There has never been a time in my life where I needed the guidance of God more than in these weird days. How about you? Have you been totally relaxed and completely chilled out in the last two years? Well – congrats! And please drop your recipe for that in the comments. For my other precious readers who at one day or the other have felt stressed out, puzzled or plain overwhelmed – me, too! And it should come as no surprise that the bible is the one and only book that has the true guidance system inherently built in. Let’s have a look.
I miss you so much!
I’ve missed you every single day for the last ten years. Every. Single. Day.
That makes 3, 654 days of missing you.
As your little sister and brother are peacefully asleep next door, I sit here, crying my eyes out. Because there’s this huge hole in this mother’s heart of mine. And it will stay there until the day I die and meet you again.
One of the greatest gifts you gave to your dad, to me and to your siblings is our stark longing for eternity. We all live our lives knowing we will see you again. I cannot fathom how a bereaved parent can live without this hope giving perspective. It’s like a thin silver shimmering veil that separates us from you, beloved Julius Felix.
As I’m looking at pictures we took when you were born I see so much of your sister and brother in your beautiful perfect face. I wonder how you look like today. One thing I’m pretty sure of for some reason is that your hair is just as long as your little brother’s.
We will let our balloons rise to heaven again today. Paired with tears and this deep longing of being able to see you, hold you, hug you for the longest time. Soon, my love, soon. You know that your mom and dad and sister and brother love you to pieces. And you know that for us to live is Christ and to die is gain. We will diligently serve our Jesus on this earth until He calls us home.
May we always, always live our lives in light of eternity. May this be the perspective that determines our every thought, word and action.
Julius Felix, I love you forever. Happy Birthday, my firstborn son.
Love, your mom.
It is with a mix of anger, bewilderment and peace at the same time that I’m writing this text. I can only speak for what’s happening in Germany, to be more specific, for the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Recent developments here have made me come up with today’s title. To sum it up in one word, in my opinion, the current theme is and will be uncertainty. On all levels. We’re not going back to our old lives, I’m pretty sure. So what stays? What underground is my “life house” built on?
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”Matthew 7/24-27 (The Bible, ESV)
Sounds like a “nice story”? For me this is not just a nice story. I take Jesus’ words literally. And I (re-)build my “life house” accordingly. Does this make me seem “fundamental / radical / hardliner / you name it” in the eyes of some? Totally! Does this bother me? Not on most days, no. Why? Well, the answer is directly tied to the title of this blog text. So here they come, my all time non-negotiables. Not in any particular order, and I may have to add more to the collection as this life continues to unfold.
Bible: The Word of God, the Bible, sets the standard for my life. It is my filter so to speak. Jesus said that He alone is the Truth, the Way and the Life. And I believe Him. His Word ranks higher than any human opinion or theory.
Eternity: My perspective in life is not to become rich, famous or successful in the eyes of the world. My perspective is eternity. It is to hear these words when I come before the judge Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25/23).
Trouble: I know that in this world, I’ll have trouble (John 16/33). The greek word thlibó can also be translated “pressure (literally or figuratively), afflicted(-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation. This helps me to better understand and put in line the ongoings of our times.
Fear: I fear God, not men. I hold Him and Him alone in referential awe. Not fear like in “being afraid”. But the fear of the Lord which leads to so many good things of eternal value (blessing, wisdom, knowledge, protection, life). One of my absolutely favored quotes in the scriptures is found in Galatians 1/10, where Paul says: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” This! So in your face, right? I love it!
Thankfulness: Every single day I check my “thankfulness battery”. Why? Because thankfulness makes you happy. You can’t be grumpy and complaining and happy at the same time, can you? The Bible is full of exhortations to be thankful. And research shows again and again the positive effects that an attitude of gratitude has on our body. Check this out to find out more.
Forgiveness: Closely tied to the above stated are bitterness and unforgiveness. I must let God search and screen my heart on a daily basis so bitterness doesn’t have a chance to grow roots. Instead, the bible calls me to be rooted and grounded in love. Challenge accepted! Freely have I been forgiven, so freely (even though not so easy some days) I am to forgive when others hurt me. Ask my husband, it includes growing pains, but it’s worth it. Every single time. Bitterness and unforgiveness are dangerous! It’s like handing the key of your heart to the devil.
Humility: I must stay in the will of God at all times and fear not. Or like A. W. Tozer put it: “Outside the will of God, there’s nothing I want. Inside the will of God, there’s nothing I fear.” I think this is only doable when you come to terms with the fact that He is God and you are not. That you need to let go and let God. Release control. Start trusting the One who made you and holds you in His hand. He is so much bigger than you can think or imagine. And He loves you dearly.
