It Begins at the Table

It’s Friday night and I’m in my kitchen carving what’s left of the turkey.
My thoughts wander back to last night when my apartment was filled to the brim, every last seat taken by friends and family to celebrate Friendsgiving.

The smell of cranberry sauce, roasted meat and pumpkin had exuded into the entire house. The food was rich and heavy; and we stuffed ourselves until we had to hold our bellies. We laughed at new jokes and smiled dreamily at old memories. We talked until the last bottle of wine (and there weren’t few) had been emptied.

And yet, my favorite moment was when we sat down at the table to share what we are thankful for. Such a simple and yet challenging practice.
A healthy body.
A job that fulfills you.
Protection in the chaos of busy schedules.
Fellowship with colleagues and friends.
Faithful, authentic relationships.
Healing and hope in the midst of pain.
The gift of new life.

The abundance we have been given has nothing in common with materialism. In a culture that wants to sell us fast and cheap deals, we need moments when we sit down and think about what really matters – People, unexpected grace and time are the things we truly value.
We find life, community and belonging when we sit down at the table.

In moments like last night I realize that faith was meant to be more like that.

A God who invites us to his table and all we can bring is ourselves.
A story that has nothing in common with what we do or where we come from.
A conversation about the darkness and joys of life.
A celebration of the beauty that embraces us all.
A place where we find true belonging, honest community, abundant life.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
If you have any good Thanksgiving leftovers recipes – hit me up!

What If?

Sometimes I wonder how stupid we as human beings can be.

In the attempt to understand our world and with our innate desire for everything to make sense, we have simplified so many of life’s big stories and happenings. We have put everything and everyone in boxes, sorted all the world’s mysteries into logical categories.

We seem to have done everything right.
And maybe gotten it all wrong.

What if there is more than one answer to the nagging questions in all of us?
What if issues are more complex than we wish them to be and we need to wrestle with them for days, months, years until we experience a breakthrough?
What if “I don’t know” is actually an honest gift in a conversation?
What if people are more than they let on initially and we actually need to take the time to dig deeper and uncover the treasures inside them?
What if the ‘others’ are more like us than we allow them to be within the walls of our hatred and prejudice?
What if God has more shapes, faces and character traits than we have boxed him in and we have barely scratched the surface of the truly divine?

What if we miss out on so much beauty, color and abundance if we narrow our view to just the one thing?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Why “I Don’t Care” Is Not Enough

Over the past few months, something has been growing inside of me.
It started with an irritation, a slight feeling of discomfort.
The more I found out, the more I could sense anger rising inside of me, slowly making its way to the surface.
Fear seeping into every pore of my body until it has made me cold and numb.

Nationalist states who want to build walls around their countries.
People who close their doors and hearts to those in need.
Customers who buy cheap products at the expense and suffering of all the many.
Politicians who consider their reputation and position more important than common welfare.
Decisions that put democracy at risk.
So many young people who believe their voices won’t really matter.

Once you see, you cannot go back.
The darkness of this world cannot be unseen. 

It would be an all too natural reaction to give up and twiddle our thumbs.
To hide in the corners and stay as far away from it all as possible.
To detach from what’s going on and stop reading the news altogether.
To say, “I don’t care because I simply can’t handle it.”

And yes, sometimes we need to say no and create clear boundaries for our own sanity.
In fact, I wrote an entire series on this whole concept.

But in the midst of all this hopelessness and despair, there’s something else springing up in me.

The world we live in is a fragile construct, a precious gift we’ve been given as stewards. 
It will not be changed by the bystanders and do-nothings. 
It will not become a whit better if all of us will stop caring. 
It will not become any brighter if we all hide our lights under the table. 

So let’s raise our voices for the issues that get your blood boiling.
Let’s shine a light on the darkness of this world and create awareness instead of hiding in our ignorance.
Let’s protect the good that has been given to us and be grateful for the many undeserved gifts everyday.
Let’s educate ourselves to sharpen our tongues and minds for the debates that will be coming.
Let justice roll like a stream of mighty water and revive what has once been gloomy and dead.
Let’s remind each other that in the midst of our brokenness, there’s the One who will all things well someday and that our anger will not be left unanswered. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

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.

Why We Walk

We walk for the boy who has to exchange his toy for a gun.
We walk for the boy who lost his childhood to another meaningless war.
We walk for the girl who was taught that she is worth nothing.
We walk for the girl whose innocence is stolen from her as she sits in front of the webcam, naked and exposed.
We walk for the man who risks his health in mines as he inhales toxic air.
We walk for the man who is locked behind bars for simply telling the truth.
We walk for the woman who leaves her children behind to find a better life in the city.
We walk for the woman who feels like an empty, soul-less shell everything someone rapes her.

We walk for all the people who are enslaved in sweatshops and mines, trafficked into sex work and prostitution, caught in abusive and destructive relationships.
We walk for all those who don’t seem to have a choice and so often have no hope for the future.
We walk for all those whose voices have been silenced.

We walk to shine a light on hidden atrocities,
expose crime
and
speak resurrection
and
hope into the darkness.

IMG-20181021-WA0010
Images by  Sarah Klinke Photography & Art

We walk for freedom.
Because we have this privilege responsibility and cannot be still until every human being has it, too. 

Once a year.
One day in October.
In different languages, styles and time zones.
One message: until everyone is free. 
That’s why we walk.

For more information, check out International Justice Mission, A21 or Endit. Join us next year on October 19, 2019!


