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Relentless Pursuit

S3E2: Don’t Say You’re OK If You’re Not

54 minutes

Taylor Murray is a TCK—a “third culture kid”—who lived in Japan from the age of nine until when she graduated high school. Although she lived in a loving family, she struggled with anxiety and an eating disorder that came to a head when she spent a gap year in Germany. While in rehab, she came to the realization that it was OK not to be OK, and she is committed to being vulnerable and transparent about her struggles—and helping others to do the same.

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Show Notes

Taylor Murray is a TCK—a “third culture kid”—who lived in Japan from the age of nine until when she graduated high school. Although she lived in a loving family, she struggled with anxiety and an eating disorder that came to a head when she spent a gap year in Germany. While in rehab, she came to the realization that it was OK not to be OK, and she is committed to being vulnerable and transparent about her struggles—and helping others to do the same.

Taylor wrote her first book about life as a missionary kid when she was 14 years old. Hidden in My Heart is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.

More recently, she wrote Stop Saying I’m Fine: Finding Stillness When Anxiety Screams, available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

You can follow Taylor on Instagram to keep up with everything she doing.

Taylor’s family was featured in our video Of Donuts and Atom Bombs. Hear how her parents respond to Japanese who are still hurting from being bombed in World War II. Also, Takuma shares his story of coming to faith through a relationship with a Pioneers worker.

Check out a photo essay, The Streets of Japan.

Read an article about How Pioneers supports TCKs.

Ready to take the next step, but not sure what it looks like? Schedule a call with our team or chat with us today.

Bonus Content


Episode Transcription

Taylor (00:01):

As a nine year old in a completely different cultural context, the only thing you want to do is fit in. You want to have friends and you want to fit in. And that was just not the case.

Matt (00:14):

This is the Relentless Pursuit podcast where we hear stories from cross-cultural workers on what it's really like to be a missionary, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So usually on the podcast we talk to missionaries, but this time we're going to talk to some people who go along for the ride that would be a T C K or an MK missionary kid or a third culture kid. And today we'll be talking to Taylor, who lived many years in Japan before she graduated high school and came back to the US for college.

Jess (00:47):

And she was actually on my team. So I had the privilege of knowing Taylor's entire family and seeing Taylor as an 11 year old and a 15 year old. And now I get to see her as an adult who is not only just living in the world, but she's also written a book recently. And so to start off today's episode, we've actually asked her to share a story, one of the pivotal moments in her journey in life in healing from anxiety that she talks about in her book.

Taylor (01:15):

So I was 18 at the time and I was on a gap year program in Germany, and it was a bible college that I was attending for a semester. I was with my twin, and I had kind of gone into this semester recognizing kind of in myself some struggles with anxiety and an eating disorder. And for me, going into this time in Germany, it was like the struggles that you have and you're like, well, maybe if I get into a different environment then it will go away. Well, that was my mindset going into this time in Germany. But the longer I was going through this gap year program, the worse that my struggles with anxiety and an eating disorder got. And I remember the day that the director's wife came up to me and just kind of gently me about what was going on and what she saw and the way that I was acting, and even physically how I was showing up in different spaces.


And that day we ended up going to the hospital in Germany, and I remember coming back and she asked me if I would tell my parents for liability reasons, and I wanted to tell them too, they didn't know anything about what was going on. I wanted to tell them, but there was so much shame that I was experiencing alongside these struggles. And I remember the night so clearly when I was sitting outside my dorm room on the floor, like crisscross apples sauce with my laptop. And even at the time differences, my parents were in Japan or Thailand at the time I was in Germany, there was a eight, nine hour time difference. And I wasn't scared of their response. I was just feeling a lot of shame for the struggles that I was experiencing. So I remember I opened up my laptop and my heart just started forming words and I just started telling them what was going on. I emailed my mom and just really openly, I shared that I'd been to the hospital and my anxiety was really bad and the eating disorder had gotten really bad and I didn't know what to put in the subject line. So I typed in prayer request


And sent it, and the next morning I woke up and I checked my email as soon as I woke up and my mom had responded, and the way that she responded, it felt like she had just come through the screen and had taken up space next to me. And the way that she responded to me, it felt like she was on this journey with me and I wasn't alone. And that was the beginning of a long journey of surrendering to my own brokenness and finding Jesus there. But yeah, that was the start.

Jess (04:13):

Yeah, I mean, it sounds, obviously we've known each other for a little while. Taylor and I know your parents as well, but I mean, it sounds like your parents have been just such a pivotal part of that journey with you, not just raising you, but even as an adult walking you through just healing and even understanding yourself. Would you say that that's accurate?

Taylor (04:38):

Yes. Yes, definitely. Yeah. Yeah.

