The Sound of Silence

What sound does silence make?
When the noise of life suddenly stops?
When busyness comes to a halt?
When the voices of “you have to, you should, why don’t you” die down until they’re nothing more than a faraway echo?
The steady movement of my torso, lifting with the inhale, falling down with the exhale.
The distant sounds of the life surrounding me.
Trains rattling.
Cars stopping and starting.
The melody of nature.
The wind blowing softly.
Leaves falling to the ground.
The inner battle raging inside of me.
Can I really rest now?
What about all that work waiting for me?
The nagging questions, the uncomfortable feeling of waiting.
The loss of comprehension, fading into quiet surrender.
That soft whisper.
Let it wait.
Let it go.
For now, stay right here.

Welcome to the silence. What can you hear?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

What’s Your Story?

“So…where are you from?”

Last night I was at a gathering for young business leaders and people who want to make an impact on society. As we got to know each other over cheese fondue, we asked all the ‘normal’ small talk questions.
And there it was again.
The harmless inquiry on my biography that makes my insides curl up and my words tangle up in my mouth. 

Where do I even begin?

As TCKs we are well acquainted with these awkward questions on where we’re from or what we call home. When we don’t have an easy answer straight away we’re often faced with blank stares or even more questions.

So I crafted different versions of my story: the short version for superficial chats, the long version for someone who’s really interested.
I tend to leave parts out which might only bore the others, I rather zoom in on the good parts, the stories that make you laugh or wonder.

Don’t we all find ourselves in such places at times?

Our life stories are supposed to look perfect. We brush them up with Instagram filters and hide the parts we’d rather not make public. We’re all about sharing – even if we actually just share parts of it. 

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I sometimes wonder if we don’t miss out on a lot of great things by editing our life stories.
We show ourselves, but only parts of us.
What if we revealed something else?
What if we gave someone the gift of the unedited, raw pieces of our lives?
What if we unveiled the dark spots in our story – the doubts, the unanswered questions, the experiences that don’t make sense?
What if we added a bit more color to the otherwise perfect picture?

Our stories are the greatest gift we have.
When we share from ourselves we invite someone else to get to know us, the real us.
We actually get to know and love ourselves more by embracing our own stories, all of it.
And we allow the Lord to reveal a bit more of himself in our broken narratives.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

It’s Here! It’s Here! [plus a Giveaway!]

It’s Friday and we gather at Five Minute Friday to write about neighbors today. This week has been crazy for so many people around the world, but it has also been an amazing example of the love human beings are capable of.

It’s also September 1, and this means it’s time for the post below. This has been two years in the making and with a lot of supporting friends and neighbors it has now come into reality. I hope you join me for the celebrations!


The last few months have been a whirlwind of emotions.
There was excitement – very quiet at first because I had to keep it all a secret.
There was exhaustion – so much to prepare and so little time.
There were aha-moments – so many new things and techniques to learn.
There were doubts, oh yes – inner voices wondering whether I’m doing the right thing and whether this would all work out.

I started writing Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott two years ago when my faith journey seemed more like a walk through the desert and my beliefs were uncertain and shaky. This is when God stepped in and turned around my understanding of him, myself and the world. He opened my eyes for his doings in unexpected places and his presence in mundane activities.
The more I began looking for him the more my perspective changed. I had to, I just had to, write down the stories where I had met God in my journey of life. So I collected stories, thoughts, emotions and decided to share them with friends.
With some encouragement and a lot of God’s grace, these stories have turned into a book.

Today, there is a new emotion.
Today, there’s joy.
Pure, unclouded, sheer joy.

Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott releases today!
It is officially available everywhere!

If you’re struggling to see God in your busy life, if church traditions have become empty forms for you, if you want to add new ideas to your faith life – I hope you consider buying the book for yourself or to give it to someone who might enjoy reading it. You can buy the book here.

