Guest Blog at Communicating Across Boundaries

Today I am guest blogging over at Communicating Across Boundaries, a wonderful blog about the challenges and blessings of living between cultures, people, faiths…
The current series is called “Finding your niche”- how can TCKs use their experiences in their jobs, relationships etc.? Plenty of great people from all over the world in all kinds of wonderful positions have already contributed, and I am honored to be a part of it!

Read more here!

#She Shares Truth- Joshua 1:8&9

Today I am linking up with #She Reads Truth, a community of women reading the bible together. During Lent we medidate on passages and then share our thoughts on them. You can find more thoughts on the project of #She Shares Truth.  
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“This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. 
Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

These powerful verses can be found at the beginning of the book of Joshua. Moses, the great leader of the Israelites through forty years of wandering in the desert, had just died, and now Joshua is the leader.  And just as God had spoken to Moses many years ago to annoint, challenge and encourage him – the same way does God now speak to Joshua. He reminds Joshua of the many times Moses could experience godly provision and divine intervention; whatever promises was true then is true now. 

And God gives him a very simple instruction that will lead to success: medidate on the word of God. Stay with the book of the law. Joshua, the leader who was expected to speak up and guide his people, is now called to meditate in silence. To think things over, to observe and reflect rather than to speak.

Meditating is a piece of work. 
It is so much easier to speak and share and come up with premature conclusions. Oh, there is a time for sharing. There will be a time when we need to speak up and share.
But before that time goes, there is time to medidate.
To observe. To let it sink in.

Joyce Huggett has put it very well when she says that meditation means “to give God’s words the opportunity to penetrate, not just our minds, but our emotions — the places where we hurt — and our will — the place where we make choices and decisions.”

This is not easy. This is a decision we need to make every day.
Do we take some time to spend with the word?
To not just fulfill our duty, but to let it sink in?
Do we let the word of God penetrate the very core of our being? 

Meditation is not in vain. 
I love how God puts a promise for Joshua right after the challenge he has for him. Meditation and observation will lead to wise decisions and success. I am not saying our lives will be problem-free all the time, but having a solid foundation and guideline in the word of God will make many things in life more bearable, enjoyable and purposeful. 

Not all of us might be Joshuas. Not all of us are given the task of conquering an unknown country.
But all of us are called to step up at some point. To take a stand during the day or at some point in our lives. But before we do that we should work below the surface to become “strong, vigorous and VERY courageous” (I love that VERY in verse 9 J).
And we can be sure that just as God promised to be with Joshua on this next part of the journey, he will go with us and will make our foundation we acquired in these quiet moments of meditation prosper. 

[Five Minute Friday] Joy

I am linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker today on Five Minute Friday. Take the prompt, write for five minutes flat. Link up with a community of fellow writers and experience the joy of sharing!
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Today’s prompt JOY is one of my favorite words.
In this case I like the English language because it offers a variety of meanings for this sentiment.
Unlike German (where you only have one word ‘Freude’) in English you have joy and happiness.

And there’s a difference between these two, I believe.

Happiness might refer to this superficial excitement over fresh flowers, a present, or a quick smile for a friend. But as quickly as it comes over us it can also be gone. As quickly as our circumstances can bring happiness, they can also bring unhappiness. Bad weather, a sad phone call, disappointment.

Happiness often seems to be based on what happens.

Joy, on the other hand, goes much deeper.
It is independent from what happens around us.
It is planted deep inside of us, bringing forth light in the darkest hours, strength in weakness and rejoicing in the midst of tears.

Joy is a fruit of the holy spirit, planted inside of us and growing the more we take care of it.
When it is firmly rooted in our hearts no circumstances in the world can steal our joy.

The question is: What are we going for?
Do we strive for quick happiness, these superficial waves that  come and go as quickly as we draw a breath?
Or do we take some time to seek joy, nurture it and experience its fruits especially in times when we need it the most?

[Five Minute Friday] Choose

Some people say we have no choices in life.
Everything is predestined and we just need to surrender to fate.
Some people say we have too many choices, they are overwhelmed by freedom and simply lost the ability to make choices.

