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.

Human beings cover

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.

Fighting in the Dark

Last week didn’t start off too well.
On Tuesday I had to leave work early because a headache kept bothering me. By the time I made it home, a fever and cough joined in and I came down with the flu. For the last few days, I’ve just been at home in bed.
Being sick is never really beautiful.

Suddenly, I had all this time at my hand, which was kind of confusing at first.
I followed the news about the people suffering in Syria as the war rages on and the world continues watching.
I listened to a teenager explain the political dilemma on gun violence in the US after the Florida shooting.
I read up on ethical fashion and the damage our outrageous materialism does to other people and the ecosystem.
I worried about all the work I couldn’t do now and how much behind that would put me.
I looked out the window into beautiful sunshine, only to remember that I was too sick to go outside.
No, this week was definitely not beautiful.

Depending on our focus, this life can quickly become exhausting and dull and hopeless.
This world can so easily drain life and its sense for beauty.

In weeks like this one, it’s not easy to find beauty, so I have to fight for it even harder. 
I look out for the sunshine and bask in the rays that made it through my window.
I decide not to worry about all the undone work, but instead enjoy the time of rest I have been given.
I dive into a good novel and get lost in the story, simply because I have the time for it.
I appreciate that I don’t have to set any alarm clock but can just sleep however long my body needs to.
I pause and pray and hope for the One who sees it all and creates beauty in the midst of all our mess.

In a world darkened with suffering and pain and confusion, we can need any sense of beauty we can get. So tell me, where have you discovered beauty this week?  


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

I Don’t Deserve This

Mornings at home.
A huge window with a perfect view of the sky.
Warm covers to snuggle in.
Eight hours of peaceful sleep.
A full refrigerator with too many choices of what to eat.
A safe job and friendly colleagues.
No worries about money every month.
Friends who are just a phone call away.
A family that supports and encourages me.
Unexpected coffee dates during the week.
A golden sunset after a long day at work.
Carnival break which starts in a few hours.
A full calendar with plans for the future and lots of things to be excited for.
Free access to education, entertainment and information.
Free thinking and controversial discussions.

I didn’t earn this. Too many people on this planet are not as fortunate and have to suffer from poverty, hunger, lack of education, oppression, slavery.

When I look at just this week, I realize: I’m surrounded by pure grace.
My life is enriched by heavenly gifts.
It’s a privilege and I never want to take it for granted.
Instead, I want to practice gratitude. For everything, in everything.

What can you be grateful for this week?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.