What We Miss in the Rush of Life

You might have noticed that it’s been awfully quiet around here for a few weeks.
The reason is that I have been traveling for the last five weeks.

One week of a TCK conference.
Oh, it was so comforting to talk to new and old friends and ponder the deep questions in life.

One week in Brno/ Czech Republic with the school choir.
It was really interesting engaging with my students and colleagues outside of the classroom.

Two weeks in the Philippines.
No work, just rest. Sleep, beach, crystal clear water, friendly people, culture shock. This break was so desperately needed and I have seen some of the most breathtaking places on earth.

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One week in Wales with a student exchange.
The girls were very open and easy to handle, so my colleague and I could also enjoy ourselves and get to know each other a little better.

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Five weeks of travel.
Five weeks of meeting inspiring people, admiring creation’s beauty, sharing deep connections, making new friends.
Five weeks of blessings.

This sounds great, right?
Well, yes.

But while I still smile at the memory of a conversation or a funny experience, I realize that I’m not grateful.

I can’t be.
Not yet.

The new inputs have been too many in the last few weeks, my mind and soul are too over stimulated to feel much of anything.
After every trip I got home and unpacked my suitcase. I did a load of laundry. I repacked the suitcase for the next trip. I didn’t even bother going shopping, so I just stare into an empty fridge or just buy take-out.

In the midst of all this, I have no time to unpack my heart.
To let memories flash past my inner eye and marvel at what I saw, heard, felt.
All I want is to sit by the window for a bit and daydream of  what I experienced.
To write, to reflect, to process.

Can you relate?

Life dictates us around so often – faster, faster.
But the more I travel, the more I realize – slower, slower.
Only when we stop for a moment, we discover the richness of our experiences, the depth of connection, the value of home.
Only then will we be truly grateful for all these blessings and how they will shape us.

P.S.: I hope to find some time to write and share about my time in the Philippines very soon!


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Inside the Mess

On Wednesday I had visitors come over who wanted to stay the night.
I was looking forward to their visit, but I was also a little nervous.
My schedule was completely packed because I had been in and out of the city for the most part of the last two weeks. There were clothes lying around on the floor, unpacked bags on the chairs, piles of paper on the table. A fine layer of dust covered the surfaces. My apartment was a mess.
How could I invite people into this place?
So I started cleaning on Tuesday night, frantically getting rid of the chaos and presenting the best version of me and my place.

Why do I do this?
Why do I care so much about what others think?
Why do we polish our lives online and offline?

Sometimes I wonder if we do similar things with God.
If our lives were like an apartment, we would only show him the living room where everything is neat and tidy.
We would clean up and present the best version of ourselves.
We would keep him away from the dusty corners and the dark sub-basement.

The visit was great and it was really nice to meet all these new people.
For those who know me a little also know that I love hosting people.
But the next morning I woke up with the worst headache.
Suddenly I felt really uncomfortable.
Me, the hostess, couldn’t host anymore.
I had to drop my facade and allow others to see inside my mess. They looked into cupboards and drawers, they moved around in my house.
They saw a little bit more of me.

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And somehow they didn’t seem to mind at all.
What if we stopped worrying for a second and decide to let go?
What if the moments of seemingly “losing it” lead to greater depth and connection?
What if God wanted to see it all?
What if he was more interested in our darkness than  our superficial perpection?
What if this mess actually leads to true healing?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Everyday Heroes

Three years ago, my mom and I started a tradition.
One weekend per year, we do a ladies’ getaway. Two days of hiking, relaxing, stuffing ourselves with delicious food and talking through the night.

My mom is no longer the woman who cooks my food or does everything for me, she is a friend I can talk and laugh with.
She is a great cheerleader who texts early in the morning to wish you a nice day.
She somehow manages to stay up to date with all of our crazy lives.
She advises or just listens.
She encourages to take a risk and say No sometimes.

On Sunday, we celebrate Mother’s Day here in Germany.
When I went to the post office in Wednesday to mail something for my mom, the guy behind the counter freaked: “Oh, is it this Sunday? Thanks for the reminder, I need to get something then!”

I can relate. But it also made me think.
Moms invest their entire lives, love and soul – so why do we only give them one day a year to truly appreciate them?

I am not a mom and I don’t know if I’ll ever be.
But luckily I’m surrounded by friends who are great moms.
They model the depths and challenges, but they also allow me to partake in the love and joy children being to your life.
They are the everyday heroes.

Motherhood comes in different forms and shapes.
So what makes a woman a mother?

My friend Sophie, a brilliant mother herself, explores this question in her new photography series define: mother.
Read touching stories and intimate images on her blog.
The cover image is from her beautiful series as well.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Shut Up, Narrative!

You should do more exercise.
You should finish that project at work like…yesterday.
You should make more time for your friends.
You should go to bed earlier.
You should read the Bible more.

Should, must, have to.
Isn’t that the narrative constantly playing in our minds?
It pushes us to impossible heights sometimes, but mostly it drives us crazy.
It eats us away.
It kills the life we are supposed to live.

So let’s stop for a moment and dig a little deeper.
Why should we do all these things? And why do we give in to the “shoulds” so often?
Because we think we need more money.
Because we think the world will stop turning the moment we lay our hands down.
Because we think that we can rest later.
Because we think that we are what we do.
Because we think that God expects a special routine.