Jess (04:42):

Tell me a little bit, how have they been kind of a part of that journey, especially when they are on the other side of the world?

Taylor (04:48):

Right. Yeah, I think just going back to, I remember when we first moved overseas, I was nine when we first moved to Japan. And I remember moving overseas, there's so many emotions that you're experiencing. There's excitement, there's grief, there's loss, there's fear, there's loneliness, there's all of these different, there's like, I'm moving to a different country. This is so cool. There's just so many different emotions. And I think one of the things that my parents have done that I've appreciated so much is met me where I am and whatever emotion I'm experiencing and helped me process it out. My first book came out of processing all of my emotions with God. And it was something that my mom had just, we went on a walk on the beach one day and it was during a home assignment, and she sensed that I was just stuffing a lot of emotions. And she said, I want you to start listing out all the emotions that you felt overseas and a time you experienced that emotion and just start writing letters to God about them. And I feel like in so many different ways they've met me and they've been so open and real with me in their own journey with God. And I think both of those things have been so formative in my walk with him.

Matt (06:17):

Yeah, that's amazing. I think a lot of people that are considering going into missions, if they have children, that is one of the main factors that influences their decision is what about my kids? How is this going to impact their development as human beings as children? How is it going to impact their relationship to God and how they perceive of him? But it sounds like your parents did a lot of thought in that area and that they didn't go into this blindly and they were really intentional about how they cared for you.


Are there other ways that you feel like they proactively cared for you as someone, a child living overseas in a foreign environment, this is not a decision you, it was made for you. They were the ones called into missions and it impacted you. So what are some other ways that they cared for you in this way?

Taylor (07:17):

Yeah, I think even thinking about that, this wasn't a decision that I chose. It was a decision that our family, ultimately my parents made, but our family made that move overseas and I think in so many different ways. If, for example, after that time in Germany, part of my story is two weeks later, I was in treatment at a residential treatment facility in Indiana, and my dad flew back with me and he was the one that helped me walk through the door. And I think in so many different ways like that, I think they helped. And there's so much processing that I had to do even through college, but over and over again, communicating in different ways that even though I was part of a missionary family, I was not a little missionary. I was a missionary kid, and it was okay to be nine when I was nine and be sad about my desk that I had to leave behind because I loved my desk, my writing desk, and it was okay to feel that way. And I think it over and over again, our family has been called overseas, and yeah, there's certain things that because of that we're going to do as a family together, but I was given permission over and over and over again to be a kid.

Jess (08:52):

Yeah, I love that what you said how your parents really kind of met you where you were. It was okay to have all the emotions that you did have. It was okay for you to be a normal 10 year old girl who's just kind of trying to figure out the world and all of that and that even amidst that, but still, you guys are figuring out Japan together and language, how to hang up your laundry and all that kind of stuff. So all those things.

Taylor (09:19):

All the things.

Jess (09:20):

Yeah. All the things that you're figuring out about Japan. I remember. Yeah. Anyways, I won't go off on my own tangents when we're interviewing you, but tell me a little bit about what the experience of being in Japan was like for you a little bit more specifically. Do you have some stories that were particularly stick out in your mind? This is what adjusting to life in Japan was like for me.

Taylor (09:43):

Yeah. Looking back on my time in Japan, I have so many beautiful memories while I was there and the people that we spent time with, our teammates, yes, it was amazing. And with all the beautiful memories, it was really, really, really hard. Absolutely. And as a nine year old in a completely different cultural context, the only thing you want to do is fit in. You want to have friends and you want to fit in. And that was just not the case when we were in at all. And I remember as a little girl going onto the playground in our neighborhood for the first time, and it was me, blonde hair, blue eyes, jeans, pink shirt, and 30 Japanese kids with their matching Asian school uniforms. And it was that moment of, I don't know, I don't fit in here. And then over and over again, I think in different environments from church, I don't know what game in Sunday school, I don't know what game we're playing right now. I don't know what this person is saying to me. I don't know what this, yeah, so many just like, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. And it was really, really hard. And I think, yeah, looking back on Japan, it was something that I've had to process a lot, graduating high school and then coming back to the states, processing that sense of belonging that I felt a lot. But recognizing that both the positive and the negatives really formed forms me and how I see God.

Matt (11:50):

I think it's hard. I know you're 25 years old, and sometimes I feel like I'm talking to someone that's older than that when I talk to you. So you're a little unusual and unique and I think it's amazing. But when this is probably part of you in some ways, I think, because you wrote a book, how old were you when you wrote your first book?

Taylor (12:20):

I was 13.

Matt (12:21):


Taylor (12:22):


Matt (12:23):

I knew it was young and I'd forgotten how young it was. I know we worked together on that book.

