Brave this Life

Sometimes we write, sometimes we live until inspiration strikes us.

Yesterday my grandmother came to visit me.

This is something quite special.
For the last seven years she’s been taking care of my ageing grandfather and couldn’t get out much. Grandpa died in June and now, she’s slowly rediscovering her mobility and desire to explore. So at age eighty-five, she got on a seven hour train ride to come visit her family in the South.

We went on a bus tour through the city, let the sun and a warm breeze to kiss our faces and treated ourselves to delicious ice cream. In between there was a lot of laughter and a lot of stories.

My grandmother is a wise lady and in between our conversations, she drops some knowledge that sits with you, long after the talk is over. 

Roll with the punches.
Sleep on the floor.
Try new food.
Open the champagne.
Travel the world.
Get to know people and their opinions.
Accept the course of life and practice gratitude.
Get to know the Giver of all things.
You cannot always change what happens, but it depends how you choose to feel about it. 

When we arrive at my apartment, she gets very still.
“I’m just braving myself to walk up these 70 steps to your apartment.
Let’s go.”

(She made it up there in no time. Impressive.)

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Why It’s Important to Push Each Other

It’s almost a year since I moved to this new city. Quite a crazy idea – moving during the school year when your head is definitely not in the game of making new friends and settling in somewhere. Well, sometimes work forces you to do crazy things.

A lot has happened in this almost year. 
I now know more than the way to work and the grocery store. I actually stumbled across some real beauty in my own neighborhood.
I have survived my first year of teaching and just started my second one. And I still like it. (Good because otherwise I might have a problem with my career choice…)
I have written a book which was launched two weeks ago. This is still a whirlwind of emotions and I’m enjoying every minute of this ride.

I have found people who support me.

Colleagues who have welcomed me in and made me feel part of the team. Some of them have already become friends.
Creative minds who cheered for me when I signed the book contract and encouraged me to be brave with my words.
Dear friends from near and far who have overwhelmed me with their pictures about the book, cheerful posts and warm words.
Faithful souls who have prayed and believed for me when I couldn’t.

There’s no material value in support, no visible product in the end. 
But our support can mean the world to someone else. 
A word of encouragement in tough times.
A hug.
A celebration for each other’s accomplishments.
An hour of your time.
It’s like the wind in our sails that pushes us forward on this ocean of life. 

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
And sorry for being absent these last few weeks. I had a book to launch… 🙂

No, You’re Not

Moving to a new city and starting a new job (the first real job ever) is quite an interesting thing. During the week I am incredibly busy preparing lessons and teachings, countless meetings and admin work.
But then there are the weekends or breaks when my schedule is empty and I have some room to breathe. It is in the quiet times when I realize how abandoned I am. Continue reading “No, You’re Not”

Our Business

He said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.
He said, “Let the earth bring forth crops and flowers and trees”, and the earth was suddenly green.
He said, “Let there be animals of all kinds”, and all the big and small animals started populating the earth.
He said, “Let there be”, and it came into being.
God’s business is to create. Continue reading “Our Business”

When Quiet Is the Last Thing I Should Be

A few Fridays ago the prompt for the weekly link-up was quiet. I did write something on it, but it wasn’t my first draft. What ended up on the blog were not the thoughts I had initially when I pondered the prompt a bit.

My first ideas did not seem right at that time, but they have spooked around in my head for a while now and I feel like I have to share them, too. So here are some unscripted thoughts about me no longer wanting to be quiet.

I am a quiet person and very often that’s okay.

But lately I’ve been thinking that sometimes it’s maybe the last thing I should be.

With all the stress and busyness of life going on at the moment I find myself really out of touch with the news.
I scroll down newsfeeds and take in the headlines, but I can’t talk in depth about what’s really going on. There’s thousands upon thousands of refugees coming into the country each month, and I am just overwhelmed with everything that could or should be done.

I want to educate myself and break out of the quietness, but I am often too busy (and sometimes also lazy) to really do it.

With all the hills and valleys I’ve journeyed through in the last year my faith has changed quite a bit. It has grown and the process is not done yet.
I often find myself alone and unable to connect with what I used to call church culture. I don’t want to be awkward and weird, but I also can’t pretend to belong somewhere where I don’t feel right.

This is a challenge when you’re a worship leader and often have no idea what you’re supposed to do up on that stage.
I want to evolve and grow my roots deeper into God, but I am often too afraid to share this with the people I’m supposed to lead.


