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.

This Is Not What My Life Was Supposed to Be Like (On Turning Thirty)

I turned thirty last week – a time to look back and reflect on the big things in life. 

I distinctly remember the first day at university, when I walked around campus and saw students dipping their feet into the fountains at The Square. They sat together in little groups, laughed about something and obviously enjoyed their life. I was twenty-one and had just moved to the city to open yet another chapter in my life’s story. 

And I remember imagining what the next few years would look like: I would complete my studies quickly and then move abroad for work. I would meet new people and we’d be the best of friends who make embarrassing and beautiful memories that would last forever. I would find a handsome guy and we’d get married until we started our own family around thirty. Together we would roam this planet, always in search of our next adventure. I would say later that my twenties were the best years of my life. 

Fast forward a couple of years.

Even though I was never really sure if I wanted to be a teacher, I discovered that I enjoy teaching very much and I might stay a while. So I still live in Germany, have become a full-fledged teacher and just moved into my first ‘grown-up’ apartment. I own a dishwasher and seem to be really settled.
I have graduated from university with a lot of effort and good grades, but all of this had its price. After my finals I had a burnout because I hadn’t taken care of myself. In times when I needed them the most, I had to say goodbye to a few dear friends and learn that some relationships are not meant to last.
There have been countless weddings I have attended and many happy moments when I rejoiced with friends and their kids, but with the years I couldn’t help but wonder why I am still alone. Nor the fear of always being on my own.
I have walked through the valley with friends and had to let go of seemingly strong foundations. I wrestle with questions and doubts why and how I can live my faith in this complex world.

No, this is not what my life was supposed to be like. 

As I take a walk down memory lane, different images flash before my inner eye. 

The many packed bags and suitcases that carry us from one apartment to the next and accompany us from one continent to a completely different culture. A symbol for the tension of having no real home and longing for the world that’s lingering inside of me. 

The five of us squeezed into too small cars or way too little motorbikes riding through the African jungle. Sleeping in tiny rooms and having improvised breakfasts on hotel beds. The many days and nights when we come together from all over, holding our bellies from laughing so hard and forgetting that we’re all adults by now. No matter how scattered we are: It’s always us five against the world. 

The delayed flight to Johannesburg where my twenty-year old self lives away from my family for the first time. I am culturally challenged, but gain a better understanding of myself as a TCK and my role in this world. 

Sweet memories of late nights with study friends watching movies, cycling around town and discovering what food can do for a person’s soul. 

The tiny bundle of fluff who made me a godmother and grew into such a brave, funny, intelligent boy. I can hear his chuckling laugh long after I have to leave again. 

All those weekends with my TCK family that leave all of us physically exhausted but emotionally filled to the brim. Because it’s exactly this: We have become family; people who share similar experiences and honest questions about home, identity and belonging. 

The breathtaking beauty of canyons, oceans and landscapes in all the countries I was lucky enough to travel. I have swum in all the seven seas, overcame my fear of water to go diving and climbed mountains. I got to live with people from all across the world and discovered that they are the real adventure. 

The first TCK conference I attended completely clueless only to be blessed by people who took me under their wings and taught me about the vastness and beauty of the TCK world. Together we have pulled off quite a few conferences and learned from experts all across Europe. 

What started out as a temporary student job became an unexpected learning experience when I ended up organizing a congress for several thousand people and was surprised how much responsibility people trusted me with. 

I have come to understand the necessity of saying No which enables me to say Yes to the right things and invest my time, thoughts and money into causes that really matter. I learn to treasure the beauty of admitting, “I don’t know.” 

I have learned to take better care of myself and open my eyes for the many blessings already out there. God was and is bigger than my concepts, questions and doubts. When I pay attention to it, I am overwhelmed by mundane gifts and the faithfulness of old companions. 

In times when saying goodbye to friendships and much-loved beliefs became really painful, I discovered writing as a helpful way to reflect and process. Many people blessed me with their encouragement and comments on-and offline, but I never imagined that my writing would end up in a book. 

I sense for the first time what it means to settle down at one place for a while and create a home – a feeling unknown, yes even forbidden, for a TCK. I meet the right people at the right time who challenge me to take risks, to stay and rest, to give something of myself. I can talk to friends who feel the same and we wait in this uncertainty together.

