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.

 

A Summer with No Plans

One and a half weeks until summer break.
While I am really looking forward to six weeks of no schedules, no students and no early mornings, I must admit that I’m also scared.

I’m scared that my to-do list is too full.
I’m worried that I can’t get it all done and will let people down.
I’m afraid that the six weeks will fly by and I’ll have wasted my time with nonsense. 
I need rest so desperately, and yet I somehow don’t know how. 

As I sit down and pour my heart out to you, you take me back to a familiar story.
A tale of two sisters who have a house full of guests and a long list of chores.
While one of them hustles and stresses and runs around, the other one just sits down and listens.

I identify with the hustler and sympathize with the listener, when I hear your voice ringing in my ear and heart:

Don’t do. Just be. 

The truth is so simple.
But sometimes the simple things are the hardest to practice.
I will give it a try this summer.
Thank you.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

The Art of Vacationing

When I was growing up, our family vacations looked like this:
Drive for hours, visit friends in other cities or countries, stay at holiday homes or at someone’s house.
We never stayed in a hotel because
a) missionary families can’t afford that and
b) it felt somehow wrong to be in a fancy clean place and have other people serve you when there’s poverty and a completely different culture out there to explore.

I loved our kind of vacations.
We saw, experienced and tasted things so far off from any hotel complex or all inclusive trip. Whenever I travel today, it’s as close to the local culture as possible.

So it’s quite understandable that I was hesitant at first, when  a friend called me in April and asked if I wanted to escape into the sun with her. One week in Egypt, all-inclusive style.

But when I looked at the non-changing, depressing grey sky outside, I agreed to come.

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When we arrived at the hotel at 3 a.m.,  I couldn’t believe we would stay here.
Everything seemed like a magical wonderland – a beautiful compound with little bungalows and a pool, directly next to the Red Sea.
The first day was weird and I caught myself asking, “is this included in the price?” whenever we were offered large towels, more food or a drink.

It felt like I don’t deserve to be spoiled like that.

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But I do. You do.

We all deserve to treated nicely and be pampered once in a while.
When life keeps us busy and drains all energy from us – we all deserve some space for rest and service and restoration. Even more so, we need the permission to let go and accept the gifts all around us. 
They might be a week in some beautiful place.
They might be a small act of service that someone does for us.
They might be a day off when we allow ourselves to fully rest.
They might be a word of encouragement, a good night’s sleep, a healthy meal with friends.
The One who made us, the One who knows all and sees all,  has offered us life in abundance – and it’s all-inclusive. 

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Full Disclosure: The week was balm to my soul. 
Sleeping without an alarm clock.
Delicious food.
Basking in the sun.
Reading without a time limit.
Overcoming my fear of water (that’s a whole different story to share!).
Spending the day without an agenda.

What was the best vacation you’ve had so far?
What will your next vacation look like? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

What If…Still Then

If I am caught up in life’s busyness, blind to watch the world around me.
There’s still beauty.
If the darkness of the world seem to overpower me and weigh heavy on my soul.
There’s still joy. 
If weekly routines and relationships suck the spirit out of me.
There’s still life.
In abundance. 

If I fall short of my own or other people’s expectations and struggle to forgive myself.
There’s still grace. 
If there are more questions than answers and I wrestle with doubts about the big things in life.
There’s still truth.
Buried deep inside my heart. 

If I feel unworthy, imperfect and unfinished, unable to receive, incapable to give.
There’s still love.
Perfect, unconditional love.
Always. 

If I am called to move ahead, taking one step after the other into the unknown.
There’s still faith. 

If I feel like I’ve gone on a search to discover beauty, to experience life, to find myself and got lost along the way.
There’s still you.
Walking with me every step of the journey.
Waiting for me as I learn.
To fully live. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

A Reminder for the Parched Soul

“So, what are your plans for this weekend?” my friend asked me as we walked out the school door.
“Oh, I have a Skype meeting in an hour, then I need to cook some food for friends who just had a baby, tonight I’ll go to a concert and tomorrow my parents might visit.” “So…you’re basically taking care of everyone else, but can you please also take care of yourself this weekend?”

Boy, am I glad to have friends like that who point me back to what’s really important.

Four years ago, after a major breakdown, I began to be more intentional about the way I work and rest, Which doesn’t mean that everything always goes well. So here is a reminder for myself to rest, and maybe it will speak to you, too.

You need to rest.
It is a great invention and you need to make more use of it.
It is essential for your soul to live, not just survive.

It is okay to rest and let work be work for a while.
What you do does not define who you are.
You’re a human being, not a human doing.

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Rest does not always mean to do nothing. 
The gift of Sabbath can come in many different forms and ways.
Sleep in.
Meet up with friends.
Read a good book.
Shut off social media for a while.
Seek solitude.
Take a walk.
Cook great food.
Look out for beauty in the mundane.

Find the things that replenish your empty soul, heal your sore feet and restore the abundance of life inside of you. 

Whatever it is for you – do it! Often.

If you’re interested in resting and Sabbath, sign up for Shelly Miller’s Sabbath Society – letters that focus your mind and bless your soul.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.