[Five Minute Friday] Tree

I bet a lot of posts today will link the word “tree” with some sort of memory. How is that?
Trees seem to be a symbol for memories, mostly from childhood. They represent safety, comfort, a feeling of home.

There was only one time in my life that I actually lived in a house with a garden.
In Uganda we had a huge compound where the entire team lived, plus a few chicken, a dog and several cats. And a lot of insects and bugs…:)
The garden was beautiful, we had all kinds of flowers in all kinds of colors and shapes; never again have I seen such a diversity of flowers. And we had trees – bananas, casava, pawpaw, nuts, and mango. This one mango tree was the largest in the area and it will always be in my mind as the image of the garden. And the amazing mangos we got from it, so delicious!

I have no idea how old this tree is, but I am sure it would have a lot of stories to tell. Of all the different white people who came to the Ugandan bush, of how they struggled with homesickness, of how they settled into life and rejoiced over every saved life. Of how children grew up under the tree, played in the garden and enjoyed the abundance of God’s creation.

O sweet memories – and all of this because a tree? Well, sometimes it just takes this one word to get you going.

—————————————————–
If you’re interested in more thoughts on the prompt word “tree” head over to Lisa Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday!

[Five Minute Friday] Grace

In a society focused on hard work, success and self-accomplishment, this little word “grace” does not come up very often.
We are self-made people, we are educated in school and college, we work hard and bring home some money. We know what we want, we persevere. We build relationships and live happily ever after. We have today and tomorrow and our future planned out.
We’ve got it all. We don’t need grace.

We are wrong.

The fact that I opened my eyes this morning, that I breathe, that I can move my fingers across this keyboard to type these thoughts – that is grace. The comfort I receive from the people around me, the roof over my head, the abundance of food, money and everything else in my life – that is grace. The safety that calms me because I know that my future is in good hands and nothing (NOTHING!) I do or don’t do changes God’s love and blessings for me – that is grace.

My life is given and enriched by grace, there is no part of my life that does not have grace woven into it. I didn’t and can’t do anything to stop this grace from pouring into my life. No accomplishment, no failure, no hard work, no friendship.
We need grace. But more than that – we need the giver of all grace. Him, the giver of truly amazing grace. He has opened the door to grace long ago, and no power on earth can ever shut it.

——————————————————-
It’s Friday! Head over to Lisa Jo Baker to read more graceful stories!

[Five Minute Friday] Together

A normal person can call one specific place home, can name five or more friends they know since childhood, they know their little towns in and out. They belong. Even if they leave this place they just have to return home to be with people and places again. To be together.
Well, I guess I am not normal. If you ask me where home is it might take a while to explain. The places I am familiar with include the comfort of airports, the African red soil under your feet, the rain on iron sheet roofs. I can’t give you a name of my best friend, since they might change quickly. Friends are categorized by continent, country, period of my life we have spent together.
We were together then, but we are no longer now. We might be together now, but who knows where life takes me next? I can’t say.
What I can say is this: Even though we aren’t together I often wish we were. So badly that it hurts physically. No skype call (even video) can compete with a real hug, lying on the floor laughing so hard your tummy hurts, tasting new food, being still together. Technology brings you close, but not together.
While you and I move on with our lives, each in different parts of the world, meeting new people, places and challenges, we can miss and pray for each other.
This spiritual connection is such a sweet blessing to every friendship; it encourages and keeps alive the hope that we will be together again – at a place where continents, distance and skype calls don’t exist. Soon.
What a great word at Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday today! Much love to all readers and my dear, dear friends around the world.

[Five Minute Friday] Laundry

Laundry. Making dirty things look shiny again. Water. Soap.
Open the flap, put in your clothes and soap, close the flap.
Press the button.
Come back an hour later and your clothes are clean.

I guess this is how most of us do laundry.
Maybe once a week, maybe heaps of it if you have a big family.
Maybe the result is not always pleasing because you have not figured out the “separate your colors” rule yet.
This is laundry in Europe, the US or any other Western country.

But I remember a cooler, social way of doing laundry.
My childhood/teenage memories are filled with images of big pots of hot water, boiling underwear on a charcoal stove, women bending down for several hours, washing heaps of clothes by hand.
This is laundry the Ugandan style.

