[Five Minute Friday] Nothing

There I was, sitting on the floor in an empty room.
Shocked by myself.
I didn’t even know myself anymore.
I had just walked out on a crowd of people.
I could not bear the happiness anymore. All I felt was hatred, exhaustion, and such heaviness.
I had to leave.
After months and months of giving and pouring into people, events, schedules – I had nothing left to give.
I peered into this nothingness and knew I would have a long journey ahead of me.

Sometimes it might be necessary for us to hit rock bottom.
To realize our empty hands and even more, our thirsty, exhausted hearts.
To give in to our need to be filled first, to receive so that we can pass it on to others.
To discover again that there’s something there.
Something we’re passionate about, something we’ve learned and others can learn it from us.
Something that doesn’t drive us away from people, but actually right to where they are.

But it doesn’t come right away.
It takes time to walk through this nothingness, to process this feeling of emptiness.
And to get to the place, this fountain of life and abundance, ready to fill our empty souls and hands again with more than we can ever imagine or ask for.

One prompt. Write for five minutes flat and link up with fellow writers over at Lisa Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday!

[Five Minute Friday] Friend

This week’s prompt comes in handy, since I’ve been meaning to write on this anyway.
This post goes out to the wonderful people who have been such a blessing to me in the last few months!  I hope that everyone has such friends or can be one to someone else.

The last few weeks, well actually months, have just been crazy.
Caught between writing my MA thesis, preparing for state board exams, organizing a Europe-wide youth congress, trying to keep up with my different lives all across the globe…life has just been a bit too much.

In times like these you find yourself asking the really tough questions.
You find yourself all alone and wonder if you have any friends at all. After years and years of pouring into and giving to friends – where are these people now? When you’re tired of giving, is there someone who gives to you?

I was between feelings of rage and anger towards friends who probably had no idea how I felt. I wanted people to show up and tell me they care. Tell me that they didn’t expect anything from me except ME.
But then again, I also just wanted to be alone since I didn’t want to burden anyone with my messy self. I felt too embarassed to let anyone into my apartment that looked like a construction site.

These last few week, well actually months, have taught me quite a bit about friends.
I had to let go of some old ties and expectations people would never fulfill.
Don’t chase the appreciation of the wrong people, while you might miss out on all the wonderful people along the way.

Cherish those precious little moments where a friend comes through for you.
When you’re allowed to speak your mind, without any make-up on, in your worst clothes (because you have no energy to do laundry).
When a friend is honest with you and tells you to seriously slow down. To escape from mind traps you’ve set for yourself about having to be busy 24-7.
When a friend doesn’t mind the chaos in your appartment, but comes over for dinner and a massage. When other friends cook for you and distract you with a night of laughter.
When someone doesn’t mind you tears of desperation, but simply comforts you with a hug.
When you can unite in prayers via skype and find comfort in the common bond in Christ, no matter how many miles might separate you.

Hey friend, thank you. Thanks for being you and for allowing me to be me.

After a short Easter break, I am back on Five Minute Friday – go to Lisa-Jo Baker‘s page to read more encouraging stories!


The attentive readers might have realized that I added a new label on the right: saudade.
It is a Portugese word and describes a feeling that many TCKs might know all too well.
Its definition says that it is a

a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.” – In Portugal of 1912, A. F. G. Bell

This feeling of longing for a past home, lost friends or memories of a childhood in a beautiful far-away country can be painful at times, yet so comforting as well.
Ever since I started researching and writing my MA thesis on the topic of nostalgia (the English semi-version of saudade, even though it might not capture the whole meaning) I detect notions of it in myself. Blame it on the TCK past/present/future or the weather or whatever.

My question still remains how I can deal with this aching feeling and longing I have inside of me. Giving in too much doesn’t do any good; it might even hold you back from moving on into the future. Forgetting the past alltogether cannot be the solution either.
How can we remember well, in an uplifting yet not self-destructive way?

I can’t provide a perfect answer, I just wanted to throw some thoughts out and see what y’all come up with.
Do you know the feeling of saudade? What are you most nostalgic about? And how do you deal with it?

One thing I can definitely recommend is a blog I recently discovered. Written by a woman who lived in all kinds of places, raised TCKs, and manages to reflect about her experiences in a great way. She wrote about Saudade, but also other topics. Go check it out!