Taylor (12:28):


Matt (12:28):

That's true. But it's still a book. And that book has been read by not only TKs, but also adults who want to get a picture of what it's like to be a T cck. And now you've written this new book, stop saying I'm Fine. Can you tell us a little bit about the message of this book and where your heart's at with that?

Taylor (12:52):

Yeah, yeah. I think stop saying I'm Fine really came from that. It is looking back on a lot of my story as a whole, but started kind of in that place in Germany. There is this, I think it was the same day that I emailed my parents about what was going on. It was like I hit a wall, I was fetal positioned bathroom floor for an hour, door locked. God feels so far away. That's where I was at. And in that moment on the bathroom floor, I said, I'm not fine for the really first time. For the first time. And I think part of my MK story is me interpreting this message that being fine is what it means to honor God


And being happy all the time is what it means to honor God, and that it's not okay to be sad or be angry. And I think a lot of that was interpretations as a nine-year-old, like moving overseas. And when so many people come up to you and before we move and so excited that you're moving overseas, it's like I am excited that I'm moving, but there's also a lot of grief and loss I'm feeling too. And when that is always, you must be so excited, then I'm like, oh, I need to be excited. And then there's this denial of, but I'm also really sad. And it was a huge, that moment on the bathroom floor was really pivotal because I was honest with myself and with God and others eventually through the email for the first time and began really processing that message that I had been living out that I'm not fine is or I'm fine, is the message I have to live by and I'm not fine is not okay to say if you're a missionary.

Jess (15:13):

Yeah, man, I can just see there's so much complex emotion that must have been going through your heart as a nine year old. I can totally see that conflict of like, oh, I'm really sad, but everybody's so excited for me, so I don't even know how to feel. Right. And all the different things that happen in your brain to try and make that work in your life, it's just kind of so interesting to see how you're untangling all those threads now as an adult. Right. I'm just curious, I don't know if this is a weird question, but do you ever regret going to Japan with your family? Obviously you couldn't say no right at the time, but do you ever wish like, oh, we really would've been better off without that?

Taylor (16:05):

Yeah, that's such a good question. And that's one that I've really processed a lot because there were times in Japan where I was like, to be completely honest, I don't want to be here right now. I don't want to be here. This is so hard. I don't understand. I can't speak Japanese. I just want to be somewhere familiar. And when that didn't get easier, the longer that I was there, I think that that question just kept coming up. And I do wonder what life would have been like if we'd stayed in that little house in Florida that I grew up in and that I went to college. That would've been such a different life. And I think it's one of those things of I can't change it, and there are some parts of it that I wish didn't happen. And at the same time, I think just through a lot of processing and a lot of counseling have come to this place where seeing, yeah, there are some parts of it that I don't wish happened. And there are some parts that I see that God has so redeemed and that have shaped who I am, but I don't think I regret living overseas. The more that I've given myself permission to hold both sides. Yes, it was really hard. And yes, it was really good,

Jess (17:41):

Right, being fully honest with, yeah, there was suffering absolutely through your, but also recognizing just how much the Lord has done both through the suffering in spite of the suffering outside of that as well, and giving you good gifts as well. So yeah, I mean

Matt (18:04):

That's clearly shaped you as a person.

Taylor (18:06):

Yeah, it has.

Matt (18:09):

And I know that I would imagine you probably have, since you went to Germany and then came back and went to college, have probably been in contact with a lot of people your age, not necessarily TCK ss, but people that were brought up here in the US or anywhere who have the same challenges you do, who faced the same issues, and is that something you feel like God has equipped you to be able to care for others or to be more empathetic toward others because of what you went through, both growing up in an environment that is very stressful and can cause you to be disoriented, and then even coming to a life crisis where you're honest with yourself at 18, which for some of us it takes a lot longer than that to reach that point. So you're blessed, but do you think that's kind of given you some empathy and compassion for others that are your age in particular?

Taylor (19:12):

Oh, yeah, definitely. I love mks and I think I have talked to a lot of other mks and different places that I've spoken where mks are, it's like a conference for mks or I'm just spending time with mks. There's always, typically when I talk to missionary kids, this pressure that they felt growing up to be perfect and to not have issues and to always be fine. And I think a lot of that is there's so much complexity being a missionary. It's like I think often families are put on this spiritual pedestal kind of thing. And a lot of times, even coming back to the US for home assignment, it was this pressure of like, oh, I need to be fine. I need to maybe even be farther along in my spiritual journey than I am. And I think talking to a lot of mks, man, there's so many of us who, I mean, I've talked to so many who have just decided that faith isn't what they want to be in anymore.


