Hidden in the Crowds


On Monday morning at 8 a.m., summer break was over. Six weeks of freedom and rest and quietness had come to an end.

What people outside the teaching profession don’t know: Going back to school after the big break is like turning a switch. Within one minute you go from silence to full-on noise, from solitude to crowded hallways, from rest to total chaos.

One hour in and you feel like the holidays are already light years away.

This week has been hard.
Sore feet, messed up brain, tired soul.
All I could feel, when I feel into bed at night, was exhausted.
That’s not all what I want to feel. This can’t be it.

When we are stressed, we often lose focus and overlook the really important things.

In the midst of our busyness, there are these little moments of joy.
In the hectic of our task-driven lives, there are these beautiful encounters of human connection.
In the sea of faces, there are these special people who stand out in the crowd and surprise you.
Beyond the endless to- do lists there’s the gift of Sabbath and the promise that we are not what we do.

This is it.
This is what I want to learn in this new crazy year ahead of me:
Watch out for the essentials.
Pay attention to what’s hidden in the crowds.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

This Is Not What My Life Was Supposed to Be Like (On Turning Thirty)

I turned thirty last week – a time to look back and reflect on the big things in life. 

I distinctly remember the first day at university, when I walked around campus and saw students dipping their feet into the fountains at The Square. They sat together in little groups, laughed about something and obviously enjoyed their life. I was twenty-one and had just moved to the city to open yet another chapter in my life’s story. 

And I remember imagining what the next few years would look like: I would complete my studies quickly and then move abroad for work. I would meet new people and we’d be the best of friends who make embarrassing and beautiful memories that would last forever. I would find a handsome guy and we’d get married until we started our own family around thirty. Together we would roam this planet, always in search of our next adventure. I would say later that my twenties were the best years of my life. 

Fast forward a couple of years.

Even though I was never really sure if I wanted to be a teacher, I discovered that I enjoy teaching very much and I might stay a while. So I still live in Germany, have become a full-fledged teacher and just moved into my first ‘grown-up’ apartment. I own a dishwasher and seem to be really settled.
I have graduated from university with a lot of effort and good grades, but all of this had its price. After my finals I had a burnout because I hadn’t taken care of myself. In times when I needed them the most, I had to say goodbye to a few dear friends and learn that some relationships are not meant to last.
There have been countless weddings I have attended and many happy moments when I rejoiced with friends and their kids, but with the years I couldn’t help but wonder why I am still alone. Nor the fear of always being on my own.
I have walked through the valley with friends and had to let go of seemingly strong foundations. I wrestle with questions and doubts why and how I can live my faith in this complex world.

No, this is not what my life was supposed to be like. 

As I take a walk down memory lane, different images flash before my inner eye. 

The many packed bags and suitcases that carry us from one apartment to the next and accompany us from one continent to a completely different culture. A symbol for the tension of having no real home and longing for the world that’s lingering inside of me. 

The five of us squeezed into too small cars or way too little motorbikes riding through the African jungle. Sleeping in tiny rooms and having improvised breakfasts on hotel beds. The many days and nights when we come together from all over, holding our bellies from laughing so hard and forgetting that we’re all adults by now. No matter how scattered we are: It’s always us five against the world. 

The delayed flight to Johannesburg where my twenty-year old self lives away from my family for the first time. I am culturally challenged, but gain a better understanding of myself as a TCK and my role in this world. 

Sweet memories of late nights with study friends watching movies, cycling around town and discovering what food can do for a person’s soul. 

The tiny bundle of fluff who made me a godmother and grew into such a brave, funny, intelligent boy. I can hear his chuckling laugh long after I have to leave again. 

All those weekends with my TCK family that leave all of us physically exhausted but emotionally filled to the brim. Because it’s exactly this: We have become family; people who share similar experiences and honest questions about home, identity and belonging. 

The breathtaking beauty of canyons, oceans and landscapes in all the countries I was lucky enough to travel. I have swum in all the seven seas, overcame my fear of water to go diving and climbed mountains. I got to live with people from all across the world and discovered that they are the real adventure. 