I remember the girl who used to help us with laundry and other things. Whenever we had a break in our home school rhythm we would sit with her, see how she washes the clothes and gave her a hand. While we rubbed the dirty pieces of clothes against each other, we would chat, exchange the latest news, laugh about the German-African differences, but also share family troubles or just life problems.
Doing laundry was not only about cleaning clothes, but also washing your heart and soul, getting rid of the week’s dirt and baggage.

How come that we do laundry so often, but don’t really take stock of our “emotional laundry”? Might be  refreshing, healing, cleansing once in a while.

————————————————————————
It’s Friday- over at Lisa Jo Baker you will find a lot more stories on Laundry today!

[Five Minute Friday] Ordinary

I guess none of us wants to be called ordinary. We all want to be special, super talented, beautiful, funny, strong, fast, extraordinary.

We are. You are more than ordinary.
There is a God out there saying ‘I have made you, I know every detail about you, inside and out- you are dear to my heart and there is no one like you.’

And yet, I am ordinary. And that is a good place to be in.
Out of my own strength there is nothing else I can be but ordinary. I have a limited amount of strength, I can only work for a certain amount of hours, I can only put a certain degree of make-up on my face each day, and most diet programs don’t work anyway. I can take music lessons, painting lessons, do exercises, work out…but this doesn’t make me less ordinary than other people. It just makes me human.
As a human being I am so glad I got someone in my life who makes me more than ordinary. Who takes everything I have to offer – my talents, my hours of practice, but also my incapabilities, my failures and my weaknesses – and turns them into something beautiful, something extraordinary.

The tasks ahead of me often are more than ordinary; everyday requires extraordinary patience, kindness, love for other people, strength and perseverance in the midst of storms – things an ordinary person could never accomplish.
Well, good to know that the one in me is greater than the storms around me; he fills the empty spaces within me with himself and turns me into so much more than ordinary – truly extraordinary.

————

It’s Friday, so I am linking up with Lisa Jo Baker to hear other extraordinary stories by ordinary people. See you there?!

[Five Minute Friday] True

True.

Speaking truly, acting truly, living truly. Being true.

I wonder how often we can say that about ourselves. Everyday we are forced to act a certain way, speak certain things, fit into certain expectations, believing certain things. But is it always true? Is it always who we really are?

Often it is very easy to just fit in, shape the image of yourself just a little more so people wouldn’t notice the real you. Ever since the beginning of Facebook you have like a thousand friends, just one click on “accept request” makes them your friends and they “get to know” you.

But do they really? Who can see the true you? Who do we allow to see to the inner parts of our soul, grant access to corners in our minds that even scare ourselves? Who are the people where we don’t care how we look, where we can be silent for a while, where we can laugh until our bellies hurt, where we can voice the weirdest, craziest and funniest thoughts, where we can cry and know there will be a comforting embrace waiting for us?

I don’t have many of such friends. And those I have did not come right away, it took a while. Some are family, some feel like family. How do I know? The moment I could be true –100% me without exclusion– was when I realized they are my friends. And with this I mean friends, not some icon on your facebook page.

And of course there is always the one who says of himself: I am the way, the TRUTH and the life….

It’s Friday – this means linking up with Lisa Jo Baker for a great community of TRUE stories, check it out!

[Five Minute Friday] She

She.
A pronoun refering to a female single person.
A simple world opening up a sphere of personhood, a sense of identity, a feeling of belonging, of being. She is part of an entire group of she’s- women being proud of being women, females, an essential part in the gender system.

Yet, there are beings that have forgotten to see themselves as “she”. There are some that have been denied the right to simply be “she”. They are still female, but that is all they are allowed to be. The woman in all her beauty is lost, denied behind it. “She” is reduced to the female body, the object of male lust, the slave of human desire.

She needs to hear again that she is so much more than this pronoun. That she is a person, a beautiful woman with a heart and soul and body that belongs to her. That she opens opens up this world of love, belonging and identity again.
She who stands on the outside seeing HER needs to say it, act it out, do it. Tell others that she is important, write it down, put it into gifts or actions. One way that many other beautiful women do that for many years now is the A21 campaign. They are women who recognize the need to preach these wonderful news and help other women in need to re-discover their beauty as women, human beings- she.

For more info, check: The A21 campaign

It’s almost midnight in Germany- but it’s still Friday. And this means linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and a whole bunch of writers. Come join us!