And it's really, I think so many of us, and I've really had to process this differentiating God from some of the systems that we grow up in. And when we can't differentiate God from maybe a system that doesn't fully reflect him, then we just walk away from it all. And I think part of really processing who is God and what are some of the messages that I either interpreted or received as an MK that doesn't reflect who he actually is. Even I think of having that message of I should be farther along than I am, I kind of began to live out. I think this message that life with God is an invitation to be on his PR team and not be his child. And when the PR team member becomes is first before a child, that gets kind of messy. And so I think for me, and part of my MK journey is realizing, okay, I'm not supposed to be God's representative in the sense of, yes, we're called to be a witness, but as his child and not as a worker for him differentiate. It's not like if you don't reach your quota, you're not going to get demoted or something like that. My identity is his child first.

Matt (22:06):

And it sounds like a lot of these perceptions that you had of performance or living up to expectations, some of these were generated from the outside, but then a lot of them were internal that just developed over the years in your heart, maybe without external influence on them.

Taylor (22:30):

I think it was a mixture of both. Some were communicated to me, some I definitely interpreted. It was some were a combination of both. Or even the example of moving overseas, it was like everybody's so excited and no one told me necessarily, don't be sad, but just looking around me and seeing all the different people that were so excited, my nine-year-old brain interprets, oh, I can't be sad.

Matt (23:00):

It feels wrong to not be excited.

Taylor (23:02):

Yeah, that feels wrong. Yeah. Yeah.

Matt (23:05):

Right. Do you think you're an overachiever?

Taylor (23:13):


Matt (23:14):

Okay. I just wondered

Taylor (23:20):

In a way that's not great. And that's something

Matt (23:23):

That's not necessarily a compliment, it's just an observation.

Taylor (23:25):

It's on the negative side. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely an overachiever. And that's something even now I'm processing with God, okay, what does it look like to not to, I was talking with a friend even last week, and I'm like, I want to enjoy my life. God designed, he created me to enjoy life. I want to enjoy it in obedience to him. And so yeah, I definitely think I'm an overachiever.

Jess (23:53):

Yeah. Yeah. Nice. Well, speaking of overachieving, what do you have next for you? Not that those are over achievements, but I know that you're always working on different projects and different things. What do you have coming up for you?

Taylor (24:08):

Yeah, so with Stop Saying, I'm Fine, that just came out last year. I'm still promoting the book, but I've kind of taken a little bit of a break and I am getting ready to launch a podcast this fall. So it's called Faith and Feelings, and it's really kind of just going in real more deeply into the topics of spiritual and emotional health and how they inform each other. I'm finishing up my master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. And so I'm just in my own learning as a grad student about emotional health and what I'm learning about spiritual health, just having really honest conversations about what it looks like to be a Christ fellow that is healthy holistically. And so that is going to launch probably later this fall, and I am working beginning to work on another book project, but it's farther down the road.

Jess (25:05):

You can't tell us anything about that.

Taylor (25:08):

Relentless Pursuit exclusive.


I'm still very much so in the research phase. Yeah. But I did meet with an agent a couple months ago, and things seem to be moving in a positive direction.

Jess (25:24):


Taylor (25:25):


Jess (25:26):

Well, we will look forward to hearing more about that project, but yeah, I mean, there's all this stuff about how experts say that there's a mental health crisis amongst young people, and especially amongst Gen Z, which obviously that's kind of your generation. How do you feel about all that? I mean, that must have partially informed your desire to go into counseling and to do this podcast and all that.

Taylor (25:52):

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think I actually just moved off a college campus in May. I was doing a residency program, kind of a residency program during the first two years of my master's program. So I was living, and I was on a scholarship during undergrad that required me to live on campus. And so I actually lived on a college campus for six years and a very large one with 10,000 residential students. And part of the reason that I wanted to write stop seeing I'm fine was because of the amount of anxiety and emotional and mental health issues that I saw all around me. I think I read a recent research article that said that 91% of Gen Z struggles with anxiety. It's like, yeah, literally everyone, and I have such a heart for Gen Z and for college students and people, twenties, thirties, who are experiencing emotion health issues specifically, and in who are Christ followers who love Jesus, and who struggle with anxiety and don't feel tension in that.


Yeah, that's definitely a huge part of why I wrote Stop saying I'm fine.

Jess (27:12):

Yeah. I, so a lot of our listeners obviously are interested in missions, interested in what is the Lord's next step for me, and if they're Gen Z, then out of what you said, out of 10 of those people have some struggle with anxiety. So would you have any words for anybody who's Gen Z or even just younger, maybe struggling with anxiety, but really does have a heart for the unreached, have a heart to maybe even serve the Lord overseas? What would your word for people like that be?

Taylor (27:44):

Yeah, I think I can speak from my mistakes for sure.