I’m over the moon to see my words on actual paper with my actual name on it and I’m so glad for all the friends, family and blog readers who have encouraged and cheered me on in this process. From the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU!

To celebrate the release of Fliege ins Leben, I want to share my joy with you.

GIVEAWAY

Update: The giveaway is now closed.
The lucky winners are Tabita Steegen and Markus Völlm. Congratulations!

I have five copies of Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott to give away for free! Just follow the instructions below and you might be one of the lucky winners.

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How can I win a copy? 
That’s easy. Just follow this blog (via WordPress or via email, buttons are on the top right), and share this post on your social media platforms. Use #fliegeinsleben as a hashtag, if possible. Then come back here and tell me in the comments: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blog… each share makes an entry in the giveaway, so the more you share the more likely you’ll win!
Winners will be drawn on September 8 and posted here. So come back to find out if you won!
Please note: This book is in German, sorry to all my dear English-speaking readers!

Die vergangenen paar Monate waren ein Wirbelsturm an Emotionen.
Es gab viel Aufregung – wenn zuerst auch recht leise, da ich alles geheim halten musste.
Es gab viel Erschöpfung – so viel vorzubereiten und so wenig Zeit.
Es gab Aha-Momente – so viele neue Dinge und Techniken, die ich lernen durfte.
Es gab Zweifel, oh ja – diese inneren Stimmen, die mich fragen, ob ich das richtige tue und am Ende alles gut wird.

Vor zwei Jahren habe ich begonnen, Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott zu schreiben, als mir meine Glaubensreise eher wie eine Wanderung durch die Wüste erschien und meine Überzeugungen alles andere als standhaft waren. In dieser Zeit kam Gott und hat mein Verständnis von ihm, mir selbst und der Welt umgekrempelt. Er hat mir die Augen geöffnet für das, was er an unerwarteten Orten tut und mir seine Gegenwart in meinem gewöhnlichen Alltag gezeigt.
Je mehr ich nach ihm Ausschau hielt, desto mehr hat sich meine Perspektive verändert. Ich musste, ich musste einfach, die Geschichten aufschreiben, wie Gott mir auf meiner Lebensreise begegnet. Also habe ich Geschichten, Gedanken und Emotionen gesammelt und sie mit ein paar Freunden geteilt.
Mit ihrer Ermutigung und viel von Gottes Gnade sind diese Geschichten nun zu einem Buch geworden.

Heute ist da ein neues Gefühl.
Heute ist da Freude.
Pure, ungetrübte, tiefe Freude.

Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott erscheint heute! 
Es ist überall offiziell erhältlich! 

Wenn du dich schwertust, Gott in deinem vollen Leben zu sehen, wenn Kirchentraditionen leere Formen für dich geworden sind, wenn du etwas Neues in deinem Glaubensleben suchst – dann hoffe ich, dass du das Buch für dich selbst kaufst oder jemandem schenkst, der es vielleicht gerne lesen würde. Du kannst es hier kaufen.

Ich freue mich wahnsinnig, meine Worte auf wirklichem Papier mit meinem Namen zu sehen und ich bin dankbar für alle Freunde, Familie und Blog Leser, die mich in dem Prozess begleitet und ermutigt haben. Aus tiefstem Herzen: DANKE!

Zur Feier dieses Tages möchte ich meine Freude mit euch teilen.

GEWINNSPIEL

Ich verlose fünf Exemplare von Fliege ins Leben, lande bei Gott! Folge einfach den Anweisungen weiter unten und vielleicht bist du einer der glücklichen Gewinner.

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Wie kann ich gewinnen? 

Das ist einfach. Folge diesem Blog (entweder per Mail oder WordPress, die Buttons findest du rechts oben) und teile diesen Post auf deinen Social Media Plattformen. Nutze dafür das Hashtag #fliegeinsleben. Dann komm zurück und erzähl mir davon in den Kommentaren: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blog…jedes share ist eine Gewinnchance. Das heißt, je mehr du teilst, desto höher sind deine Chancen!
Die Gewinner werden am 8. September gezogen und hier veröffentlicht. 