The first TCK conference I attended completely clueless only to be blessed by people who took me under their wings and taught me about the vastness and beauty of the TCK world. Together we have pulled off quite a few conferences and learned from experts all across Europe. 

What started out as a temporary student job became an unexpected learning experience when I ended up organizing a congress for several thousand people and was surprised how much responsibility people trusted me with. 

I have come to understand the necessity of saying No which enables me to say Yes to the right things and invest my time, thoughts and money into causes that really matter. I learn to treasure the beauty of admitting, “I don’t know.” 

I have learned to take better care of myself and open my eyes for the many blessings already out there. God was and is bigger than my concepts, questions and doubts. When I pay attention to it, I am overwhelmed by mundane gifts and the faithfulness of old companions. 

In times when saying goodbye to friendships and much-loved beliefs became really painful, I discovered writing as a helpful way to reflect and process. Many people blessed me with their encouragement and comments on-and offline, but I never imagined that my writing would end up in a book. 

I sense for the first time what it means to settle down at one place for a while and create a home – a feeling unknown, yes even forbidden, for a TCK. I meet the right people at the right time who challenge me to take risks, to stay and rest, to give something of myself. I can talk to friends who feel the same and we wait in this uncertainty together.

Why do I write these things? I don’t want to brag about myself and everything I have achieved. No, these stories are a reminder for myself to not lament the things I don’t seem to have, but to celebrate that my life has turned out so different from what I imagined it to be all these years ago. 

My life is full.
Full with tasks that challenge and inspire me.
Full with loving, creative and inspiring people who join me along the way and enrich my life with their presence, actions and words. 

My life is deep.
In the midst of my hunger and desires I discover gratitude that brings a new depth to my life. 

My life is rich.
Rich with experiences with and in this world.
Rich with memories of all the necessary steps that have brought me here.
Rich with dreams and excitement for what’s to come. 

My life is a collection of puzzle pieces which challenge me at times, but make everything more colorful, meaningful, beautiful. 

No, this is not what my life was supposed to be like.
But life is good. 

The Melancholy of ‘Now’

One week of summer break left.
I have a whole week before I go back to school, and yet I already have ‘Sunday melancholy’. That feeling you have on a Sunday night before it’s Monday again and the weekend will be over.
That yearning to stop time and linger in the moment forever.
That nagging thought in the back of my mind if I have spent my time wisely, if I have taken it all in, if I have rested enough, if I’m ready for this new year.
That sensation of excitement for the new year and all its adventures.

“Be still.
Be here.”

We can’t stay in the past or skip ahead to the future; all we have is right now.
And it’s our challenge to be present in the moment, to focus on the now, to not rush by the beauty of today.
But it’s also our greatest gift – Now is where we’ll find God, each other, ourselves. 

I don’t want to rush on ahead
in my own strength
if you’re right here

I’m not in a hurry
when it comes to your spirit
when it comes to your presence
when it comes to your voice

I’m learning to listen
just to rest in your nearness
I’m starting to notice
you are speaking

Will Reagan & Michael Ketterer

Practice being present today.
What are you noticing? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Loyal

It’s a matter of priority.
To continue asking because I care about you.
To keep investing because you’re absolutely worth it. 

It’s a matter of love.
To speak with your lips what your heart contains.
To give freely because you will be given abundance. 

It’s a matter of determination.
To keep going when life pushes you around.
To continue writing when others have fallen silent.

It’s a matter of strength.
To speak up when you have lost your voice.
To stand beside you when others walk away.

It’s a matter of perspective.
To always see the good in you.
To always give my best to you.

It’s a matter of character.
It’s not something you can learn, it is something that’s inside you.
Something that might be buried under a pile of busyness or lies or brokenness, but it is there.
Waiting for you to uncover it.
To grow into it.
To be true to who you really are.
Who he said you were meant to be.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Can Women Make Themselves?

