Let’s keep it simple.

Welcome to the new year everyone! Did you have a good time with family, friends and food? I hope so.

My New Year’s Eve plans were cancelled at the last minute and I had to find an alternative quickly.  Somehow this event comes with so many expectations: the perfect location, the perfect food, the perfect conversations – the last night of the year has to be the best party ever.
The more I thought about it, the more stressed out I felt about it all. Why do we make such a big fuss about things sometimes?
We work and prepare and keep ourselves busy.
We worry what other people will think about our homes, clothes, friendships, life plans and decisions.
We try so hard to follow all the rules to please God and be good Christians. We bury ourselves in arguments and theologies, just so we know it all and deal with it all. 

This Christmas was full of people. A blogger friend from the US and my little brother from South Africa came to visit me and we spent lots of nights talking.
About the joys and pain of life.
About what it means to deconstruct your faith and rediscover old truths.
About the simplicity of it all when we watch out for it.
We laughed and we cried together and I realized: this is what life and faith are about. Relationships. Simple. Complex. Challenging. Beautiful. Life-giving.

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So if I have to say anything about this new year ahead of us: Let’s keep it simple. 
Let’s be okay to not be perfect all the time.
Let’s leave the mess for a while and focus on the people around us instead.
Let’s never grow tired of sharing our time, our hearts, our lives.
Let’s continue to look out for God in the midst of all of this, right here in the mundane.  

I ended up celebrating New Year’s Eve with a family I didn’t know that well yet and their two kids. A very small group of people, Raclette, stories, and watching the fireworks over the city from the balcony.
And it was perfect.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today. One prompt, five minutes to write and an awesome community of writers and cheerleaders. Why don’t you join us this year?

If you’re German-speaking and looking for a way to discover God in your mundane narratives, now might be a good time to start reading my book “Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott”. I would love to see you on this journey!

 

Eine Einladung im Advent/An Invitation for Advent

Am Samstag ging ich durch die Straßen auf dem Weg zu einem Buchladen. Die engen Gassen der Innenstadt waren voll mit halbfertigen Holzständen, überall lagen Holzleisten, Samttücher, Tacker herum. Es war bereits dunkel, aber man konnte die Geräusche von Arbeit und geschäftigen Menschen hören. Was passiert hier, ging mir durch den Kopf, habe ich was verpasst?

Ja, mal wieder.

In den nächsten Tagen beginnt in vielen Städten der Weihnachtsmarkt.
Nächsten Sonntag ist der erste Advent.
In wenigen Wochen ist bereits Heiligabend.

Mal wieder überfällt mich die Weihnachtszeit inmitten meines Arbeitsstresses, meines vollen Terminplans, meines leeren Herzens. Ich fürchte den ersten Advent jedes Jahr ein wenig; ist er doch wie ein Spiegel, der mir deutlich zeigt, wie beschäftigt ich bin.  

Weihnachten kommt und ich bin nicht darauf vorbereitet.

Kennst du das?

Wir können uns dem Ereignis nicht entziehen, um uns herum funkelt die Weihnachtsbeleuchtung, es duftet nach Glühwein und gebrannten Mandeln. Wir backen Plätzchen und quälen uns durch volle Kaufhäuser. Wir schreiben Karten und packen Geschenke ein.
Wir laufen mit im Weihnachtstrott – aber sind wir bereit für das Fest? 

Im vollen Gedränge eines Weihnachtsmarktes, im gehetzten Tempo unseres Lebens ist es sehr leicht, den Blick für das Wesentliche zu verlieren. Der Grund für Weihnachten – Jesus – geht so manchmal in der Masse an Ereignissen und Aufgaben unter.
Jesus, das kleine Kind in der Krippe, der anstößige Messias, der provokante Gesellschaftsveränderer – ist uns wohlvertraut und doch gerade in der Weihnachtszeit so fremd.

Was wäre, wenn wir im Advent besonders nach ihm Ausschau hielten? 
Wenn wir unsere Augen dafür schärfen, wie er uns in anderen Menschen und inmitten aller Vorbereitung begegnet?
Wenn wir unsere Herzen dafür öffnen, dass er uns neu überraschen darf?

Ich lade dich ein, den Advent dieses Jahr nicht einfach an dir vorbeiziehen zu lassen. 
Gemeinsam innezuhalten, zu beobachten, zu warten.
Sich auszutauschen über Erlebnisse des Alltags und göttliche Überraschungen.

Das muss nicht viel sein: Ich werde jeden Samstag im Advent ein Kapitel aus meinem Buch “Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott” vorlesen, in denen es genau um dieses Weihnachtswarten geht. Über die Woche verteilt gibt es Gelegenheit, sich in einer Facebookgruppe oder direkt hier in den Kommentaren über Fragen auszutauschen und von eigenen Erfahrungen zu berichten. Oder auch einfach nur mitzulesen und sich mitzufreuen.

Bist du dabei? Schreib mir eine Nachricht und ich füge dich der Gruppe hinzu! 

Ich freu mich darauf, gemeinsam das Besondere an Weihnachten wieder zu entdecken!


