get it, sometimes I just need a small pity party, do something mindless) then give yourself some time to mope, but then get up off the couch.

So, make some plans. Designate different nights for different activities. It’ll help the days go by and give everyone something to look forward to. We’re not saying spend every waking moment together, but plan some specific family activities. Older kids might balk at first, but they’ll come around.

  • Pick a tv series and watch it once a week: Remember when we could only watch our favorite show once a week and how much we looked forward to that? We just started watching The Dukes of Hazzard with our kids on Mondays. We also watch Little House on the Prairie another night. It’s a lot of fun to reminisce and share some of our childhood favorites with our kids.
  • Educational night: We watched an episode from PBS NOVA on how armor was made for knights. It was great and the kids can’t wait for our next educational night. We also enjoy watching Bear Grylls. You never know when you need some British Special Forces’ survival skills. 
  • Game night: Pick one of those long, time-consuming games, our family favorite is Settlers of Catan. A game of pounce (aka nertz) is great for fast moving, loud and crazy fun.
  • Movie Night: Some friends of ours at are excelling at this! Each of their kids gets to pick a theme, pick a movie, decorate, and they all come in costumes to match the theme. I am so impressed with their creativity! We just watch a movie and eat homemade pizza every Friday night. I’m feeling like a slacker.
  • Dining In: Want to go out to a restaurant? Make one at home! The kids can make a menu, cook (even young ones can put crackers and cheese on a plate or make a peanut butter sandwich), set the table, serve, and even clean up. Dress up and have fun!
  • Dinner: If you’re like me, making dinner every night feels exhausting! If you have older kids, assign them a night. You can help with the basic planning, let them know what you have available or what needs to be consumed soon, but let them look up some recipes and have at it.
  • Listen to a podcast: Here’s our favorite kid-friendly one, Red School Bus. We all love it! Dennis went to high school with James. This is one of our favorite episodes (right after we got to meet them in St. Louis for dinner). 
  • Backyard (or indoor) camping: Set up the tent (or a blanket fort inside), start a campfire, roast some hot dogs or marshmallows and sleep outside. Spend some time outside during the day too. Sunlight is a natural virus killer and great source of Vitamin D. 
  • Go out and stargaze: If you live somewhere without bright street lights, head outside with a telescope and stargazer app. If there are too many outside lights, find an online planetarium. And while you’re at it, check out NASA’s website


Everything can be learning! This is one of the focuses of homeschooling. We make almost everything a learning experience. I keep seeing people say that their “…kids aren’t learning right now. This online school isn’t working. My kids don’t find it challenging.” This is especially true for young children. When Hope was 7, we were a part of an online charter school. They met for an online class 3 times a week. IT WAS AWFUL! They weren’t allowed to turn on their microphones and the teacher expected them to type their answers. Seven year olds typing answers, insert eye roll here. Even math problems were terrible. The teacher never gave them enough time to work out the problem and didn’t teach anything! I had to sit with her the entire time all while dealing with my other 4 (the twins were less than a year old!). Then the one hour online class would drag out to 2 to 3 hours because the teacher felt they didn’t cover enough. I can certainly see how many of you would be frustrated right now. Young kids are not designed to sit still at a computer and try to learn. Kids should be:

  • Moving – get outside if you can or come up with some physical games to play inside. Hullabaloo was one of my kids’ favorite indoor movement games when they were little, and they didn’t even need me! 
  • Reading, reading, reading! This is fundamental. Reading aloud to kids of all ages is so important! Have kids do a video call with grandparents and let them read Grandma a story, or vice versa if they are too young to read. Audio books are great also! Kids can illustrate the book as they listen. 
  • Drawing/coloring – who doesn’t love to draw/color? That’s precisely why they make adult coloring books! Pull out some paints and canvases and paint along with Bob Ross! He can take even the most stressed out person and have him smiling while painting “happy little trees.”
  • Writing (if they are old enough), telling stories, explaining how something works…written and oral communication are so important!
  • Cooking – following recipes includes a lot of math and is delicious quality time.

More resources for learning at home…

  • An adult TCK friend, daughter of missionary friends, and once our babysitter, wrote this set of 3 read-aloud coloring books to help parents explain the current situation with their children. Recommended for ages 4-7. Available for immediate download on etsy.
  • Virtual museum tours – Contrary to what many may think, homeschoolers do not sit at home all day. We go to museums, national parks, libraries, historical sites, and SO many other places. Since we can’t go to an actual museum, check out these two sites with links to virtual tours, Timeout and Travel and Leisure.
  • Learn something new – Find something your children enjoy and learn more about it. We’re all studying marine biology now. We’re learning about the oceans we live on and the animals that surround us. We’ve now added Oceans Initiative’s online marine biology camp to our syllabus. 
  • Check out this list of 1500 online courses. Some of these are available for a fee if you want to receive credit/certification. They have the courses listed by topic. There’s a course for practically anything you can think of. I even saw a course on poker strategy from MIT and another on wine! 
  • Travel virtually – Pick somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. Find it on Google earth. Do some research, look up the top things to do there, find recipes and create a local meal from your chosen place. Read fictional and non-fictional books about that country or place. This book, Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin, has some great ideas and lists books by age and place.  


  • This is a trying time for many as we’re suddenly “stuck” at home with our family. Many are realizing that they don’t know their family or maybe even don’t like them. My parents’ church, Castleview Baptist, in Colorado, has been offering some great advice on those relationships during their online services through a series called, “Better Together.” Topics so far include, Husbands and Wives, Communication, and Cooperation in the Home. They are on live on Facebook every Sunday at 10:30am MDT.
  • Focus on the Family has some fabulous resources for couples, parents, strengthening/growing in your faith, and even ways to stay engaged in our culture. 
  • And one of my all time favorite book series for relationships – the Five Love Languages of…there’s a book for singles, couples, children, teens, and even a military edition. Gary Chapman has many other wonderful books available. 

Other Resources

  • Lindsay Braman put together a simple list to keep ourselves mentally in check while we’re home. Check out her site if you would like to print the checklist.
  • Looking for some good news? These videos are all about the good going on around us. They’re pretty funny too. 
  • TCK Training with Lauren Wells is offering a free 3 part series on helping kids work through Covid-19. She also has a 3 hour seminar coming up on May 2 on Raising Healthy TCKs. I took this seminar in February and learned a lot. It’s currently $49. Try code FEBLIVE for a 50% discount. I’m not sure if it still works, but it’s worth a try.
  • Free Growth in Crisis Series from Birch Rise Coaching (I have not personally watched these so I cannot give a recommendation either way, but wanted to share as it’s only available for a limited time.) 
  • Global Trellis put together a debriefing packet and videos designed to help us work through our experiences with Covid-19. This is aimed at the Christian worker.
  • Self-care for Missionaries during re-entry caused by the Coronavirus – another article by Sarita Hartz aimed specifically at missionaries.

If you’ve found some other sites and resources, please add them in the comment section below.

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