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

The Greatest Gift to Your Soul

What are you grateful for? 
When does praise come across your lips easily? 
When is it most difficult for you to give thanks? 

A friend asked us to ponder these questions this week and I realized that gratitude starts with the perspective. Before we open our lips in praise, we have to tune our hearts and focus our eyes on beauty.

In a world that propagates hatred, destruction and suffering, it’s difficult to find things we could be grateful for because all we see is negativity.
In a week when my calendar is filled to the brim and I am stressed on the outside and constantly nervous on the inside, it’s a real challenge to take some time out and give thanks.

And yet, it is crucial to our entire physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
If we speak praise into our busy schedules , we open up space for rest and restoration.
If we give thanks in the midst of the shadows, we unlock strength and courage and a deep well of joy inside us.
If we call out beauty in the places and people around us, something inside us will change.
We will see light in the darkness, hope in the brokenness, divine in the mundane. Gratitude is the greatest gift we could give to our souls.

So, here’s the challenge:

  • Watch out for beauty today. Look at the environment you’re in today. What do you see?
  • Look at the people around you. Tell someone they’re beautiful. Praise them for what they do and who they are. Acknowledge their presence in your life.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
featured photo: Yeshi Kangrang on unsplash

Wanderers and Wrestlers

(Picture credits go to wonderful friends who dragged me up a mountain a few weeks ago. So exhausting, but so worth it).

A few weeks ago, Addie Zierman started to pick apart the meaning of the all-too-familar phrase “Let go and let God.” And she put out the challenge to process this concept for September. So I’m linking up with my two cents on her blog today.


A few weeks before my twentieth birthday, I left my family and flew to South Africa to do ministry in townships for a year. As a Third Culture Kid who had spent her teenage years in Uganda and lived through a difficult re-entry to Germany, I couldn’t wait to get my feet onto African soil again. Little did I know that this year was about so much more than curing my fernweh for this continent.

When I arrived, things weren’t the way I had expected them to be. I shared a room in an open space with little to no privacy; we had to improvise our youth programs with the little material we had and worked in diverse teams. Living with people from all over the world and working together in the South African culture (which, in itself, is already a conglomerate of cultures) led to quite a few challenges.

It didn’t take long until I began to resent my environment, including the work and the people around me. I was knee-deep in culture shock. 

When we transition between cultures, we tend to experience a sequence of emotions.
On arrival, everything is new and we take in new places, smells, tastes. It is fascinating meeting new people who are so welcoming and different from us.
Over time, though, these differences rather exhaust than fascinate us. Communication, daily work and even downtime have suddenly become hard work. We run into conflicts and quickly become angry at the people around us and the circumstances. Everything seems too much, too overwhelming, too tiring. The new is no longer a gift but a burden.

IMG_8280Sadly, there’s no timeframe how long this period of exhaustion and struggle will take.
For some people it’s only days, others need years to adjust to a new place. As a TCK, I have had my fair shares of transitions: I have moved from place to place, from university to a proper first job, in and out of friendships. I have experienced the beauty of the honeymoon phase, battled the depths of culture shock and basked in the joy of coming out stronger on the other side of it.

And yet there is one transition that seems to be unlike all the others.
What happens if the faith we grew up with is no longer this safe haven, this firm foundation, this comforting conviction we sometimes need so desperately in life? 
How do you deal with an evolving belief system that feels like a completely unknown territory to you? 

Leaning into the battle of culture shock is both scary and liberating.
When we enter a new culture, we don’t just leave behind our familiar environment, food, people, jobs. We lose parts of ourselves and the way we used to function in our home culture. Not knowing how to speak a different language or adapt a new style of driving, working or relating to others is like taking a billion steps back in our development. We once again become little children who need to be taught the basics of survival in a new environment.
This is a stressful, enduring and often exhausting process – a journey we often aren’t willing to embark on.

But if we practice patience and presence, we might observe the changes taking place in and around us:
The first time we connect with a stranger over food, laughter and sign language.
The beauty of making a friend who opens up the mysteries of this new culture to us.
The moment we realize that our differences are what make us truly beautiful.
The strength of finding new words for new experiences.
The comfort of learning that we are still here, behind all the struggles and unfamiliarity. The joy of discovering new facets of our own personality and the richness that is now embedded deep inside our souls.
The peace that sweeps over us when we understand that this new normal is our new home.

mountain 1

And I wonder if culture shock can teach us something about our faith battles as well.
When the honeymoon phase is over and we learn that the world is darker, more lost and broken than we could imagine.
When our questions and doubts have become so big that easy answers won’t do.
When that hunger inside of us has turned into this giant hole eating us away.

When we wrestle with our beliefs and the nature of faith itself, we might have to lean right in rather than run away.
We might have to get lost for a while and return to the basics.
We might have to let go of who we used to be in our old lives with our old selves and grieve our losses.
We might have to fight for survival, keep asking, seeking, waiting and feel exhausted most of the time.

mountain 2
We might have to practice gratitude and patience and presence to observe the changes taking place in and around us:
The first time we connect with people from other backgrounds, belief systems and lifestyles to find out that our differences are what make us truly beautiful.
The strength of speaking our thoughts out loud and putting new words to new discoveries.
The beauty of meeting others out there in the ambiguity of it all who hold and protect our thoughts and questions.
The comfort of encountering God in unexpected places and learning that He is so much more than we could have ever known.
The pure joy of allowing him to unearth the depths and richness that are still inside of us.
The peace that sweeps over us when we understand that this new normal is our new home – the beautiful wilderness, the familiar unknown – the place where He has always been waiting for us.