When We Meet Here

A simple piece of wood can mean the world to some.

When we meet at the table, a transformation takes place.
All of a sudden,
your age,
your profession,
your ethnicity,
your family status,
your gender,
your faith don’t matter.
Here we are all equal.
Human beings, ready to share a meal together. 

When we meet at the table, we gather with our stories and know that people will listen. Our questions
and doubts
are welcome
because we trust others to hold them for us. 

At the table we delight in the colorful diversity and richness creation has to offer.
We taste
the goodness of the Lord
in new flavors,
spices
and recipes. 

When we meet at the table, we enjoy each other’s company by doing something mundane as eating together.
Everyone does it
everyday,
but far too many of us have to eat alone so often. 

Being together over food nourishes our bodies,
warms our hearts
and strengthens our souls.   

A simple place that has become home to so many. 

Welcome people with their thoughts and stories to your table – and you might give them the world today. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

A Full Table

Last night we sat at a full table.
Full of delicious food and fancy wines.
Full of jokes and laughter.
Full of stories.

Stories of travels across Europe I was able to do this year.
Stories of war and survival, of courage and human connection in dire circumstances.
Stories of hope throughout history.
Stories of dreams for the future that students, colleagues and friends have shared with me.
Stories of struggles and big questions as they allowed me a glimpse into their lives and hearts.
Stories of growing up and discovering how beautifully complex this world is.

Being on the road and walking alongside so many people this year has been a huge privilege.
Being a witness to their stories, thoughts and dreams has been an immeasurable gift I’ll treasure for the months and years to come.

Last night we sat at a table full of gratitude.
Happy Friendsgiving.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

When I close my eyes…

… I can see it all.
The table, decorated with autumn leaves
and burning candles.

Plates filled to the brim with food
in different shapes and colors,
exuding a seductive smell.

People who’ve known each other for years,
gathering to share a meal,
to celebrate life.

I can hear our laughter because
someone has made a bad joke,
but that’s how we are
with each other.

I can hear the stories
we tell each other,
memories of days past and
dreams of the future.

Questions and thoughts
we don’t have to keep from each other
because that’s who we are –
friends who carry
each other’s thoughts,
who hold each other’s hearts.

But when I open my eyes it’s all gone.

There’s just me sitting
at an empty table
in an empty apartment.

There’s just
an empty heart
yearning to connect
with people,
longing for
a place
to belong
and grow.

And I realize that
it won’t ever change
unless I actively walk
towards my dreams.

Unless I take small steps
towards other people
and invest in a relationship
from scratch.

Unless I give something
of myself and
trust the other person
to treat it well.

Unless I show up
for someone else,
time and time
again.

Unless I step in front of
my own door and go
where people are.

Unless I set my table
and welcome people
to join me there.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
Photo courtesy of Hannah Busing @Unsplash

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!

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.

The Magic of the Ordinary

 

Early on Friday mornings I look for the Five Minute Friday prompt on Kate’s website and many times, I find a story to tell, a thought to share.

Lately this has become really difficult for me.

What should I write about?
My life seems plain, my schedules busy and boring, my experiences ordinary.
Every day is the same, everything is just too familiar, so what’s the point in sharing? 

They are not the same.

On Thursday I gathered friends around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving.
The table was full with good food, wine and laughter.
When we had stuffed our bellies, we filled our souls and shared what we’re thankful for this year.
Stories of recovery and health.
Stories of birth and new life.
Stories of perfect timing and success.
Stories of people who enrich our lives in unexpected ways.
Stories of the many little gifts we tend to overlook in our lives.

Sometimes the people and things in our lives become so familiar that we don’t even recognise them anymore. Naming our gifts and listening to each other does something to us: We become aware of the magic that is all around us, the blessings that are in the ordinary.
I’m grateful for nights like these around my table when others remind me that no day is the same and no life is taken for granted and every gift is unique and worthy to be acknowledged and appreciated.

I’m also grateful for inspiring people who tell their stories online. Here’s Ruthie’s story I listened to yesterday, if you’re interested.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Open House, Open Hearts

Let me tell you a secret about Germans: They are very private people. It takes a long time until they move away from superficial topics like the weather and actually share something about themselves. It takes even longer for them to invite you into their homes. For someone who has lived in cultures famous for their hospitality, this is sometimes a little unnerving.

I love hosting people.
Gathering friends and strangers around a table, enjoying great food and inspiring conversations.
Showing and giving something from myself, hoping that it would empower others to do the same.
Watching how an invisible bond is formed between us and we all leave a little different from the way we came.  

When we invite others into our space, we do more than offer a chair and some food.
We open our hearts and allow someone to see a bit more of ourselves. They see where and how we live, which tells them a little bit more of who we are.

In a society that takes so much pride in individuality, we have somehow lost touch with each other. We all want our independence while we discover a deep longing for community and a sense of belonging.
This cannot happen overnight, but it starts with one invite, one open house, one open heart.

Who can you invite into your house and life this week? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.