Jess (27:52):

It's usually the first place we can speak from, right? Yeah.

Taylor (27:55):

One of the things that I look back on is I waited, and part of this is, it happened, but how it happened, but I waited so long and there's so much shame, so much to be honest about what I was walking through, both with the anxiety and the eating disorder. And there was so much of like, this is going to disqualify me. I had so much shame of good Christians don't struggle this way. And that was kind of the mindset. And I would just say, if you're in Gen Z, if you're your twenties interested in admissions, feeling anxiety is part of what it means to be human. And going, walking through things, walking through struggles is part of what it means to be human hiding. It is the thing that is going to make it way harder down the road. And so I would just talk to people in your life that are trusted, people who know you, who can walk with you, get the support, get the help that you need. And that's something that I wish that I wish, even though it was 18 when I went to treatment, I wish I'd started counseling a lot sooner than that.

Jess (29:21):

So what do you do now? Obviously, just because you wrote a book saying about anxiety doesn't mean that you hit publish and all of a sudden anxiety disappeared. Right? It just goes away. Yeah. Yeah. Right. I mean, if anything, there's more reason for being anxious. You just told everybody about your anxiety now, right? Yeah. Right.

Taylor (29:36):

Exactly. No, that's totally what happened. Yeah.

Jess (29:41):

Yeah. So I mean, what are some things that you do for yourself when you are feeling this? You are feeling anxious, but you're also feeling this urge to keep it hidden, not show it when you're feeling shame. What are things that you do or things that you turn to into order to keep you from closing in on yourself?

Taylor (30:01):

Yeah. I think part of what my healing journey has looked like is setting up a structure of people who are checking in on me a lot. So different mentors who are in my life, who know me really well, who are asking me really hard questions, who care for me really deeply and want me to be a healthy person in every area of my life. I'm in counseling right now. I'm still in counseling. I am in coaching right now. I'm doing some story work right now. I'm in a lot of different things, because you're right, anxiety for me is something that definitely didn't go away when my book was published. It actually got worse a little bit with the promotion,


And I have something I had to keep processing. Okay. One of the things I learned about anxiety that I didn't know before is anxiety is a secondary emotion. And so when we experience anxiety, there's typically an emotion underneath it that is threatening for us to feel. And so part of what helps me, especially when I'm feeling a lot of anxiety, is pausing and what is the emotion underneath what I'm feeling right now? Is it a fear of failure? Is it, that was a huge thing around my book launch. I feel like, what if this fails? What if all my worst fears comes true? But processing that and connecting with other people in that has been something that I try to do really regularly.

Matt (31:38):

And that was good for people, even if they're not struggling with anxiety. All the things you mentioned as far as being mentored and having a coach and having people that you're accountable to, that's something that anyone can benefit from, even if they don't feel that they have an issue with anxiety.

Taylor (31:58):

Yeah, definitely.

Jess (31:59):

And from what you say, even if I personally don't have anxiety, someone in my life probably does. And so, just to be able to get an inside look into that through your story or through even the stories of other people who open up and share honesty about those things, I think that that's so powerful and so important and a good practice to keep in life in general. But definitely when you're overseas as a missionary, as a T C K, and you just have that many more anxiety producing environmental factors in your life.

Matt (32:37):

So I have a question, and you need to use your imagination for this a little bit, but if you were as old as you are now with your experience and your life journey so far, and you had a chance to have a conversation with Taylor at nine years old before she got on the plane to go to Japan, what are some things you might say to her?

Taylor (33:05):

Yeah, I think I would tell nine year old Taylor that it's okay to feel all the feelings on the feeling wheel. It's okay. It's okay to feel sad. It's okay to cry. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to be confused and to not want to be in Japan at times and to want to go home to something that's okay, that's normal. And I think from really, really young, I was always just trying really hard. I'm a perfectionist, so trying really, really hard to making sure I'm doing all the things. I think I was reading in MK book a couple of days ago, and it was talking about how so often with this standard for perfection that so many mks feel, there's typically two responses. You either try really, really, really hard to be perfect, or you just kind of walk away from it all. And those, that's what a lot of mks do. And I definitely fell into, I'm going to try my very hardest to be perfect in every way. The

Matt (34:24):

Best MK ever

Taylor (34:26):

Best mk ever. And so, right. I tried so hard, obviously that doesn't a human being, so that doesn't work. But I think I would tell a little girl, Taylor, okay, try softer. Try softer. Don't try harder. It's okay to play, to enjoy life.

Matt (34:48):

Yeah. Now, I would imagine you did have opportunities as your parents were in ministry to participate at some level with them. What are some ways that you were, even with some of the barriers that you mentioned as far as language and culture, you were able to participate in their ministry there in Japan?

