A Simple and Profound Message for Christmas

This year I went a little crazy with Christmas music. Beginning with the first advent Sunday, I put on my Christmas playlist and the familiar tunes have been blasted around the apartment for the better part of the past month. Songs about snowy landscapes, time with the family and peace all around. 

The melody of this world often sounds very different, though. 

Winter has been replaced by climate change, people dread the drama of relationships and Christmas is anything but peaceful. We’re stressed out, exhausted from the year and overwhelmed by the darkness surrounding us. 

Emmanuel. God is with us. 

In the midst of our busy lives and worried hearts, there is the soft and yet so striking message of Christmas. It won’t solve all our problems, it won’t take all our burdens away. 

And yet there is something comforting, peaceful, profound to know that we don’t have to walk through the wilderness alone. 

Emmanuel is with us. 
His presence is closer than we often realize. 

So as we gather around the Christmas tree at slightly warmer temperatures, as we bask in candle light and maybe struggle with the darkness – be with each other. 
Be present at the dinner table and in challenging conversations. 
Be there to share the pains and joys of life together. 
Remind each other of Emmanuel this Christmas. 

He is with us. 
Where can you see him this week? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today, the last one for this year. Merry Christmas to you agnd your loved ones!

Faith in the Wilderness

It has been four years since my faith bubble burst and I began my journey into the wilderness.
Four long years of deconstructing what I actually believe.
Four years of questions why I do the things I do.
Four years of doubts if this makes sense at all.

Many months of anger at people, the church, God himself.
Many months of loneliness when I just couldn’t go back in there.
Many months of exhaustion when I was about to give up.
Many months of fear if it would always be this way – uncertain, tiring, grey.

Yesterday I spoke with a friend about our journeys and she said: “If I had to boil down faith to one word, it would be still.” 

In the midst of all the questions, I still come to you for answers.
In the midst of the broken down buildings of my faith, I still find new treasures in the rubble.
In the midst of all the unknown, I still experience a peace that is not of this world.
Even though there are a lot of lonely moments, I still discover you in the least expected moments and people.
Even though there are days of exhaustion and surrender, you still surprise me and encourage me to keep going,
Even though there is a lot of grey, I still learn that it has more colors than I could ever imagine.

So I still make my way into the wilderness and find that you’ve been waiting there for me.

I’ve discovered something beautiful: the loneliest steps are the ones between the city walls and the heart of the wilderness, where safety is in the rearview mirror, new territory remains to be seen, and the path out to the unknown seems empty. But put one foot in front of the other enough times, stay the course long enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness, and you’ll be shocked how many people already live out there – thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, belonging. It is not a barren wasteland. It is not unprotected territory. It is not void of human flourishing. […] The walk out there is hard, but the authenticity out there is life.

Jen Hatmaker in: Braving the Wilderness . Brené Brown 2017.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

How to Navigate Rough Waters

“You know what I’d like to do right now? Go and have a coffee.” My friend had just arrived to spend the weekend with me. The official reason is a photo exhibition she’s about to open here – but it was an added bonus to have a few days together without her kids or my pressing work schedule. So we went for coffee and a second breakfast in the middle of the day.

As we indulged ourselves in pancakes and extra large coffee mugs, we updated each other on what had happened in our worlds since the last time we had talked. We shared news of friends who were struggling at work, relationships that were breaking apart, and the feeling of helplessness on the outside.
We sat there wondering, our hearts aching for all the dear people who worked so hard and saw their lives falling apart nevertheless.

I guess we’re less in control of life than we’d like to be. Often it doesn’t take much to lose it and stand in front of broken pieces, dreams, hopes.

When things on the outside start falling apart, we might have to take a closer look at the inside.
What makes life worth living?
What gives our souls its balance and our hearts its stability? 

The more I am caught up in the busyness of the working world, the seeming expectations of others and the impossibility of doing it all, the more I realize that I cannot just brush up the outside. A nice facade will only look nice until the winds of life start crashing against it.
If we want balance in our souls and lives, we need to work on the inside and create some depth that will navigate us safely through the rough waters.

Maybe this Advent season can serve as a reminder to slow down, light a candle and meditate on this simple, and yet so challenging, message.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today. Happy second Advent, y’all!

Have a Little More “Ting” in Your Life

A couple of years ago, John Mark McMillan was asked what his greatest accomplishment was. He said the following:

The thing that brings me the most satisfaction is sitting on my porch with people I love and talk. I can build big organizations and people can know my name – But in the end, none of that stuff feels as good as sitting across a table from somebody, telling a story, laughing a little, crying a little, raising a glass and hearing that little “ting”. All of life is inside that “ting”: fellowship and love and laughter, and you can hear Jesus in that “ting”.

There have been quite a few moments in my life when I just stood there, dumbstruck, wondering at what had just happened.
Two people had just talked, and yet, an ocean of thoughts and beauty and depth had opened up between us.
A bond had been forged, a sense of knowing and being known.
A safety of having your soul held by someone else.

I walked away, deeply satisfied and the sound of “ting” ringing in my ear and heart.