I believe we have a lot of choices.
We can decide what we want to wear today.
Whether it’s toast or cereal for breakfast.
We can even decide not to get out of bed all day.
We can choose what career path to follow, who to marry, where to live.

Those are choices on the surface.
They might be most visible to the outside, but do they make up life?
I believe there are choices we need to make deep down, and they will navigate us on the stormy sea of life.

Everyday we hear a million voices, telling us about the world and ourselves.
Countless people seem to know who we are and what we need. The more we listen to one voice the more this truth becomes our own.
But is it who we really are?
It is so easy for lies to take roots in our searching souls, and it is so difficult to pull them out once they’re settled. Nevertheless, for every lie in your heart God has more than one powerful truth for you.
Choose truth. 

Everyday we are facing a tight schedule, an inbox full of emails, the decision what will come first.
Do I clean my house or do I meet a friend?
Do I work all day or do I find some time for a cup of tea?
Do I wake up in the morning and feel overwhelmed already by the business that awaits me during the day, or do I start off the day with seeking my Heavenly Father first, the provider of everything I need today and more?
Choose time. Choose people. Choose the important. 

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It’s Friday again, which mean I join many other amazing people over at Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday. Write for five minutes flat. No editing. Just words. And a great community.

[Five Minute Friday] Small

I’ve written quite a few blog posts about this topic, and yet it is a reminder that I need again and again. Watch out for the small things (and people).
They can make a huge difference.
They can bless a truly horrible day.
They can lighten up a rather cloudy sky.
They can teach you about life.

A few small things and people I was blessed with in the past weeks…

…having a friend treat you to an afternoon out with great coffee and cake
…a little girl running towards you in church, giving you a kiss on the cheek and smiling just because you’re here
…my mom surprising me a day before my state board final exam, just to hang out, relax, massage and pray for me
…missing my bus, but realizing I am not in a hurry to go anywhere. The world does not end with missing one bus (even though we’re sometimes given that impression)
…receiving kind words, emails, texts to encourage you or “just thinking about you” notes
…skyping with long lost friends, hanging out for hours talking about nothing and everything
…waking up in the morning to the most beautiful sunny sky, or enjoying an amazing sunset from your kitchen window

All of these things are not extraordinary, super-over-the-top or organized. They just happened. They were small. And yet they fill me with gratitude and joy. And they remind me that my smallness can make a huge difference to someone else.
Watch out for the small things (and people). You never know the immense blessings they might bring to your life if you let them.

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Five Minutes. Just writing, no editing. Sharing with lots of other great people around the globe. Over at Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday!

[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?

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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] Write

Normally, the prompts for Five Minute Friday concern how we see the world, what we think of certain ideas or how we could encourage people.
Well, today it is about what we actually do.
We write.
Why do I write?

I am a very busy person. Everyday I deal with different people, issues, topics, problems, places.
At night my head often spins and I sometimes worry I might go crazy over all of this. What if I forget something? What if I can’t figure this out?
My thoughts are full of people I still wanted to write to, friends I still wanted to call, errands I still have to run or just reflections on things that just happened.

It is very easy to get confused and lost in my own thoughts.
It is also very easy to feel overwhelmed by everything I still have to do (supposedly).

This is when writing comes in.
It has a certain power to bring order into my thoughts and my life.
It helps me to organize confusing schedules.
To express what I am really afraid of.
To confess my own messiness at times. To see clearly and prioritize well.
When I put running thoughts on paper they often miraculously turn into a clear and logical structure. Overwhelming thoughts become a bullet point on a piece of paper. They are there, but they are no longer able to overpower me.

To write is to conquer.

Writing has the power to speak and see the truth right in front of you. Black letters on a blank page or screen. Letters and words of truth. Of comfort. Of encouragement. Of readjusting my focus to a godly perspective.

To write is to speak truth into something or someone.
When I write I foremost speak to myself.
But in this little space of the internet I call my own I push some of my thoughts out of the nest and see if they can fly and speak to someone else as well.

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It’s great fun writing with others – over at Lisa Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday Party!