How to Navigate Rough Waters

“You know what I’d like to do right now? Go and have a coffee.” My friend had just arrived to spend the weekend with me. The official reason is a photo exhibition she’s about to open here – but it was an added bonus to have a few days together without her kids or my pressing work schedule. So we went for coffee and a second breakfast in the middle of the day.

As we indulged ourselves in pancakes and extra large coffee mugs, we updated each other on what had happened in our worlds since the last time we had talked. We shared news of friends who were struggling at work, relationships that were breaking apart, and the feeling of helplessness on the outside.
We sat there wondering, our hearts aching for all the dear people who worked so hard and saw their lives falling apart nevertheless.

I guess we’re less in control of life than we’d like to be. Often it doesn’t take much to lose it and stand in front of broken pieces, dreams, hopes.

When things on the outside start falling apart, we might have to take a closer look at the inside.
What makes life worth living?
What gives our souls its balance and our hearts its stability? 

The more I am caught up in the busyness of the working world, the seeming expectations of others and the impossibility of doing it all, the more I realize that I cannot just brush up the outside. A nice facade will only look nice until the winds of life start crashing against it.
If we want balance in our souls and lives, we need to work on the inside and create some depth that will navigate us safely through the rough waters.

Maybe this Advent season can serve as a reminder to slow down, light a candle and meditate on this simple, and yet so challenging, message.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today. Happy second Advent, y’all!

Have a Little More “Ting” in Your Life

A couple of years ago, John Mark McMillan was asked what his greatest accomplishment was. He said the following:

The thing that brings me the most satisfaction is sitting on my porch with people I love and talk. I can build big organizations and people can know my name – But in the end, none of that stuff feels as good as sitting across a table from somebody, telling a story, laughing a little, crying a little, raising a glass and hearing that little “ting”. All of life is inside that “ting”: fellowship and love and laughter, and you can hear Jesus in that “ting”.

There have been quite a few moments in my life when I just stood there, dumbstruck, wondering at what had just happened.
Two people had just talked, and yet, an ocean of thoughts and beauty and depth had opened up between us.
A bond had been forged, a sense of knowing and being known.
A safety of having your soul held by someone else.

I walked away, deeply satisfied and the sound of “ting” ringing in my ear and heart.

Since I am a reflective person, I often wonder how such encounters come about.
What can we do to have them more often?
Even though I don’t believe that every of our talks has to be super emotional and long, I am convinced that deep conversations which show our raw honest selves are essential for our inner well-being and growth. 

You can’t fabricate depth.
You can’t will yourself into having a deep conversation.
I can’t give you a five-step action plan to create good talks.

I guess it comes down to simplicity.

Going for a walk with a friend.
Sitting down for a meal together.
Inviting others to your table.
Spending time intentionally.
Practicing gratitude together.
Sharing more of your life, your thoughts, your heart.
Simply being yourself and taking off the pressure to perform.

Telling a story, laughing and crying together.
Feeling the soft covers of fellowship embrace us.
Hearing that little “ting” resounding in and around us.

Where can you hear the “ting” in your life today? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

What If?

Sometimes I wonder how stupid we as human beings can be.

In the attempt to understand our world and with our innate desire for everything to make sense, we have simplified so many of life’s big stories and happenings. We have put everything and everyone in boxes, sorted all the world’s mysteries into logical categories.

We seem to have done everything right.
And maybe gotten it all wrong.

What if there is more than one answer to the nagging questions in all of us?
What if issues are more complex than we wish them to be and we need to wrestle with them for days, months, years until we experience a breakthrough?
What if “I don’t know” is actually an honest gift in a conversation?
What if people are more than they let on initially and we actually need to take the time to dig deeper and uncover the treasures inside them?
What if the ‘others’ are more like us than we allow them to be within the walls of our hatred and prejudice?
What if God has more shapes, faces and character traits than we have boxed him in and we have barely scratched the surface of the truly divine?

What if we miss out on so much beauty, color and abundance if we narrow our view to just the one thing?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Close your eyes…

… for a moment and let the week pass in your mind.
What were you working on?
What kept you the busiest?
Who have you met?
What have you talked about? 

I was quite shocked a couple of months ago when a pedagogy professor told me that in their entire school career, students don’t spend more than twenty minutes talking to their teachers outside of class.
Conversations that don’t revolve around grades or the lessons are rare.

And yet they are so needed. 

Every day, every week, we have full schedules that send us all around and keep us busy. At work, with our friends, at home, at church – we always have our role to play, our mask to put on.
We do so much, but when is there time to just be? When can we drop the masks and be ourselves? 

As human beings, we are made for connnection, and yet we take so little time to create and cultivate it.
Those times when we are truly ourselves, when we tear down the walls that life and lies have built around our hearts.
Those talks that make us sigh and breathe deep because something inside us has just been released.
Those moments when we know that there is something bigger and higher that ties us all together inextricably. 

In response, a colleague and I started to offer interviews for our students. A moment when we would meet – no longer teacher and students, just two people – to talk about life outside of school, future plans, netflix shows and hobbies. I was nervous at first because I didn’t know how students would respond to this new form of talking. 

The fifteen minutes time slots we had allocated per interview were almost always exceeded. There was just too much to talk, think and laugh about. I was left wondering, smiling and immensely grateful for the glimpses I was allowed in someone else’s life and sweet moments of connection. 

Create connection today. 

Call a long lost friend.
Take a minute to ask more than the obligatory “How are you?”.
Smile at a stranger.
Be bold and take the first step in sharing something personal. What you’ll get in return will be worth it. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Hidden in the Crowds


On Monday morning at 8 a.m., summer break was over. Six weeks of freedom and rest and quietness had come to an end.

What people outside the teaching profession don’t know: Going back to school after the big break is like turning a switch. Within one minute you go from silence to full-on noise, from solitude to crowded hallways, from rest to total chaos.

One hour in and you feel like the holidays are already light years away.

This week has been hard.
Sore feet, messed up brain, tired soul.
All I could feel, when I feel into bed at night, was exhausted.
That’s not all what I want to feel. This can’t be it.

When we are stressed, we often lose focus and overlook the really important things.

In the midst of our busyness, there are these little moments of joy.
In the hectic of our task-driven lives, there are these beautiful encounters of human connection.
In the sea of faces, there are these special people who stand out in the crowd and surprise you.
Beyond the endless to- do lists there’s the gift of Sabbath and the promise that we are not what we do.

This is it.
This is what I want to learn in this new crazy year ahead of me:
Watch out for the essentials.
Pay attention to what’s hidden in the crowds.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

The Melancholy of ‘Now’

One week of summer break left.
I have a whole week before I go back to school, and yet I already have ‘Sunday melancholy’. That feeling you have on a Sunday night before it’s Monday again and the weekend will be over.
That yearning to stop time and linger in the moment forever.
That nagging thought in the back of my mind if I have spent my time wisely, if I have taken it all in, if I have rested enough, if I’m ready for this new year.
That sensation of excitement for the new year and all its adventures.

“Be still.
Be here.”

We can’t stay in the past or skip ahead to the future; all we have is right now.
And it’s our challenge to be present in the moment, to focus on the now, to not rush by the beauty of today.
But it’s also our greatest gift – Now is where we’ll find God, each other, ourselves. 

I don’t want to rush on ahead
in my own strength
if you’re right here

I’m not in a hurry
when it comes to your spirit
when it comes to your presence
when it comes to your voice

I’m learning to listen
just to rest in your nearness
I’m starting to notice
you are speaking

Will Reagan & Michael Ketterer

Practice being present today.
What are you noticing? 


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.