Since I am a reflective person, I often wonder how such encounters come about.
What can we do to have them more often?
Even though I don’t believe that every of our talks has to be super emotional and long, I am convinced that deep conversations which show our raw honest selves are essential for our inner well-being and growth. 

You can’t fabricate depth.
You can’t will yourself into having a deep conversation.
I can’t give you a five-step action plan to create good talks.

I guess it comes down to simplicity.

Going for a walk with a friend.
Sitting down for a meal together.
Inviting others to your table.
Spending time intentionally.
Practicing gratitude together.
Sharing more of your life, your thoughts, your heart.
Simply being yourself and taking off the pressure to perform.

Telling a story, laughing and crying together.
Feeling the soft covers of fellowship embrace us.
Hearing that little “ting” resounding in and around us.

Where can you hear the “ting” in your life today? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

It Begins at the Table

It’s Friday night and I’m in my kitchen carving what’s left of the turkey.
My thoughts wander back to last night when my apartment was filled to the brim, every last seat taken by friends and family to celebrate Friendsgiving.

The smell of cranberry sauce, roasted meat and pumpkin had exuded into the entire house. The food was rich and heavy; and we stuffed ourselves until we had to hold our bellies. We laughed at new jokes and smiled dreamily at old memories. We talked until the last bottle of wine (and there weren’t few) had been emptied.

And yet, my favorite moment was when we sat down at the table to share what we are thankful for. Such a simple and yet challenging practice.
A healthy body.
A job that fulfills you.
Protection in the chaos of busy schedules.
Fellowship with colleagues and friends.
Faithful, authentic relationships.
Healing and hope in the midst of pain.
The gift of new life.

The abundance we have been given has nothing in common with materialism. In a culture that wants to sell us fast and cheap deals, we need moments when we sit down and think about what really matters – People, unexpected grace and time are the things we truly value.
We find life, community and belonging when we sit down at the table.

In moments like last night I realize that faith was meant to be more like that.

A God who invites us to his table and all we can bring is ourselves.
A story that has nothing in common with what we do or where we come from.
A conversation about the darkness and joys of life.
A celebration of the beauty that embraces us all.
A place where we find true belonging, honest community, abundant life.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
If you have any good Thanksgiving leftovers recipes – hit me up!

What If?

Sometimes I wonder how stupid we as human beings can be.

In the attempt to understand our world and with our innate desire for everything to make sense, we have simplified so many of life’s big stories and happenings. We have put everything and everyone in boxes, sorted all the world’s mysteries into logical categories.

We seem to have done everything right.
And maybe gotten it all wrong.

What if there is more than one answer to the nagging questions in all of us?
What if issues are more complex than we wish them to be and we need to wrestle with them for days, months, years until we experience a breakthrough?
What if “I don’t know” is actually an honest gift in a conversation?
What if people are more than they let on initially and we actually need to take the time to dig deeper and uncover the treasures inside them?
What if the ‘others’ are more like us than we allow them to be within the walls of our hatred and prejudice?
What if God has more shapes, faces and character traits than we have boxed him in and we have barely scratched the surface of the truly divine?

What if we miss out on so much beauty, color and abundance if we narrow our view to just the one thing?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Why “I Don’t Care” Is Not Enough

Over the past few months, something has been growing inside of me.
It started with an irritation, a slight feeling of discomfort.
The more I found out, the more I could sense anger rising inside of me, slowly making its way to the surface.
Fear seeping into every pore of my body until it has made me cold and numb.

Nationalist states who want to build walls around their countries.
People who close their doors and hearts to those in need.
Customers who buy cheap products at the expense and suffering of all the many.
Politicians who consider their reputation and position more important than common welfare.
Decisions that put democracy at risk.
So many young people who believe their voices won’t really matter.

Once you see, you cannot go back.
The darkness of this world cannot be unseen. 

It would be an all too natural reaction to give up and twiddle our thumbs.
To hide in the corners and stay as far away from it all as possible.
To detach from what’s going on and stop reading the news altogether.
To say, “I don’t care because I simply can’t handle it.”

And yes, sometimes we need to say no and create clear boundaries for our own sanity.
In fact, I wrote an entire series on this whole concept.

But in the midst of all this hopelessness and despair, there’s something else springing up in me.

The world we live in is a fragile construct, a precious gift we’ve been given as stewards. 
It will not be changed by the bystanders and do-nothings. 
It will not become a whit better if all of us will stop caring. 
It will not become any brighter if we all hide our lights under the table. 

So let’s raise our voices for the issues that get your blood boiling.
Let’s shine a light on the darkness of this world and create awareness instead of hiding in our ignorance.
Let’s protect the good that has been given to us and be grateful for the many undeserved gifts everyday.
Let’s educate ourselves to sharpen our tongues and minds for the debates that will be coming.
Let justice roll like a stream of mighty water and revive what has once been gloomy and dead.
Let’s remind each other that in the midst of our brokenness, there’s the One who will all things well someday and that our anger will not be left unanswered. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.