With all the growing up I’ve had to do in the last two years I often reached my limits. I just couldn’t go on anymore and had to learn that I need help. People who were allowed to see my messy apartment and to hear my confused thoughts. Places where I was allowed to just be and not accomplish anything. Friends who helped me to process out loud and discover a rhythm, rest and beauty again.
I want to grow in community and friendship, but I am often too ashamed to open up and let people in.

The world is not changed by people keeping quiet.

Things in our lives, in our world, in our churches won’t take a turn for the better if we don’t muster up the courage to share our struggles and doubts. Places can’t even begin to change if we don’t shed light on what went wrong in the first place. Hearts can’t be transformed if we don’t fight for new life and intimacy with all the hope and strength that’s left in us.

Here’s to change.
Here’s to speaking up and sharing myself.

[#write31days] Day 31 Two Years Later

Welcome to Day 31 of #write31days! You have made it to the end, congratulations! And thank you for reading along. 
For more information check out the series’ page

A day in my life October 2015.
It’s been about two years since I started looking at boundaries and practicing them in my life. Many things have changed since then.
I have graduated from university and started my first real job. It’s been a crazy time of transition, saying goodbye to old lifestyles, habits – but also welcoming new tasks and challenges.
I am still busy and I didn’t just stop everything I was doing.

And yet I feel more balanced.

When I started my new job I didn’t know how exhausted I would be, so I canceled all my usual obligations. It was a bit risky stepping back from so many positions, but instead of accusations and neglect I received encouragement and help.
This was really good because starting a job (well, the first one ever) is a major transition, like being uprooted from your natural habitat and replanted into completely unknown ground. These were some tough first months.
After a few months into the job I felt like I had more of a grip on everything and I could slowly add other things to my life. Step by step I rediscovered life.
Coffee with a friend.
An afternoon in the gym.
Dinner with a bunch of people.
Staying up longer than 9 pm (if you get up at 5 every morning this is a big deal!).
A weekend away.
Setting boundaries is not about stopping life all together. It is letting go of the many nuisances and energy drainers to make space and time for life, real life.

I have become more vulnerable.
These last two years saw a few goodbyes to friends and idealized memories of the past. This was definitely a challenge accompanied by tears, loneliness and despair; and I’m not saying I’m all over it yet.
But it was also a process of refinement and immense blessing.
People have come through in unexpected ways. I received free meals, a place to stay, a space to cry, a silent hug.
People prayed when I couldn’t, they encouraged me when I had run out of words, they told me to stop when my mind was stuck in worries.
I have learned to speak my mind more and not fight every battle on my own. At first it felt like ripping out part of my soul and pouring it onto paper; now it’s more like processing out loud and inviting others into my mess. And I am incredibly blessed by people who are willing to stay and listen.


I have become more selective.
It’s not about how many meetings I attend or how much work I do.
I still get lots of emails from people asking to me help out, join this or that committee. I check every one of them. Think about them, discuss it with others. Listen into myself for my real motivation to do it. Often I hear a NO and lately, I’ve become better at actually saying NO.

It’s not about how many friends I have.
It’s not about the many.
I rather want to find the few that are really worth investing in. These rare friendships that will last longer than a move or a change of lifestyle or opinion. These beautiful connections that go deeper than accomplishments and gifts.
There are not that many out there and it might take a long time to build and refine these friendships. But the journey I have started has been good so far.

I have become more courageous.
Building deep connections is always a two-way street and sometimes you have to make the first step. I have learned to share more of myself. Not with everyone, but with the right people. Giving away a bit of myself has helped them to open up as well.
I have made interesting and often surprising connections when I shared. Some of my thoughts end up on this blog and I’ve gotten really great responses, often from people I don’t even know personally. Life is journeying together and it’s great to travel together.31b

I have become more intentional.
Do less, but dig deeper.
I don’t cram as much work into a day as I used to; instead I learned to appreciate an hour of doing nothing or a full day of rest.
I value community and actively seek it, even though it sometimes means stepping out of my comfortzone.

Sunday has become my favorite day of the week.
It is no longer a day of work and worry, it is Sabbath. A day to do nothing or something restorative.
A day when I sleep in and enjoy breakfast.

A day when I read a book, not for work, just for pleasure.

A day when I spend time with my coloring book, letting my
creative side take me to some new place.


A day when I listen to a sermon while walking through the woods, allowing the Lord to speak to me in some new way.
A day when I go on culinary adventures with my roommate and we enjoy new recipes or unusual ingredients.

A day when I celebrate life together with others.