Taylor (35:09):

Yeah. My family did a lot of things together as a family. And one of the things that we did, I think I was 14 or 15 when we planted a, B, C, yeah. When we planted a church in Japan. And that was definitely a collective family effort. And I loved being able to surf with my family. I have really, really good memories from that time. And whether it was baking a ton of stuff or after the service, or you're doing seven, I was tech, I am horrible at tech. I was the tech person for a long time, just feeling all of these different roles that you're not really good at, but you're doing things, you're the only person. And I think it was really, really fun for me. It's something that I love about looking back on my MK experience, is you really see God working in another culture that is amazing. You see God opening hearts to the gospel in front of you, and you experienced so many different ways of God moving and working and how he's drawing people to himself in such amazing ways. Yeah,

Matt (36:38):

That's cool. I think that sometimes people underestimate the participation that kids can have, and obviously it doesn't necessarily look the same way, but I've just observed in different places that I've visited, how children provide a real relational connection between people, because everybody likes kids for the most part. It's hard to not find something to identify with because kids are pretty much the same across cultures. They like the same things, they make the same noises, and they do the same stuff. So they provide kind of a bridge of relationships, I think, for people that are working overseas. So I think maybe we underestimate the power of A T C K in a place like that to build those relationships and to really have an impact. So that's cool to hear about your involvement there.

Taylor (37:32):

Yeah. I think even thinking back on how, one of the things that my family did all of the time is we had people over to our house constantly for dinner all the time. We would all, literally all the time, a lot of nights a week, we would have different people over at our house for dinner. And so many times, and this wasn't even really something that I knowingly did, I was just being nine or whatever, and I would go up and hug my dad, and we would talk about something or we would laugh about something. And we had so many people just start crying. And my dad would be like, what's wrong? And they said, I've never seen a daughter interact with her dad with so much affection before, and vice versa, ssa. And I think in so many moments like that, we were seeing how there were ways to actually embody the gospel just in the way that we were interacting a family that were even so much more powerful, even words that we could say just by the way that we interacted with each other. And as a nine-year-old in that moment, I was like, wow, I never realized my relationship with my dad in that way could have an impact like that. So it was really cool.

Matt (38:54):

That's cool.

Jess (38:54):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you guys definitely impacted my life. I just remember the way that y'all would interact, the way that your parents would just talk to you about the Lord, about the gospel, even when you guys were getting in trouble, right? They were scolding you, just the way that they would really show how much they loved you. I, so I can just only imagine that for people who did not have any experience with a Christian family, with just Jesus followers, how much more impactful that would've been for the local people. So yeah, that's really cool that even in your small, innocent nine-year-old ways you were, were able to be an impact on those people, on the people around you. So that's really cool. If you had just a piece of advice or encouragement for parents who are planning to go overseas, hoping to go overseas, but maybe they're worried about their kids, what would be some encouragement you'd have for them?

Taylor (39:52):

Yeah, that's a really good question. When I look back on my family's story and even our story right now, my parents weren't perfect, and they never pretended to be, but they were really open about, even now, their own walk with God, what they're learning with God. They just so open about even mistakes that they made, things that they wish they would've done differently, things that, and I think that openness and how they were living their life with God has really impacted me and in my relationship with the Lord. So I think I would say, I think my parents would say, you can't be perfect and to take the pressure off of that. But yeah, I think at least in my experience, having my parents be so open about their own lives, about their own walks with the Lord, about their own struggles and mistakes, really communicated in really powerful, powerful ways to meet eventually, that it was okay to do the same. Yeah.

Jess (41:11):

Yeah. Thank you for that. Yeah.

Matt (41:16):

Well, you've already been pretty transparent, so I don't think anyone's going to get the picture that you are super human. But one of the purposes of this podcast is to really help people see the human side of people that work cross-culturally, whether it's TKs or whether it's their parents missionaries. So we have some quickfire questions we're going to ask you here. And these don't need to think too deeply about 'em. They're not really that deep, but we hope they'll give a glimpse into what your loves and hates and preferences are. Okay. So cultures tend to be coffee or tea oriented. Are you a coffee person or a tea person?

Taylor (41:58):

Coffee person. A hundred percent. Okay.

Matt (42:01):

Okay. Now, that's not really the way Japan is, right?

Taylor (42:05):

I know. But

Matt (42:07):

It's becoming more so, right? I mean, there's more Starbucks and things coming over

Taylor (42:12):

There, aren't

Matt (42:12):

There? Yeah,

Jess (42:13):

there are Starbucks. This is true. This is true. And Seattle's Best for some reason. Really?