 

A Matter of Perspective

What do you see when you look at the world? 

Charlottesville.
Barcelona.
Dead people.
Injuries.

What a week.

What do you see when you look at your world? 

Friends struggling in their jobs.
Broken relationships.
Unanswered questions.
Doubts about the book you’re about to release.

What a life.

It’s so easy to fall into this hole of sadness and despair and helplessness.
It’s tempting to just give in to all this darkness around us.
It’s dangerous to believe the narrative of lies and deceit that settles in our hearts so easily.

In times like these I have to remind myself that there is another perspective out there. 
There is beauty despite all the busyness and chaos.
There is resurrection in unexpected places.
There is peace even here, in the middle of the storm.
There is human connection and love, poured out in the midst of terror and suffering.
There is divine hope that is stronger than any kind of hatred and destruction.

There is courage to speak up and tell the truth when those in power do not. 
Truth that drives out the darkness inside of us and inside this world. 

What do you see when you look at the world?

In case you’re tired of all the bad news, flood your inbox with good news like here or here.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

I Need Your Help.

The last few weeks have been a little crazy.
In the midst of the typical end-of-year stress at school I’m working on the last edits of the book and putting together a whole lot of fun stuff for my readers.

This is my first time doing this and many times I am overwhelmed with everything I have to think of. Launching a book is definitely hard work!
Therefore, I’m beyond grateful for all the wonderful feedback I’ve already gotten for my book. So many unexpected messages, words of encouragements, questions… they are what keep me going! Thank you!

As we’re gearing up for the launch on September 1, I need your help.
This journey has taken me about two years and I am so close to the finish line. And YOU can be a part of it!

Here are three things you can do for this launch that will make this writer really happy.

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1. Pre-order the book!
Why? Booksellers and publishers watch pre-orders as an indicator for how many books they will have to purchase to stock shelves in the future. The higher the number of pre-orders, the more successful a book often launches. And it means a great deal to the authors. You can order the book here.

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2. Tell your friends about the book!
It’s as easy as clicking the “share” button next to my posts. The more people know, the better.

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3. Buy the book when it releases!
Give it to someone as a birthday/anniversary/Christmas gift.

Thank you for being on this journey with me!


HILFE! Ich bin mehr als dankbar für all das wunderbare Feeback, was ich bereits für mein Buch bekommen habe. Bald erscheint es und deshalb brauche ich deine Hilfe. Heute auf dem Blog erzähle ich dir drei Dinge, die du tun kannst, um mir eine riesen Freude zu machen.

1. Bestell das Buch vor!
Eine hohe Zahl an Vorstellungen ist ein guter Hinweis für den Erfolg eines Buches. Hier kannst du es bestellen.

2. Erzähl deinen Freunden von dem Buch!
Drück einfach auf den “teilen” Knopf neben/unter meinen Posts. Je mehr davon wissen, desto besser.

3. Kauf das Buch, wenn es erscheint!
Oder schenk es jemandem zum Geburtstag/ Jahrestag/ Weihnachten.

Danke, dass du mit auf dieser Reise bist!

A Break in Paradise [Philippines #3]

Episode 3. El Nido.

If you don’t have time to travel by shop from island to island (there are more than 7,000 in case you were wondering), it’s the easiest way to take a plane. So we fly to Puerto Princesa, the capital of the long and slim island Palawan, where we’ll spend the next part of our trip.

Luckily, we catch a bus right away, with AC and comfortable seats. Even the music is different – for a while we get to listen to Filipino hiphop before it goes back to the all-too-familiar soft pop. The guy behind me sings along loudly whenever he knows a song. And he knows a lot. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a conversation, just break into song. If you don’t hit the tune – no problem, you just have to be loud.

