Fighting in the Dark

Last week didn’t start off too well.
On Tuesday I had to leave work early because a headache kept bothering me. By the time I made it home, a fever and cough joined in and I came down with the flu. For the last few days, I’ve just been at home in bed.
Being sick is never really beautiful.

Suddenly, I had all this time at my hand, which was kind of confusing at first.
I followed the news about the people suffering in Syria as the war rages on and the world continues watching.
I listened to a teenager explain the political dilemma on gun violence in the US after the Florida shooting.
I read up on ethical fashion and the damage our outrageous materialism does to other people and the ecosystem.
I worried about all the work I couldn’t do now and how much behind that would put me.
I looked out the window into beautiful sunshine, only to remember that I was too sick to go outside.
No, this week was definitely not beautiful.

Depending on our focus, this life can quickly become exhausting and dull and hopeless.
This world can so easily drain life and its sense for beauty.

In weeks like this one, it’s not easy to find beauty, so I have to fight for it even harder. 
I look out for the sunshine and bask in the rays that made it through my window.
I decide not to worry about all the undone work, but instead enjoy the time of rest I have been given.
I dive into a good novel and get lost in the story, simply because I have the time for it.
I appreciate that I don’t have to set any alarm clock but can just sleep however long my body needs to.
I pause and pray and hope for the One who sees it all and creates beauty in the midst of all our mess.

In a world darkened with suffering and pain and confusion, we can need any sense of beauty we can get. So tell me, where have you discovered beauty this week?  

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

I Don’t Deserve This

Mornings at home.
A huge window with a perfect view of the sky.
Warm covers to snuggle in.
Eight hours of peaceful sleep.
A full refrigerator with too many choices of what to eat.
A safe job and friendly colleagues.
No worries about money every month.
Friends who are just a phone call away.
A family that supports and encourages me.
Unexpected coffee dates during the week.
A golden sunset after a long day at work.
Carnival break which starts in a few hours.
A full calendar with plans for the future and lots of things to be excited for.
Free access to education, entertainment and information.
Free thinking and controversial discussions.

I didn’t earn this. Too many people on this planet are not as fortunate and have to suffer from poverty, hunger, lack of education, oppression, slavery.

When I look at just this week, I realize: I’m surrounded by pure grace.
My life is enriched by heavenly gifts.
It’s a privilege and I never want to take it for granted.
Instead, I want to practice gratitude. For everything, in everything.

What can you be grateful for this week?

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Going Beyond My Own World

I admire my friends.
They impress me with the way they live their lives, challenge themselves, travel around the world, invest in people, grow through hardships, persevere in the darkness.

One thing I admire about them is that they are brave with their thoughts.
They open themselves to all kinds of ideas and stories and surround themselves with people from all kinds of lifestyles.
They subscribe to channels that tell them a different story.
They engage in discussions and allow themselves to be challenged by opposing views.

I must admit, I’m not always that brave. 

There are conversations I rather avoid because they make me feel inadequate.
There are topics I don’t always want to discuss.
There are people I don’t listen to because they disagree with me and make me feel uncomfortable, uncertain of myself, unsafe about life.

And yet, I want to be brave.
In fact, I have to. 

I want to break out of my own mind, my own circles, my own world.
I want to discuss, engage and invest, no matter if we agree or not. We might agree to disagree and yet remain friends.
I want to read and watch and listen to things that are beyond my own horizon.
I want to discover the great thoughts that are out there and surround myself with people who blow my mind.
That can be uncomfortable and challenging at times, but in the end it is the only way to a deeper knowledge, a greater wisdom, a richer life.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

You’ve Got to Let Go

Do you know these moments when you got it all planned out and then life takes a completely different turn?
Last Friday was such a moment for me. A long list of things to do, a full weekend ahead of me, a good couple of hours to finish it all. That was my plan for Friday.

I woke up with a headache and a feeling of nausea, so I gave myself an extra thirty minutes in bed. I had breakfast. I took a pill. I really took it slow.

No help.

In my mind I could almost hear the battle going on inside of me:
“I’ve got so much to do, this can’t be happening. Not today.”
“Maybe you just need to take some time to do nothing and just rest.”
“But when should I finish everything then? There are so many things on my list!”
“If you try to work while being sick, you won’t be happy with the results anyway.”

This went on for quite some time, until my eyes just closed and I fell asleep on the sofa.
I gave in to what my body clearly had tried to tell me.
Two hours later, I woke up refreshed and ready to go.

Life doesn’t always go as planned.
No matter how much we work and organize, things can always come in between, people can let us down, life can just get in the way. 