Taylor (42:18):

So many. Yeah. So of all the coffee shops,

Matt (42:22):

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Taylor (42:28):

Oh, definitely early bird. I am asleep so early. Yeah.

Matt (42:32):

Oh, that's good. How about, what if you do tend to stay up late? What's your go-to late night snack?

Taylor (42:41):

Probably popcorn.

Matt (42:44):


Taylor (42:45):

Yeah. Well, healthy.

Jess (42:47):

I just remember hearing that your dad would pull out Jjrs of peanut butter at night when he was stressed and

Taylor (42:52):

Oh, yes. Just of peanut butter was always in the house. Yeah.

Matt (42:57):

People might not know that, but that's what missionaries love is peanut butter. And so if you're going to visit missionaries, and when I would go overseas to visit missionaries, I would usually bring some peanut butter with me. Earn you something. Yeah. When in doubt. Yeah, when in doubt. Peanut butter. Yeah. How about winter, spring, summer or fall?

Taylor (43:15):

Summer. I love when it's hot. Really?

Matt (43:19):

Wow. And you lived in Florida too, and you're saying that that's amazing.

Taylor (43:23):


Matt (43:23):

Okay. You're traveling as many TKs and missionaries do window or aisle.

Taylor (43:30):

Ooh, that's hard. I think probably window, because then when I fall asleep, I can lean against the window. I always try to get the window. Yeah. Yeah.

Matt (43:41):

How about a must pack item? And you can't say Bible, everybody that's going to be there, but something other than your Bible.

Taylor (43:53):

If I didn't want to forget anything, I just really, really don't want to forget my toothbrush. So I think I would say that that is just a non-negotiable. Yeah,

Matt (44:01):

Good. In Japan, what was your favorite local dish?

Taylor (44:06):

I loved sushi. So every Wednesday, my mom and my twin and me would go to something called Kai 10 Sushi. And so it's sushi that comes around to you on a conveyor belt.

Matt (44:20):

Oh, yeah.

Taylor (44:20):

It's so cool. And so we would get all the plates and then, yeah, it was so fun. So I have really good memories at Kanye. I

Jess (44:28):

I remember that.

Taylor (44:29):

Remember that.

Matt (44:30):

So you just pick something off the conveyor belt, they charge you for it at the end of the meal, or how do you end up paying for it?

Taylor (44:37):

So they charge you for how many plates that you have on your table at the end. And so you just plates and then they come and count how many plates you have, and then,

Matt (44:47):

Oh, that's cool.

Taylor (44:47):


Matt (44:48):

Each lot of plate is essentially the same, huh?

Taylor (44:51):


Matt (44:52):


Jess (44:55):

They have this, basically, most of the kaitin, the conveyor belt, sushi places, all the plates are a hundred and, and so all the plates are exactly the same. And so they have this little card that they put next to the stack of plates. So you don't even have to count the plates. They just look at the card and how high it is, and then they're like, okay. You ate 18 plates or whatever. Yeah, yeah. It's very efficient. That's very, that's cool.

Matt (45:19):

What is a talent you wish you had?

Taylor (45:24):

Okay, yeah. This is one that I wish I had. This is I wish I could paint or draw in any capacity more than what I can right now, because my drawing right now is stick figure status. And so yeah, I wish I could, I was a little bit more artistic in that way. Okay,

Matt (45:45):

Cool. What about a missed comfort from home when you were in Japan?

Taylor (45:52):

Ooh, I think I missed the library. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I miss going to the library and getting books and reading.

Matt (46:05):

What is the strangest tradition that you witnessed over there?

Taylor (46:10):

Like Japanese tradition?

Matt (46:12):


Taylor (46:17):

I don't know. Can you think of any, Jess?

Jess (46:22):

I mean anything to do with the shrines. Oh, that's true. Where they clap in front of the bell, the ancestors,

Matt (46:30):

And you're not exactly sure what those things mean when they're doing those things.

Jess (46:34):

Right. And the thing is, they're not really sure either. It doesn't necessarily, all the different things don't necessarily have to have a meaning. It's just what you're supposed to do. So it's kind of one of the interesting aspects of Shinto.

Taylor (46:45):

Yeah. Yeah, that was always interesting. And especially there were a lot of shrines. There's typically at least one shrine in a neighborhood or in a community, and so you're always hearing the bells and the people. Yeah. So that was interesting.

Matt (47:02):

Is there any quick language mishap that you remember happening?

Taylor (47:06):

Oh man, there's so many. I think, well, there's this one. This is a story with my dad, so he probably wouldn't mind. So there was this one Too late.

Matt (47:23):

So it's his mishap. Not yours.