I’ve got a feeling that this list may not be complete. But I need to push “save” and “publish” before my little five year old whirlwind of a son comes back from preschool. So please stay in touch, let me know what you think and make the best of today!
Rewind my life a good year and you’ll see a woman that’s joyful to be 40 and excited to discover everything this new decade has in store for her.
Look at me today and you can just hand me another tissue to wipe my tears away and clean my nose. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited, even at 41. But something’s changed. And it’s not just the snotty nose and red eyes.
This ain’t pretty, I know! And neither is this life that’s happening around me nowadays. Beware, this blog text contains some explicit content. But none of it is to be hidden or kept a secret any longer, not for me. I need to put it on paper. Some of this, correction, most of this you’ll not find in the state-bearing news channels. Most of what you hear and read and see these days comes disguised with words like “tolerant”, “open-minded” or “liberal”.
But why the tears and snot you may ask? Well, for one: I’ve come to grieve my “pre 2020” life and I don’t blame a tiny virus to be faulty of changing everything. But that’s only part of the reason I cry a lot these days. The bigger part has to do with the rose-colored glasses I used to wear and don’t anymore. Let me explain.
Up until last year my husband would sometimes approach me saying “Honey, just because you don’t get informed about political decisions and laws being made doesn’t mean it’s not out there.” I would shrug it off, not seeing the need to dig through blogs and podcasts and taking all these “news” in.
Well, then we were locked down in a matter of days just like many other people in many other countries around the globe last spring. In the beginning I still hashtagged with the crowds #flattenthecurve and #westayathome. But the weeks passed and my husband and I really talked about certain things meaning he spoke I listened. I needed to learn about some of the developments and trends that were becoming more and more visible. And I do not mean conspiracy theories.
Because I started to see the need to be more educated, I started registering on certain online petition platforms. Furthermore, I started reading alternative news blogs and listening to well-researched podcasts. To this day I must say it still feels like I’m in the process of taking off my rose-colored glasses and it still hurts my eyes.
What was happening you may ask? Well, I was no longer shying away from hard facts and figures. I was starting to take responsibility for what I’m on earth for: First and foremost: to continuously lock eyes with Jesus, my savior, in intimacy. And then, to go out into the world and push back darkness wherever I set foot by prayer and speaking the truth in love.
You see, I lead the intercession team at a fantastic little prayer house. In every session I led in the past I would rely on God to let me know what to pray for. And, of course, I’ll continue to do so. But the topics were often let’s say a bit “general”, not too specific. Deciding to look the monster of our time in the eyes has helped me in praying more precisely and aggressively. I’m much more aware of the fact that I’m in a war zone. My fight is never against humans. Always against the rulers and powers of the darkness in the unseen world. Sounds creepy? Sure is! But as my little five year old son told me the other night: “Mommy, there’s the bad forces and there’s the good forces, and that’s Jesus and the Holy Ghost. And they always win!” Yes, my son, absolutely right!
In order to win there has to be a battle, though. And in being connected to prayer warriors of every color in many nations I’ve come to the conclusion that the devil and his gang are quickly realizing that very soon their time will be up. Maybe that’s why for the last twelve months to me it’s felt like hell is lose.
I kid you not.
I mean, come on – how can you pervert a marriage that God has decreed between a man and a woman to be “anyone with anyone”? How in the world can you legalize killing an unborn child at any point of time in the womb, up until the birth? That is sick! It is murder. And still, it’s happening around the globe, day after day.
How can a man, that God created as a man, feel like a woman and therefore call himself a woman, go to the ladies’ fitting room and then molest a biological woman? And not get sued! How can a party in Germany describe its legislative proposal with “… bodies that are able to give birth, mainly female …”? Or how can a church in Berlin decree that it’s not ok for the Trinity to be all male and therefore use the * to show that Jesus could have been a woman? How can the EU fund a children’s book with 400,000 Euros that tells the story about a gay kangaroo couple?
I kid you not. This is what’s going on in Germany, Switzerland, UK, Australia, U.S.A., France, etc. etc.
And even though I called myself a Christ follower, I tried to ignore these “trends” up until last year.
How long, Lord?
To this day, I have to wisely choose my battles. I cannot read through too much of the perversion and unrighteousness that is happening on this planet on any given day. But neither can nor will I look the other way like I used to. I owe my husband a huge Thank You for being so patient with me and for continuously trying to make me aware of the schemes “out there”.
By the time 2020 was coming to an end, I cried out to God one day in November just like Habakkuk cried out to God:
“How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.”Habbakuk 1/2-4
Here’s God’s answer to me. It came in two parts, one right back in November:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”1 Peter 5/8
Alright, that was doable. I did and do my best to stay vigilant and on my guard. But what about my anger about all the atrocities and unrighteousness? What about all my questions and cries of help in the light of so much helplessness?