Why do I write these things? I don’t want to brag about myself and everything I have achieved. No, these stories are a reminder for myself to not lament the things I don’t seem to have, but to celebrate that my life has turned out so different from what I imagined it to be all these years ago. 

My life is full.
Full with tasks that challenge and inspire me.
Full with loving, creative and inspiring people who join me along the way and enrich my life with their presence, actions and words. 

My life is deep.
In the midst of my hunger and desires I discover gratitude that brings a new depth to my life. 

My life is rich.
Rich with experiences with and in this world.
Rich with memories of all the necessary steps that have brought me here.
Rich with dreams and excitement for what’s to come. 

My life is a collection of puzzle pieces which challenge me at times, but make everything more colorful, meaningful, beautiful. 

No, this is not what my life was supposed to be like.
But life is good. 

A Summer with No Plans

One and a half weeks until summer break.
While I am really looking forward to six weeks of no schedules, no students and no early mornings, I must admit that I’m also scared.

I’m scared that my to-do list is too full.
I’m worried that I can’t get it all done and will let people down.
I’m afraid that the six weeks will fly by and I’ll have wasted my time with nonsense. 
I need rest so desperately, and yet I somehow don’t know how. 

As I sit down and pour my heart out to you, you take me back to a familiar story.
A tale of two sisters who have a house full of guests and a long list of chores.
While one of them hustles and stresses and runs around, the other one just sits down and listens.

I identify with the hustler and sympathize with the listener, when I hear your voice ringing in my ear and heart:

Don’t do. Just be. 

The truth is so simple.
But sometimes the simple things are the hardest to practice.
I will give it a try this summer.
Thank you.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

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.

Everyday Killers

This space has been empty a few Fridays in a row. I opened Kate’s page early on Friday mornings to check what the prompt was as I usually do. Then I would mull over a few thoughts and start typing.

Not in the last few weeks.

I was just blank. Even after a few hours of thinking and pondering, nothing would come to mind. Nothing. I felt like I had nothing to say. So I left this space blank. Week after week passed, Friday after Friday I grew more frustrated and angrier at myself.
Has inspiration deserted me?
Where has all my creativity wandered off to?

If I compare my soul to a garden, there are different kinds of flowers and plants. Together they make a beautiful diverse image of creation, but each of them needs different care and nurturing.

Inspiration is a very delicate plant in this soul garden. It is planted deep inside everyone of us, but it will only grow depending how we take care of it. It’s so easy for inspiration to be suffocated with the thistles of busyness – a dangerous plant that grows like crazy if we don’t pay attention. It will drain the soil and leave us empty inside. I have been so busy lately with finishing off the school year while launching a book that I was too busy to pay much attention. Busyness had tied me up and I never really had time to stop and rest.

It can be hard to find inspiration in the midst of busyness. That’s why it is imperative to train our eyes to look for it, no matter how many thistles grow in our garden.
I have lost the focus on beauty in the mundane a bit in the last few weeks.
And slowly by slowly, sentiments like frustration and anger have settled in my heart. I snapped at students, I got frustrated with colleagues, I didn’t see the good in others anymore. The bright and colorful garden had turned grey for me because I looked at it through the wrong filter.
Beauty is already here, right here and now. And I need it more than I can imagine.
Only when I am able to admire the wonders around me, only when I allow God to speak to me, I am able to draw from that inspiration deep inside of me and truly create.

While I work in the garden I often get distracted by that voice inside of me.
You’re not good enough.
No one is going to read your words anyway.
Your work has to be perfect.
Far too often I give in to that voice. It’s like someone is slamming on my inner breaks and my hands are tied, I just.can’t.write. Instead of tending to the musings of my soul and responding to the inspiration inside of me, I worry about formats and what others will say about it. I fall for false expectations and am left empty in the end.

Can anyone relate?
What can you find in the garden of your soul?

With summer approaching I want to take better care of my garden and all the different plants in it.
I want to be intentional about resting more.
I want to listen more before I do.
I want to look out for beauty all around me.
I want to protect my inspiration from lies and distractions.
I want to create again.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.