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.

 

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.

There Should Be Something

I’m writing this from the Grand Canal in Triest, Italy where I vacation with my family for a week. In typical bella vita fashion, we have spent the last few days with lots of delicious food, more wine and even more gelato while strolling through the streets that are heavily drenched in Austrian, Yugoslavian and Italian history.

Today we climbed the steps to San Silvestro, the oldest church in the city when my sister called me, “Come quick, you need to listen to this!” I could hear the sounds of a piano – distant at first, then louder and louder as I came closer.

I entered the little basilica and there was a young man playing Beethoven.

We could have walked by and just continue with our sightseeing.
We could’ve brushed it off and just carry on with life.
But there was something about this sound that made us pause.

I sat down in one of the rows, closed my eyes and enjoyed this free concert. The deep roar of the bass notes. The thrill of the fast arpeggios. The energy that made the entire room vibrate. What a beautiful gift in the middle of a warm summer day.

I want my life to be like this piano concert.

There shall be something about the things I do that makes people to break in their step and pause.
There shall be something about the words I speak and write that attracts others to come closer and listen in.
There shall be something about my life and my relationships that invites others through the door, allows them to pause and find some rest in the middle of their busy lives.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

No Longer Strangers

“Hey, do you have five minutes? I’d like to do your hair for free!”
The question hit me by surprise as I was walking around the duty free area at the airport. Normally, I’m not a person who likes to be sold something to and I’m not into beauty products either, but I had some time until boarding and the guy just looked too friendly, so I agreed.

I expected him to tell me about some fancy new product which would make my life so much better. I expected him to sell me something I’d regret later on.

I didn’t expect what happened next.

He brushed my hair and started to straighten it. I am too lazy to do it most of the time, so I really enjoyed this extra service.
He asked me where I was going and what my life was like. We chatted about big city life and international food and how different people were. We exchanged the best advice on where to travel next.
He told me that he was from Bulgaria and how he had left his home country to start a career as a styling artist in New York City. And how he had ended up in a small place like Stuttgart. He admitted that he really struggled to connect with the always fast-paced, efficient and often brisk Germans.

We did not talk one word about beauty products or sales.

The ‘five minutes’ turned into twenty minutes and I left with straight smooth hair and a really big smile on my face. “Thank you for this treat”, I said as I walked out the booth. “No, thank you”, the guy replied. “I wanted to do your hair, but I got something much better: A real conversation with a nice person. You truly made my day.”

It doesn’t take much to change someone’s day for the better.
Little gestures, a few words – that’s all it takes to make someone feel welcome. You’re no longer a stranger. You belong.  
Why don’t we do it more often?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

It’s Different Than You Think

Since I have lived in many different places, it happened quite a few times that people have asked me which of my homes is the best.
How can I even compare them? Each country and culture is so unique, all of them have their strengths and challenges, none is superior to the other.

“There is no better or worse. There is just different. In the most wonderful way.”

Every day we are surrounded by all kinds of people.
If I just glance around the people walking on the street, the students in my classroom, the friends I hang out with – I see diversity.
Our social media channels and political conversations are full of debates on how to create community in our diversity. There are too many voices that say some are better than others, there are too many boxes we sort each other in, there is too deep fear of the other that ultimately separates us from ourselves.

But what if we changed perspective for a moment?
What if we saw the people around us not as “the other”, but as mirrors of ourselves? What if we gave them the chance to reveal a little more to us about the world and what it means to be human?
What if we allowed each other to share a glimpse of the eternal together?

If we look closer, we are more connected than we think.
We are unique in our lives, characters and talents.
Each of our stories deserves to be told and heard.

There’s no better or worse.
We’re just different.
In the most wonderful way.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
Cover Photo: Pujohn Das on Unsplash

Is This My Life?

Get up.
Go to work. Teach class after class. Talk to students. Discuss with colleagues.
Go home. Quickly eat something. Grade papers or prepare for the next classes.
Look at all the emails and feel slightly under pressure: When should I do all that?
Fall into bed exhausted.

That’s what my life was like in the last few weeks.
Busy, exhausting, draining.
There’s a routine and I have no choice but to run with it.
So I functioned, but I haven’t really lived.

No matter how long we’ve been on this faith journey, it’s very easy to fall into a routine. Pray.
Go to church.
Say the right things at the right time.
Stay away from all the wrong things and people.
Keep up the facade of the perfect little Christian.
We look good, we function, but we aren’t actually thriving.

I have come to give them life. Life in abundance.

That’s what I cling to in weeks of stress and exhaustion and dullness.
Yes, our lives should have some sort of security and regularity, but it should never pen us in.
There has to be a place where we can be ourselves.
There always has to be space for spontaneity and an element of surprise.
There should always be time to dream.
There should always be time to do nothing at all and rest for a while.
There must always be time to live, live to the fullest.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.