Often times we can’t explain it, most of the time we definitely don’t deserve it.
We can just decide how we’ll react to these interruptions, no matter how big or small they may be.
Sometimes we need to let go and surrender to life’s plans.
Sometimes we have to trust  that there’s someone there who sees and knows and will make it work – all in its right time.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

When Life Becomes Busy…

It’s been one of those weeks. You know, when you wake up at the end of those long days as if you’d just been on a rollercoaster ride and you wonder, what have I actually done this week?
Despite all my careful planning and my (normally) good organisational skills, I was buried knee deep in school work this week. So many papers to grade at the end of term, so many last minute events to organize, so many talks and meetings… and so little time to do all that.

In the last two weeks, I have spent more time at school than at home.
I haven’t really talked to anyone outside of school.
I don’t even want to talk about my eating habits. My kitchen is a big mess with leftover junk food, but I have no time nor energy to clean it up.

Maybe you’re familiar with such weeks and thoughts.

Time to pause is rare and self-care is not really at the top of our list these days.
How could we sit dow and rest when there’s a stack of work waiting for us?
Why should we put any effort in cooking something nice when we’re the only ones eating it and a sandwich would do just fine?

Because we deserve it.

In weeks like this I realize how much we have to fight for what’s important.
Inner strength and joy won’t just come, we have to be intentional and seek them out in our busy lives. When we value ourselves with what we do, eat and think, we can keep going and also appreciate the people around us.
When we carve out some time to just rest our thoughts and focus on the beauty in the mundane, we can see the abundance that’s already there. 

So today, I decided to let work be work and exchange my desk for a sofa in a coffeeshop. With a giant cup of melange in my hand, I watch people, imagine the stories they have to tell and allow God to breathe life back into me.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Let’s keep it simple.

Welcome to the new year everyone! Did you have a good time with family, friends and food? I hope so.

My New Year’s Eve plans were cancelled at the last minute and I had to find an alternative quickly.  Somehow this event comes with so many expectations: the perfect location, the perfect food, the perfect conversations – the last night of the year has to be the best party ever.
The more I thought about it, the more stressed out I felt about it all. Why do we make such a big fuss about things sometimes?
We work and prepare and keep ourselves busy.
We worry what other people will think about our homes, clothes, friendships, life plans and decisions.
We try so hard to follow all the rules to please God and be good Christians. We bury ourselves in arguments and theologies, just so we know it all and deal with it all. 

This Christmas was full of people. A blogger friend from the US and my little brother from South Africa came to visit me and we spent lots of nights talking.
About the joys and pain of life.
About what it means to deconstruct your faith and rediscover old truths.
About the simplicity of it all when we watch out for it.
We laughed and we cried together and I realized: this is what life and faith are about. Relationships. Simple. Complex. Challenging. Beautiful. Life-giving.

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So if I have to say anything about this new year ahead of us: Let’s keep it simple. 
Let’s be okay to not be perfect all the time.
Let’s leave the mess for a while and focus on the people around us instead.
Let’s never grow tired of sharing our time, our hearts, our lives.
Let’s continue to look out for God in the midst of all of this, right here in the mundane.  

I ended up celebrating New Year’s Eve with a family I didn’t know that well yet and their two kids. A very small group of people, Raclette, stories, and watching the fireworks over the city from the balcony.
And it was perfect.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today. One prompt, five minutes to write and an awesome community of writers and cheerleaders. Why don’t you join us this year?

If you’re German-speaking and looking for a way to discover God in your mundane narratives, now might be a good time to start reading my book “Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott”. I would love to see you on this journey!


What If Christmas Was Different?

There I was in the middle of the Christmas market.
Lights were shining brightly around the square, from a distance I could hear some kids playing Christmas songs. As I took a deep breath I inhaled the smell of mulled wine, bratwurst and roasted nuts.

I had just come out of a department store where I had braved my way through crowded aisles and stressed out shoppers. Since Christmas is almost here, I couldn’t put it off any longer, I had to buy some presents eventually.

In case you didn’t know, I’m not the biggest fan of shopping. Especially around Christmas time. The shops are crowded, people are unnerved and everyone is stressed out. Christmas seems to be about brighter lights and bigger presents and more, more, more. 

Let’s travel back in time.

There he was in the middle of a simple, cold barn. The savior of the world had just been born, a baby into completely unprepared surroundings.
Instead of a majestic palace he chose a stable.
Instead of sterile cleanliness, he came into dirt, simplicity and helplessness.
Instead of hundreds of visitors and big announcements, he invited the neglected shepherds to meet him first.

Sometimes I’d like to have been in that stable that night.
I imagine it to have been peaceful.

The message of Christmas is so very different from the distorted version we’re bombarded with all around us.
It’s about less than more.
It’s about unpreparedness than perfection.
It’s about peace than noise.
It’s about God coming to break through our illusions, expectations, hindrances. 

What a gift this is.
May you enjoy it this Christmas.

One last Five Minute Friday this year. See you in 2018!