The bus takes the only road available going North, through rice fields, palm trees and banana plantations. Everything is so green and so much more bearable than the noisy, busy city. It’s quite similar to the landscapes we used to roam in Uganda as kids. On and on we go and the longer we drive, the more it feels like a journey into a far away world, deep into the jungle.

Out of a sudden, the skies turn grey, then black and heavy raindrops hit the bus windows. The heavens open up to release a long awaited downpour and engulf everyone and everything outside. On the lonely road we see a group of school children, their uniforms soaking wet, their hair dripping with water. They sit down, two in one seat. They smile at me shyly when they realize that I’m a foreigner. Somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, we drop them off and I wonder how in the world they get to school everyday. It’s a long way and probably expensive to get an education. In fact, many parents choose to not send their kids to school because it’s far more lucrative to let them work on the streets. Whenever a car stops at the traffic lights, you can see them coming up to you, their mouths covered to protect themselves from smog and pollution, their tiny hands holding up bottles of water or snacks. They look at you for a while, their eyes desperate and pleading, but eventually they move on. While my students in Germany are so self-righteous that it makes me sick sometimes, children over here seem to be kept from having a perspective in life at all.

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We get into El Nido at sunset and have to find a hotel. What used to be a small idyllic fishermen’s village a couple of years ago has now exploded into a flourishing tourist attraction. The hotel we find is right at the beach in Hama Street – the place to be where hotel is next to bar next to restaurant next to coffee shop. I’m blown away to see people from all across the globe in this little place.

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This town seems to attract a certain kind of people. If you’re a free spirit, interested in cheap parties, sex and drugs, El Nido is the place for you. The restaurants are full with elderly hippie couples with grey hair and blurred tattoos. In the coffee shops you’ll find the hipsters staring at their phones. In between are families and well-built divers.

The first day is very rainy and we spend it walking from coffee shop to restaurant to bar. It’s actually nice to bury my face in a good book for a change, but I’m also a little worried that the weather will not get better.

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The Art Café – a restaurant/bar/coffee shop run by a Swiss lady with delicious food and a great atmosphere. We spent all our mornings on its beautiful balcony with a gorgeous view of the Bay.

But when we wake up the next morning, I look out the window expectantly and – what a joy – there’s a blue sky, no clouds and the sun is shining brightly. After breakfast we meet our tour guide Lorenzo and he takes us on a tour through the Bacuit Archipelago – a group of islands in the South Chinese Sea.

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As we stretch our legs on the boat, we pass by hidden beaches with little cottages under palm trees.
We marvel at rocks in the water. Over and over again, we have to grin at each other because this can.not.be real.
We go anchor in front of a wall of rocks, take the kayak and discover a secret lagoon through a little rift in the wall. All of a sudden it’s so calm. An oasis of quiet and peace.
We go snorkeling, which is quite something for someone who’s shy of water. The view below the surface is quite different – colorful corals, fish swarms, even turtles. Sometimes it’s worth to look deeper.


We have lunch at Entalula Island, a small beach with crystal clear water. The buffet looks like a feast with grilled fish, vegetables and fresh fruits. Afterwards we lie down on the boat and let the sun kiss our bodies. Yes, life is good.

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We kayak into Cathedral Cove, a large opening in a rock. Inside it’s dark and we can hear bats flying high above us.

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Our last stop on this perfect day is a small beach with palm trees and warm water where we take a few minutes to relax. When we get back to the boat, our friend steps into something. At first, he thinks it was a sharp coral, but by the time we get back to the harbor, his right foot has swollen to double its normal size and he can’t walk more than a few steps. The doctor says it’s nothing serious and that he should ake it slow for a few weeks, but on google we find a few horror stories about starfish and other dangerous creatures of the sea. “That’s some serious shit”, the diving instructor says when we tell him the story.

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This has truly been a once in a lifetime experience.
The next morning we leave El Nido with a swollen foot, but with extremly full and grateful hearts.


This is part 3 of the series. Here or here are more stories!

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.