I am surrounded by amazing women.
Ladies who live their lives courageously and follow their dreams with a wild heart.
Women who don’t give up when crisis hits them and walk through the valleys with dignity until they come out stronger on the other side.
Friends who open up and entrust me with their pain, their secrets, their dreams.
Wonderful men and women who walk this path alongside me and speak truth when I need to hear it the most.
My grandmother became a widow in her 50s and had to manage an entire farm on her own. If you need to know anything about tough life and love, she’s your girl.

My mother who would always say, ‘Women make themselves’, and challenged me to speak my mind and not limit myself in what I could do, may it be to set up a shelf or travel around the globe.

Women can do a lot of wonderful things, but we can’t do it all. 

We live in the 21st century, but sometimes I wonder if our minds are stuck somewhere in the Middle Ages. In our self proclaimed ‘postmodern society’, where equality and tolerance stand above it all, we still experience that women are not treated equally as men, let alone as human beings.
Women who are told from an early age on, ‘You can’t do this, you’re just a girl.’
Women who should have a career and still be the perfect mom at home.
Women who do the same work for less money.
Women who are stared at and judged for the way they look.
Women who are sold into enslaved prostitution so that others can satisfy their perverted needs.
Women who are beaten because they don’t obey their husbands.
Women who are seen as ‘little helpers’ and do all the work while others don’t lift a finger. Women who are supposed to function because men are supposed to enjoy themselves. Women who are expected to be everything and yet appreciated for nothing.
Women who are shamed into becoming something they don’t want to be because they’re too afraid to be themselves.

We have lamented this misery.
We have protested and been looked down upon with a complacent smile.
We have been promised better things, a quota in every work place.

But that’s not what we want.
That’s not what we need.
Unless our minds – and that includes men AND women – change, all policies are empty words. We together are the only ones who can bring about real transformation.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

The Moment I Became a TCK

It has been eighteen years since my parents moved our family to Uganda.
That’s a whole young adult’s life.

I still remember the day my father told us we’d be moving, I still hear that thought racing through my mind, ” I don’t want to live in the bush!”
I remember the months of preparation, vaccinations and goodbyes.
I still feel the shivers I had the night before we actually left because everything started to become so real.
I recall the smells, the faces, the places we saw when we first landed in our new home. The sound of “Mzungu, Mzungu” will forever be ringing in my ear and heart.

A whole young adult’s life of memories.

A lot has happened since then.
We have moved back to Germany and struggled with the pains of re-entry.
I have changed houses many more times, graduated from school and university, found a job, tried to settle down.

Eighteen years ago I became a TCK and no matter how much I have become accustomed to the German way of doing things, I am still a person who is caught between the worlds and often lost between cultures.
I yearn for a stable place to settle down and truly belong while googling flight prices and hearing that Fernweh call deep inside of me.
I wonder where all the time has gone and mourn the people, places and things I had to let go of.
I long to return to the places I still call home, to discover the parts of myself I have left behind there all these years ago.

What are your early TCK memories? How do you use your TCK experience today? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

In Search of Something Else

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for almost two years now.
I know my way around, I know the grocery stores and where to get good coffee.
I have found a few ‘favorites’ already.

But in the last few weeks I have pushed myself to explore a bit more where I live. Discover new places, new secrets, new treasures.
Just this morning, on my way home from the farmer’s market, I took a turn I hadn’t taken before and ended up in a beautiful little side alley with old houses and colourful summer flowers.

There’s always more and I want to live my life exploring and discovering everything this world has to offer.

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When life pushes me around and clouds my vision, I want to search for beauty in the mundane.
When they say, ‘people will never change’, I want to look closer, listen in and challenge others to be the best they can be.
When a story seems to have ended, I want to see how the narrative continues.
When my view of God is limited by what people have told me, I want to explore new ways to seek and find him.
When they say, ‘refugees deserve to drown in the Mediterranean’, I want to raise my voice for those who are silenced.
When they say, ‘Let’s close our borders and shut out doors’, I want to open my hands and heart to those who come with nothing.
When I experience fear, mistrust and hatred all around me, I want to speak up louder, love more fiercely, live even braver. 

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There are many ways to live this life.
May our ways always be marked by love.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.