Aufmerksame Leser haben vielleicht bemerkt, dass ich ein neues Label auf der rechten Seite hinzugefügt habe: saudade. 
Das ist ein portugiesisches Wort und beschreibt ein Gefühl, dass viele TCKs wohl gut kennen. 
Die Definition sagt, es ist 

“ein unbestimmtes und dauerhaftes Verlangen nach etwas, das nicht existieren kann und wird, nach etwas anderem als der Gegenwart; eine Hinwendung zur Vergangenheit oder zur Zukunft; keine aktive Unzufriedenheit oder direkte Traurigkeit, aber doch ein träger, verträumter Wehmut.” (übersetzt aus Portugal 1912, A.F.G.Bell)

Dieses Gefühl des Verlanges nach einem alten Zuhause, verloren geganenen Freunden oder Erinnerungen an eine Kindheit in einem schönen Land weit weg, kann machmal schmerzhaft sein, aber doch so tröstlich zur selben Zeit. 
Seitdem ich angefangen habe zu recherchieren und zu schreiben für meine MA Arbeit zum Thema Nostalgie (die dt. Übersetzung von saudade, die aber nur teilweise die gleiche Bedeutung hat), finde ich vieles davon in mir selbst wieder. Vielleicht ist die TCK Vergangenheit/Gegenwart/Zukunft daran schuld, oder das Wetter oder was auch immer.

Meine Frage ist, wie man mit diesem Gefühl in sich umgehen kann. Wenn man ihm zu sehr nachgibt, tut das nicht gut; es kann sogar davon abhalten, vorwärts zu gehen. Die Vergangenheit komplett zu vergessen, kann aber auch nicht die Lösung sein. 
Wie können wir uns richtig erinnern, in einer guten, aufbauenden und nicht selbstzerstörerischen Art und Weise?

Ich kann keine perfekte Antwort bieten, ich wollte einfach ein paar Gedanken loswerden. Kennst du das Gefühl von Saudade? Worüber bist du am meisten nostalgisch? Und wie gehst du damit um? 
Was ich auf jeden Fall empfehlen kann ist: ein Blog, den ich vor kurzem entdeckt habe. Von einer Frau geschrieben, die schon überall gewohnt hat, TCKs erzogen hat und es schafft, in guter Weise ihre Erfahrungen zu reflektieren. Sie hat auch über Saudade geschrieben und vieles mehr. Schaut mal vorbei!

[Five Minute Friday] Garden

This week’s prompt is a bit of a challenge; I might have to start off with a confession: I am not a garden person. Every plant I ever had died sooner or later, since I forgot to water them, take care of them or didn’t realize what they needed.

Given this lack of gardening skills I am not sure I’ll have a garden later on.
Even though I’d want to.
Gardens are beautiful places.
Of rest.
Of amazement.
Of richness.
Of teaching.

I cannot help letting my mind wander off to the garden we had in Uganda.
A house surrounded by huge mango trees and casava plants. In between you’d also find a few passion fruit trees finding their way along house walls or other trees. And little islands with the most amazing and diverse flowers I had ever seen. I am really bad with names, but their colors were so bright, their shapes were so extraordinary. What a place to just lie in the grass and let your thoughts wander. Take a nap, while the sun warms your face.
This garden is a symbol for a few happy and carefree childhood days.

I go further to the garden we had around our farm in South Africa.
Peach and lemon trees stood around the little swimming pool, which provided a welcome refreshment on hot summer days. We spent countless hours taking the kids into the water, teaching them how to swim and having fun. I spent quite a few mornings there, with my guitar and my bible, to meet the Lord, to hear from him. My team leader would say this garden is her little piece of paradise where God would just speak.
This garden was a place for rest, for meeting the Lord. For letting him teach me about himself and the beautiful creation he has put me in.

In gardens we can see HIM at work. In the seeds that are planted and need a while to grow. In the little plants that slowly grow bigger and reveal their rich colors. In plants dying and finishing the cycle of life. And in the hands of a skilled gardener who tends to his plants, who prunes them so they can continue to grow, become stronger, and shine for their creator.

Aren’t we also a bit like that? And do we allow the master gardener to fulfill his work in us?

This prompt was given by Lisa-Jo Baker on her amazing blog. She also has a great garden project coming up in South Africa- you should check it out!

[Five Minute Friday] Visit

Ever since the travel bug got to me many years ago, I have an urge to travel. To see new places, experience the smell of other countries, the rhythm of a new city, the breath taking scenery of a new landscape.

But more than that I want to visit people.
To see the way they live, eat at their favorite restaurant, dance to their favorite tune, take a tour at night around their favorite places in town.
To sit for hours and hours, with not much more than a cup of coffee, just talking about the ups and downs of life.
Sharing lives and sharing hearts.