Taylor (47:26):

Not mine. It's his mishap. This is a really funny though. So that's where my brain went. So we went to a restaurant one time and we were going with some local pastors, and the chef wasn't a Christian, but his wife was. And so we were trying to really, we were going to meet the chef and we were ordering all this food, and she was there, and it was just really this cool moment. And so the chef comes out and everyone's like, this is the chef. This is the chef. So we're telling all the pastors that are going around telling him how delicious the food was. And then it gets to my dad, and my dad's trying really, really hard to use Japanese, but this is pretty soon after we'd moved to Japan. And so he means to say the food was delicious and beautiful, but instead of saying Chile, which is beautiful, he said, Kila, which means, and I hate it. So he said, it's delicious. And I hated it to the chef. So yeah, there was this moment of silent awkwardness, and then everybody was like, oh my goodness. Yeah, this is what you said. He was like, oh, no, that's not what I meant. So yeah, it was pretty funny.

Matt (48:38):

That's funny.

Jess (48:40):

Nice. Yeah.

Matt (48:41):

What did you want to be when you were a kid? Well, what did you want to be when you grow up when you were a kid?

Taylor (48:47):

Yeah, so I think from the time I was so little, I, it was like a toss up between, I sound like such a nerd. I wanted to be a librarian or a writer from the time I was three. Yeah.

Matt (49:03):

Yeah. Well, you got one of those. And if you collect enough books, then you can just be your own amateur put in model library. Yeah. Well, thanks so much for spending time with us, Taylor. It's been really great. Thanks for sharing your story.

Taylor (49:22):

Yeah, thank you.

Jess (49:25):

I think above all, I just really appreciate Taylor's vulnerability and openness just with the struggles that she had in Japan, just how her experience there as a T C K has obviously shaped her life and her journey, but also just made anxiety. And even her eating disorder such a big struggle that she is continuing to deal with. And that she was able to be open about that with us, that she was able to be open about that in her book. And I could see that she was even struggling with that question of, do you regret having gone to Japan, that your parents went there? And so I really just appreciated that she was so open with the fact that it's hard to say that she's glad that she went. Yet in the end, she really is that she really does appreciate what the Lord has done in her life throughout those experiences. And so I think that was just really so touching and moving for me to hear from her.

Matt (50:24):

And I think too, it's a message to people who are considering missions and have children, no matter what age now she went when she was nine years old, but others are taking children that are much younger than that or much older, is that it's not going to be easy. There's no way around it that your children will face the challenges that you do and different challenges. And for them, it wasn't something that they were specifically called to. It was a decision that you made on their behalf. And I think every parent has to wrestle with that. And yet, I think she did have some really good input and insight into how her parents cared for her through that.


And a key thing was that transparency on their part as they were dealing with spiritual struggles, as they were asking questions that they brought her into that world with them. They didn't hide that from her. And I think that provided a foundation where she was able to come to a place of healing and self-awareness later on in life when she went through her crisis. So there's no way out of it, if you are going to choose a life of serving God among the unreached, you will suffer and your children will struggle. And there's not, we're not going to gloss over that, but God is faithful and he is able to bring beauty from ashes, even in the midst of great struggle and suffering and challenges that we face. And of course, as we know, these are the same challenges that people face here in this country. So it's not like by going overseas, you avoid them, nor are there necessarily acute things that are worse there. It's just different. And the world is a very difficult and toxic place, I think, especially for young people,

Jess (52:13):

No matter where you are.

Matt (52:14):

Exactly. Yeah.

Jess (52:16):

In any case, requires the grace of the Lord in all situations.

Matt (52:22):

Absolutely. Wherever you are, you need God. You're not going to go somewhere that he's more prone to be than he is wherever you are. We also have some good resources in the show notes. We have a lot of people working in Japan, and I would encourage you to check out our show notes for different photo essays and videos from people serving in that part of the world. Even Taylor's family is featured in one of our videos, so be sure to check that out. Also, articles on Japan and articles on T C K Life and Challenges and Joys and victories. So be sure to check out our show notes and get those resources.

Jess (53:05):

And don't forget, Taylor also has two books out. One is called Hidden In My Heart, and the other is Stop Saying I'm Fine. Both are available on Amazon and Kindle. We'll have more information in the show notes. Taylor also mentioned she has a new podcast coming out this fall, so please definitely look out for information for that.


Thanks for following us on this episode of the Relentless Pursuit Podcast. Our goal is to make missions accessible to show that it's not just reserved for elite super Christians. If you want to be involved, just go to and answer a few questions. We have a team who would love to help you discern your calling and what your next steps might be.

Matt (53:45):

At Pioneers, we love to partner with local churches and send teams to people groups with little or no access to the gospel. Keep up with what God is doing by following us on Instagram, Facebook, X, and YouTube, all at Pioneers usa, one word or visit Thanks for listening.