Setting boundaries is a journey and I am not even close to finishing. I guess we’ll never be. But I keep on going and growing and thriving.
And I hope you will, too.

What have you learned in the course of this month? Have you made any changes? Have you experienced new blessings!
I would love to hear from you and your experiences during this challenge in the comments below!

[#write31days] Day 21 Keep Your Balance

Welcome to Day 21 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

In the last twenty days we have covered what boundaries are, boundary problems we can have, and some of the lies we believe about boundaries. Now we tackle the last third of the month and will take a closer look at how we can set healthy boundaries in various areas of our lives.

As I have practiced setting a few more boundaries in my life during the last year I have found one image particularly helpful. It somehow serves as an analogy on your boundary journey.

Your Life Is Like a Bank Account

21dImagine your life is a bank account.You can put money in, money that will help you buy food, pay your rent, go on vacation, buy gifts for others…

In a similar way, you can ‘put money’ in your life. Things that get you through the day, that motivate you, that strengthen you. People who encourage and challenge you, who walk with you, support you.

This can look different for everyone.
I love sleep. Every morning when I get out of bed I am already excited to go back to bed at night. Sleep is a wonderful thing, it recharges your body with energy, cures sickness, and just feels good. 🙂 So I need a lot of it.
I love people. Having conversations over coffee or dinner are my favorites. Listening to their stories of what God is doing in their lives makes me excited and immensly grateful to share in His great story. Asking questions and getting challenging answers pushes me forward in my growth journey.
And I love serving others, investing my time and thoughts into their lives, giving advice and seeing someone thrive is a blessing you can’t get anywhere else. Giving someone the gift of your time or an unexpected surprise is an even greater gift to me.
But I also like to withdraw. Sometimes I just want to be alone with nothing much going on. I just want to be and remind myself that I don’t always have to do.
I need music in my life. If I don’t listen to it somewhere you’ll definitely hear me humming a tune. Sitting down at the piano and playing just for fun helps me express my feelings. Sometimes it’s soft melodies, sometimes it sounds more like I’m beating the poor thing.
I love to read. Diving into a thick novel and into a completely different world created by a genius human being. I need God’s word reverberating in my life and soul as I take a walk or simply go about my day. Knowing His presence won’t ever leave me fills me with peace beyond understanding.

Doing these things, being with these people ‘puts money’ into my life account. They refresh me, restore me, build me up, keep me going forward. 21b

In order to buy food and clothes and pay rent and whatnot, you need to withdraw money from your bank account. This is a natural thing, we do it every day.
Unless we live in a cave all by ourselves without a job and any human interaction, living life withdraws something from our life account.
It takes our physical energy to go to work and run around all day. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. But you definitely know you’ve done your days work when you fall into bed at night with heavy feet. 
It takes our mental energy to plan our days and weeks and make time for everything. Of course there are things like work and meetings and church. Appointments we can’t really cancel. And of course, there are friends we want to meet, go to the gym, do another hobby…But do we plan time for yourself? Do we actually pencil ‘relax and do nothing’ into your calendar? Do we try to go to bed early and have enough sleep every night or do we stay up because there’s always more to do?
21aIt takes our emotional energy to engage with people. As I said earlier, I am a people person. And yet, somewhere in the last two years I have learned that it’s hard work to be with people.
Getting to know them and asking the small talk question is hard.
Waiting patiently until they are willing to go deeper is exhausting. Listening carefully to someone while your mind is tempted to drift off is a tough discipline to manage.
Investing in people and relationships means giving away your time, your thoughts, your love – a bit of yourself. 

Putting money in and withdrawing money from our bank account is a natural thing, we do it all the time. And normally, we don’t really think about it.
Until there’s nothing left.
Someone who has no money in his account will dread a visit to the bank because he can’t take anything out. Someone who doesn’t care and goes way over his limit will eventually drown in debt.

Giving away our energy and receiving some along the way is also a natural thing. Normally, we don’t really think about it.
Until our account is out of balance.
When we take more from others than we’re supposed to, we’ll get too comfortable, proud, and content with ourselves. Our account is about to burst and no one will share our blessings. 21cWhen we withdraw more than we have, give away more time, thought, and energy than we actually have, we will break down and eventually be bankrupt. In psychological terms, you call this a burnout. 
This is the time to set boundaries.

Think about your own ‘life account’. What are the things and people that ‘put money’ in? What are the things and people that ‘withdraw money’? Is your life balanced or are you heading towards bankruptcy?