I’ve had a few of such visits, and most of them were unplanned. No month-long planning, no detailed schedule. Just a bit of time. If you give time to a person, you are always in for a treat full of blessings. Always.

And yet, I am still here. Alone. What’s holding me back?
Well, there’s distance. Many dear friends live everywhere but close. A visit would take one or more plane rides. And a bit of a vacation.
And there’s money.

But, honestly, most of the time, it is plain laziness.
Or busyness. Or a lack of trust. Call it what you want.
Sometimes I discover myself not trusting a friendship enough.
Not trusting a surprise visit would be appreciated.
Not trusting I would be thrilled to see a friend simply showing up and “messing” with my packed schedule.
Not trusting that we should be just as fine seeing each other instead of typing our lives and thoughts.
Or not trusting I will finish the work load in front of me if I take a weekend off to spend with a friend.

Well, away with these thoughts!
Here’s to a bit more trust.
A bit more spontaneity and less planning.
A bit more friendship.
And hopefully, a bit (or a lot!) more visiting.

How about visiting Lisa Jo Baker‘s blog for more interesting thoughts?

[Lost and Refound] Forgotten Blessing/ Vergessener Segen

The other day I took a trip down memory lane, not really intended but absolutely worth while.
I was looking for something on my hard drive and stumbled across some old pictures and videos from the year I had worked in South Africa.

My sense of time didn’t matter anymore; I just lost myself in memories of rich landscapes, beautiful faces of beloved friends and vivid accounts of all the experiences we had together.
There was a lot of travelling, seeing places in the world that took your breath away.
There were so many encounters with people you cannot forget.
There were so many challenges you thought were overwhelming at first; yet, they only made you stronger in the end.
There was laughter, craziness, joy, silence, understanding.

Some pictures made me sigh. Some pictures made me cry because I just missed everyone and everything so badly. But most of the pictures and videos made me laugh out loud and smile all over my face. And made me think: We have been crazy blessed! What a privilege to experience the best and the worst of life together with such amazing people; to fall and to grow together, to laugh and to cry, to dream and to love – and to share a past together no one can ever take away from us.

Don’t we ever forget these memories. Don’t we ever forget how the father pours blessing over blessing into our lives, whether we see it or not. It might take a while to dig them up, but blessings are there and our hands are fuller than we think.

Vor ein paar Tagen habe ich ein bisschen in meiner Erinnerung gestöbert, unabsichtlich aber so wertvoll!
Ich habe auf meiner Festplatte etwas gesucht und bin dabei auf alte Bilder und Videos gestoßen von dem Jahr, das ich in Südafrika verbracht habe. 

Ich habe meinen Sinn für Zeit völlig verloren, weil ich so in Erinnerung versunken bin an reiche Landschaften, wunderschöne Gesichter geliebter Menschen und lebhafte Bilder all der Erfahrungen, die wir zusammen gemacht haben. 
So viel Reisen und Orte sehen, die einfach atemberaubend sind.
So viele Begegnungen mit Menschen, die man nicht vergessen kann.
So viele Herausforderungen die zuerst überwältigend schienen, am Ende aber nur stärker machten. 
So viel Lachen, Verrücktsein, Freude, Schweigen, Verstehen.

Einige Bilder haben mich nachdenklich gemacht. Einige haben mich zum Weinen gebracht, weil ich alles und alle plötzlich vermisst habe. Aber die meisten Bilder und Videos haben mich laut lachen lassen und ich musste übers ganze Gesicht lachen. Und denken: Wie mega gesegnet sind wir! Was für ein Privileg, die besten und härtesten Zeiten des Lebens gemeinsam zu verbringen; zu fallen und gemeinsam zu wachsen, zu lachen und zu weinen, zu träumen und zu lieben – und eine Vergangenheit zu haben, die uns keiner nehmen kann. 

Diese Erinnerungen dürfen wir nicht vergessen. Wir dürfen nicht vergessen, dass der Vater Segen um Segen in unser Leben hineinlegt, ob wir es sehen oder nicht. Es dauert vielleicht ein bisschen, bis wir sie ihn ausgegraben haben, aber Segen ist da und unsere Hände sind voller als wir denken. 

[Five Minute Friday] Fly

This post could go on for ages because I love to fly.
Not always the sitting in a tiny seat for a long time. Not always wailing babies who would not stop crying on a night flight. Not always the pressure on my ears while landing.

Still I love to fly.
I love the thrill I get when I only pass an airport on the highway.
I love the excitement everytime I can book a plane ticket.
I love this great opportunity to visit the most amazing places on earth and meet fascinating people, all by getting on a flying bird for a few hours.