We think and think, and slowly by slowly these thoughts become beliefs.
Beliefs about ourselves, God and the world.

If we give ourselves permission and rest for a while, we might hear a different narrative, softly whispered into our hearts.

Hey, I’m so glad you’re here.
Why don’t you sit down and relax?
The world will continue turning, I got this in my hands. Literally.
You won’t be able to just drop everything, but you are free to choose.
Do the things that are beneficial to you. In body, mind and spirit.
Or do nothing at all sometimes because you are who you are.
And that’s enough.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

More, Please!

I did not expect this.
After keeping it a secret for a few weeks I finally spilled the beans on Wednesday: I signed a book contract! (Insane, right? Here’s the full story.)
The entire day my phone went crazy with feedback. Some long lost friends sent me messages, people liked and shared the news, others left the most thoughtful and touching comments.

I did hope for some sort of feedback, but I never imagined… this. So much love, support, interest, excitement… I can only say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

Reading all these lovely messages totally made my day, I felt like I was flying. My insides were all excited and I couldn’t help but walk around with a big smile all day.
Encouragement is like water for a withered flower, like a breath of fresh air, like a firm rock you can stand on as you continue your journey.

So why don’t we give it more often?
More laughter.
More kindness.
More time.
More encouragement.

It doesn’t take much to encourage others.
We don’t have to wait for something extraordinary to come along to encourage someone.
A smile, an uplifting comment or a hug can make a difference already.
A sign that says, “I’m glad you’re here. You don’t have to do anything, just be. That’s enough.”


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

A Deeper Voice

One of my earliest memories is my mom singing to us.
Whenever we went to bed she would sit down next to us and read us a story or sing a song. Songs about the moon and God’s love for the world. Peaceful songs. I must admit that I forgot many of them as I grew older, which is sad when I don’t know the words to sing to my godson.

Our house was always full of music.
We all played different instruments and I guess it must have been quite painful for my parents to hear us practicing.
Something we never had to practice was singing.
My sister and I would just sing along to a CD and improvise harmonies.
Often times we would meet as a family in the evening to sing a few songs of worship.

Since then a lot of things have changed.
We have gotten older, we have moved out, we don’t have that much time to be together anymore. But whenever my sister and I gather, we make time to sing.
We pick a song we liked on the radio and just get started.
No practice, no rules, just singing.
Sometimes she leads, sometimes I invent something.
We improvise and create together.

And most of the time it sounds magical and we can’t believe this just came out of our mouths.
A creation we can’t just repeat.
A one-time opus we have to enjoy in the moment.

Singing is a way to connect on a different, maybe deeper, level.
It’s a way to express yourself without using a lot of words.

There’s music all around us.
The trees softly moving in the wind.
The birds joyfully welcoming a new day.
The lady next to me humming when she’s busy.
The ocean powerfully breaking wave after wave.
The sounds of our lives coming together.
Sounds that tell us: I am here. I see you. I hear you. Always.
All we have to do is listen.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

How to Fill an Empty Soul

“Are you taking a break? I haven’t seen you on Facebook and instagram lately.”

That is correct.

A few weeks ago I couldn’t take it anymore. I just felt so unsatisfied when I looked at social media posts and how polished everyone’s lives where. They all looked so happy and perfect – while I was busy and alone and imperfect. I scrolled down feeds in search of some sort of meaningful news, but all I got was videos about cats and clickbait headlines.
The more time I spent on social media, the angrier I became and the emptier I felt.

It was time to get out.

The season of Lent provided a perfect time to go offline and see how my view of the world would change (hopefully).

It was quite surprising to see how much I didn’t miss it all. The white noise of cat videos, game invitations, gifs…It was all quiet out of a sudden. Finally, there was some space to listen, to breathe, to learn.

But it was also nice to rediscover some online friends who I’ve really missed during this time, I must admit. They use media very well to open my eyes for beauty and point me to unexpected treasures in the mundane.

The most shocking discovery was to realize how much time I waste on social media. It’s so easy to just pick up the phone when you’re waiting for something or feel bored. I felt almost conditioned to move my fingers towards icons, they were already trained to swipe down, to tap. It seemed impossible to just read a book, to just watch a book, to just ficus. I always needed something else. I was hoping that someone, anything, would care about me and entertain me. Shocking, sobering, eye-opening.

When I stopped looking at my phone for direction, I suddenly had so much time.
Time to really focus on the important things.
Time to intentionally connect with people.
Time to leave the camera behind and truly see beauty.
Time to listen to birds singing.
Time to inhale the smell of spring flowers and new life awakening.

Time to fill my heart again which things that matter and life that restores.

These weeks have definitely been a learning experience. The semicolon is a good symbol for it: I want to put a period – a stop – to wasting time on nonsense distraction – but I also want to connect with God, with people and the real world – focused and intentionally. Even if this means disconnecting online.

Have you ever taken a social media break? What have you learned? I would love to hear your experiences!

My friend Marilyn has written about this topic as well, check out her thoughts here!

Psst: I’ve also been working on some exciting news. Will share more about it next week! Stay tuned! 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.