On Saturday I walked through the streets on my way to a bookstore. The narrow alleys were packed with half-finished wooden stalls; everywhere lay wooden planks, pieces of cloth, staplers. It was already dark, but you could hear the sounds of work and busy people. What’s happening here, I thought, did I miss something?

Yes, I have, once again.

In the next few days, Christmas markets will be starting all around the country.
Next Sunday is the first advent.
In just a few weeks it will be Christmas Eve.

Once again the Christmas season breaks in on me, in the midst of my busy weeks, my more than full calendar, my empty heart. I fear this first advent a little because it’s like a mirror telling me how busy I truly am. 

Christmas is coming and I’m not prepared for it.

Do you know this feeling?

We can’t avoid this season, all around us are twinkling lights, smells of mould wine and roasted nuts. We bake Christmas cookies and fight our way through crowded department stores. We write cards and wrap presents.
We are part of the Christmas trot, but are we ready for the event?

In the midst of a crowded Christmas market, in the hasty tempo of our lives it is very easy to lose sight of the essential. The reason for Christmas – Jesus – is sometimes lost in the mass of events and tasks. Jesus, the little child in the manger, the offensive Messiah, the provocative society transformer is all too familiar to us but yet so far, especially in this Christmas season.

What if we were to look for him, especially during this advent season?
What if we focus our eyes how we meets us in other people in the midst of all our preparations?
What if we open our hearts for his everyday surprises?

I want to invite you to not let advent just pass by this year. 
Let’s pause together, observe, wait.
Let’s share everyday experiences and godly interruptions.

It doesn’t have to be much: Every Saturday during this advent season I will read a chapter from my book “Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott” (German only) which talk about waiting for Christmas. During the week we can share in a private Facebook group or here in the comments. But you’re also welcome to just read and rejoice along.

Are you in? Let me know and I’ll add you to the group. 

I look forward to rediscovering the beauty of Christmas with you!

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.

Why It’s Important to Push Each Other

It’s almost a year since I moved to this new city. Quite a crazy idea – moving during the school year when your head is definitely not in the game of making new friends and settling in somewhere. Well, sometimes work forces you to do crazy things.

A lot has happened in this almost year. 
I now know more than the way to work and the grocery store. I actually stumbled across some real beauty in my own neighborhood.
I have survived my first year of teaching and just started my second one. And I still like it. (Good because otherwise I might have a problem with my career choice…)
I have written a book which was launched two weeks ago. This is still a whirlwind of emotions and I’m enjoying every minute of this ride.

I have found people who support me.

Colleagues who have welcomed me in and made me feel part of the team. Some of them have already become friends.
Creative minds who cheered for me when I signed the book contract and encouraged me to be brave with my words.
Dear friends from near and far who have overwhelmed me with their pictures about the book, cheerful posts and warm words.
Faithful souls who have prayed and believed for me when I couldn’t.

There’s no material value in support, no visible product in the end. 
But our support can mean the world to someone else. 
A word of encouragement in tough times.
A hug.
A celebration for each other’s accomplishments.
An hour of your time.
It’s like the wind in our sails that pushes us forward on this ocean of life. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
And sorry for being absent these last few weeks. I had a book to launch… 🙂

It’s Here! It’s Here! [plus a Giveaway!]

It’s Friday and we gather at Five Minute Friday to write about neighbors today. This week has been crazy for so many people around the world, but it has also been an amazing example of the love human beings are capable of.

It’s also September 1, and this means it’s time for the post below. This has been two years in the making and with a lot of supporting friends and neighbors it has now come into reality. I hope you join me for the celebrations!


The last few months have been a whirlwind of emotions.
There was excitement – very quiet at first because I had to keep it all a secret.
There was exhaustion – so much to prepare and so little time.
There were aha-moments – so many new things and techniques to learn.
There were doubts, oh yes – inner voices wondering whether I’m doing the right thing and whether this would all work out.

I started writing Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott two years ago when my faith journey seemed more like a walk through the desert and my beliefs were uncertain and shaky. This is when God stepped in and turned around my understanding of him, myself and the world. He opened my eyes for his doings in unexpected places and his presence in mundane activities.
The more I began looking for him the more my perspective changed. I had to, I just had to, write down the stories where I had met God in my journey of life. So I collected stories, thoughts, emotions and decided to share them with friends.
With some encouragement and a lot of God’s grace, these stories have turned into a book.

Today, there is a new emotion.
Today, there’s joy.
Pure, unclouded, sheer joy.

Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott releases today!
It is officially available everywhere!

If you’re struggling to see God in your busy life, if church traditions have become empty forms for you, if you want to add new ideas to your faith life – I hope you consider buying the book for yourself or to give it to someone who might enjoy reading it. You can buy the book here.

I’m over the moon to see my words on actual paper with my actual name on it and I’m so glad for all the friends, family and blog readers who have encouraged and cheered me on in this process. From the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU!

To celebrate the release of Fliege ins Leben, I want to share my joy with you.

GIVEAWAY

Update: The giveaway is now closed.
The lucky winners are Tabita Steegen and Markus Völlm. Congratulations!