There is a TCK saying: You know you’re a TCK when you were on an airplane before you could walk.
So it seems the “flying gene” is just within us, and all we can do is fight it or just travel, travel, travel. If you know me you also know that I always choose travelling. 🙂
And I am deeply thankful for all the beautiful places these planes have taken me to – these travels have made me who I am, shaped my behavior, my values and gave me a heart wide open to the world and its children.

Only about sixty years ago flying was not an option for people who wanted to go far.
They had to take ships, trains, or cars. It took a lot of time and was often exhausting, but it gave them time to reflect, leave the old world behind and prepare themselves for entering a new one.
With planes we can cross countries and continents within a day, distance is not an obstacle anymore – but does our soul have enough time to come along as well?
Because the soul is what makes traveling so rich and exciting, and it is our soul we’ll miss the most if we leave it somewhere along the way.

It’s Friday with Lisa Jo Baker – go check it out!

[Five Minute Friday] Tree

I bet a lot of posts today will link the word “tree” with some sort of memory. How is that?
Trees seem to be a symbol for memories, mostly from childhood. They represent safety, comfort, a feeling of home.

There was only one time in my life that I actually lived in a house with a garden.
In Uganda we had a huge compound where the entire team lived, plus a few chicken, a dog and several cats. And a lot of insects and bugs…:)
The garden was beautiful, we had all kinds of flowers in all kinds of colors and shapes; never again have I seen such a diversity of flowers. And we had trees – bananas, casava, pawpaw, nuts, and mango. This one mango tree was the largest in the area and it will always be in my mind as the image of the garden. And the amazing mangos we got from it, so delicious!

I have no idea how old this tree is, but I am sure it would have a lot of stories to tell. Of all the different white people who came to the Ugandan bush, of how they struggled with homesickness, of how they settled into life and rejoiced over every saved life. Of how children grew up under the tree, played in the garden and enjoyed the abundance of God’s creation.

O sweet memories – and all of this because a tree? Well, sometimes it just takes this one word to get you going.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on the prompt word “tree” head over to Lisa Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday!

[Five Minute Friday] Together

A normal person can call one specific place home, can name five or more friends they know since childhood, they know their little towns in and out. They belong. Even if they leave this place they just have to return home to be with people and places again. To be together.
Well, I guess I am not normal. If you ask me where home is it might take a while to explain. The places I am familiar with include the comfort of airports, the African red soil under your feet, the rain on iron sheet roofs. I can’t give you a name of my best friend, since they might change quickly. Friends are categorized by continent, country, period of my life we have spent together.
We were together then, but we are no longer now. We might be together now, but who knows where life takes me next? I can’t say.
What I can say is this: Even though we aren’t together I often wish we were. So badly that it hurts physically. No skype call (even video) can compete with a real hug, lying on the floor laughing so hard your tummy hurts, tasting new food, being still together. Technology brings you close, but not together.
While you and I move on with our lives, each in different parts of the world, meeting new people, places and challenges, we can miss and pray for each other.
This spiritual connection is such a sweet blessing to every friendship; it encourages and keeps alive the hope that we will be together again – at a place where continents, distance and skype calls don’t exist. Soon.
What a great word at Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday today! Much love to all readers and my dear, dear friends around the world.

[Five Minute Friday] Laundry

Laundry. Making dirty things look shiny again. Water. Soap.
Open the flap, put in your clothes and soap, close the flap.
Press the button.
Come back an hour later and your clothes are clean.

I guess this is how most of us do laundry.
Maybe once a week, maybe heaps of it if you have a big family.
Maybe the result is not always pleasing because you have not figured out the “separate your colors” rule yet.
This is laundry in Europe, the US or any other Western country.

But I remember a cooler, social way of doing laundry.
My childhood/teenage memories are filled with images of big pots of hot water, boiling underwear on a charcoal stove, women bending down for several hours, washing heaps of clothes by hand.
This is laundry the Ugandan style.

I remember the girl who used to help us with laundry and other things. Whenever we had a break in our home school rhythm we would sit with her, see how she washes the clothes and gave her a hand. While we rubbed the dirty pieces of clothes against each other, we would chat, exchange the latest news, laugh about the German-African differences, but also share family troubles or just life problems.
Doing laundry was not only about cleaning clothes, but also washing your heart and soul, getting rid of the week’s dirt and baggage.

How come that we do laundry so often, but don’t really take stock of our “emotional laundry”? Might be  refreshing, healing, cleansing once in a while.

It’s Friday- over at Lisa Jo Baker you will find a lot more stories on Laundry today!