I have five copies of Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott to give away for free! Just follow the instructions below and you might be one of the lucky winners.

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How can I win a copy? 
That’s easy. Just follow this blog (via WordPress or via email, buttons are on the top right), and share this post on your social media platforms. Use #fliegeinsleben as a hashtag, if possible. Then come back here and tell me in the comments: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blog… each share makes an entry in the giveaway, so the more you share the more likely you’ll win!
Winners will be drawn on September 8 and posted here. So come back to find out if you won!
Please note: This book is in German, sorry to all my dear English-speaking readers!

Die vergangenen paar Monate waren ein Wirbelsturm an Emotionen.
Es gab viel Aufregung – wenn zuerst auch recht leise, da ich alles geheim halten musste.
Es gab viel Erschöpfung – so viel vorzubereiten und so wenig Zeit.
Es gab Aha-Momente – so viele neue Dinge und Techniken, die ich lernen durfte.
Es gab Zweifel, oh ja – diese inneren Stimmen, die mich fragen, ob ich das richtige tue und am Ende alles gut wird.

Vor zwei Jahren habe ich begonnen, Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott zu schreiben, als mir meine Glaubensreise eher wie eine Wanderung durch die Wüste erschien und meine Überzeugungen alles andere als standhaft waren. In dieser Zeit kam Gott und hat mein Verständnis von ihm, mir selbst und der Welt umgekrempelt. Er hat mir die Augen geöffnet für das, was er an unerwarteten Orten tut und mir seine Gegenwart in meinem gewöhnlichen Alltag gezeigt.
Je mehr ich nach ihm Ausschau hielt, desto mehr hat sich meine Perspektive verändert. Ich musste, ich musste einfach, die Geschichten aufschreiben, wie Gott mir auf meiner Lebensreise begegnet. Also habe ich Geschichten, Gedanken und Emotionen gesammelt und sie mit ein paar Freunden geteilt.
Mit ihrer Ermutigung und viel von Gottes Gnade sind diese Geschichten nun zu einem Buch geworden.

Heute ist da ein neues Gefühl.
Heute ist da Freude.
Pure, ungetrübte, tiefe Freude.

Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott erscheint heute! 
Es ist überall offiziell erhältlich! 

Wenn du dich schwertust, Gott in deinem vollen Leben zu sehen, wenn Kirchentraditionen leere Formen für dich geworden sind, wenn du etwas Neues in deinem Glaubensleben suchst – dann hoffe ich, dass du das Buch für dich selbst kaufst oder jemandem schenkst, der es vielleicht gerne lesen würde. Du kannst es hier kaufen.

Ich freue mich wahnsinnig, meine Worte auf wirklichem Papier mit meinem Namen zu sehen und ich bin dankbar für alle Freunde, Familie und Blog Leser, die mich in dem Prozess begleitet und ermutigt haben. Aus tiefstem Herzen: DANKE!

Zur Feier dieses Tages möchte ich meine Freude mit euch teilen.

GEWINNSPIEL

Ich verlose fünf Exemplare von Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott! Folge einfach den Anweisungen weiter unten und vielleicht bist du einer der glücklichen Gewinner.

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Wie kann ich gewinnen? 

Das ist einfach. Folge diesem Blog (entweder per Mail oder WordPress, die Buttons findest du rechts oben) und teile diesen Post auf deinen Social Media Plattformen. Nutze dafür das Hashtag #fliegeinsleben. Dann komm zurück und erzähl mir davon in den Kommentaren: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blog…jedes share ist eine Gewinnchance. Das heißt, je mehr du teilst, desto höher sind deine Chancen!
Die Gewinner werden am 8. September gezogen und hier veröffentlicht. 

 

The Signposts of Life

When we find ourselves at a crossroads in life we need to make some tough decisions. Since we have more choices than all the other generations before us, this has become more and more difficult.

When you graduate from school and need to choose a career.
When you move to new places and see friendships change or even come to an end.
When you feel lonely and long for deep relationships in your life.
When you start questioning what you believe and are afraid to lose yourself in the process.
When your book comes out in a week (a week!) and you’re not sure if this was the right idea.

Don’t we all need some guidance in our lives sometimes? 

Unfortunately, there’s no map for this thing called life.
There are no downtrodden paths we can simply follow.

But I believe there are signposts that can help us to navigate tough waters.

There is the spirit inside of us nudging us gently into a good direction.
There are our instincts that hopefully keep us from making irrational decisions.
There are good companions who challenge us with thoughts and questions. I just spent a few days with great friends, deep conversations and challenging insights – what a blessing to have such people in our lives!
There is a God who leaves behind signs in this world for us to detect – signs to show us we belong, we are loved, we are cared for. We are not forgotten.

There might be more guidance out there than we’d imagine.
Because we can be guides to others when we’d least expect it. We can point each other to the signposts and steer through the storms together. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
I am serious, my book releases NEXT FRIDAY and I’m nervous, excited, freaked out…all of it! If you haven’t pre-ordered it – there’s still time!