God’s answer on that topic was super clear. As usual, I walked through the forest, just a couple of days ago, this time battling through quite a handful of despair and a touch of hopelessness.
Here’s what God said:
“For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”Hebrews 10/30
Wake up, my soul!
As I pondered this scripture I said: “OK, God, I get it. But what does that leave me with?”
His answer was plain and oh so glorious: You worship Me.
He reminded me of a song I’d been singing so often and so loud in 2020: Awake my soul. I quickly searched it and plugged my earphones in. The birds and trees and anything nearby were singing and dancing and jumping with me. I sang from the top of my lungs! Like my kids, I jumped up and down, crying for joy and relief.
Because you know what? Our Jesus is coming back soon! And He loves nothing more than His followers to be on their knees, humbling themselves unto the mighty hand of God. He’s honored and worshipped best when we praise His name out loud. He’s magnified when we push darkness back by calling on His name and depending solely on Him. He alone is worthy of all our admiration.
The “forest effect”
When I returned home from my “worship in the forest” session my spirit and soul felt a ton lighter.
Since then I have had a mixture of a lot of reading the bible and a tiny bit of skimming the news. At times, I would start to feel heavy again. Thank God for that 48hr nonstop session at our prayer house last weekend – my 2hr shift had the same effect as the walk in the forest. Jesus eased my burden and adjusted my yoke and focus.
And when I asked my husband this morning to hold me and pray with me as I was crying and weeping over the brokenness of this world – guess what? Yep – it had the same effect. Maybe I’ll call it the “forest” effect. Just kidding.
End of story
So what’s my – and hopefully your – takeaway from this text? I cannot allow the heaviness to invade and overtake me. I literally live Matthew 11, 28 -30 each and every day at present. It’s ok to acknowledge the bad stuff and bring these burdens to Jesus so He can give me rest in exchange. When I start to feel heavy I come and sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him. Because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Anything else is not from Him and I don’t want it! I must continuously remind myself of the fact that He has won the battle! It is my duty to pray His will being done on earth as it is in heaven. His kingdom to come and invade this earth as it is in heaven.
As I’m wrapping up another long and intense day I can lean back, relax and know that I’m safe in the hands of my heavenly Father. So are my husband and kids. I refuse to worry about tomorrow because the Bible tells me so. And I rejoice over one of my most favorite verses in the last chapter of the last book of the everlasting Word of God and I’ll close with this:
“Jesus said: Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”Revelation 22/12+13
Weeks have passed and my “I need to work on this” list keeps getting longer. But due to government measures I have to perform as my daughter’s elementary school teacher and at the same time my son’s preschool teacher – again . Needless to say, in addition to the already existing colorful everyday life, a lot falls by the wayside. Like having an hour to myself in daylight. At the moment I’m lucky if I get that hour to myself while walking the fields in the pitch dark, something between 6pm and 8pm. Some days with a lot of frustration on the inside that I am doing something “illegal”. What? Returning home only at 8:18 pm? Criminal! Curfew in our state (legally enforced) starts at 8pm sharp. Really? Makes me feel like a child that’s being put into time out – for having done what? Phew!
So, last year my husband and I had agreed on leaving two topics outside our home: Corona and Trump. To be honest, it really did help to keep the peace here. Even though as a couple we basically agreed on major points, several of our friends or acquaintances didn’t and don’t. And that’s ok! It doesn’t take away from being and staying friends to have different views and opinions – or at least that’s how it should be. We simply want to protect the sensitive ears and souls of our children here.
Now we’re off to 2021 and it surely feels like the movie “Groundhog Day” here in Germany. After all, our son (turning five in a couple of days) still doesn’t have a room to himself. Why? Because it’s being taken for granted that my husband uses a room as his home office – until further notice. Tough luck, kiddo! Doesn’t look like you’ll get to have a room to yourself “for now”, there currently are no options of us moving to a bigger place or daddy going back to the office downtown.
I could go on and on with much more stuff that is aggravating, unnerving and that keeps me questioning my sanity – just like thousands of other families in this country. But then, after all, my blog text wouldn’t be encouraging or edifying. And so I do what I try to do daily: to manage the turnaround from anger to peace. From consternation to hope.
Grumbling with authenticity
It is my endeavour as a mom to be a positive role model to my children. Whether it’s about authenticity, self-efficacy or convictions. They know me happy, sad, angry. Quiet, loud, peaceful. Everyday, we converse about things that are on our minds as individuals and as a family. For example, I explain to them when I’m so angry about something that I have to go and chop some wood outside.
Lately, however, I have caught myself again and again that I just did not want to explain to them why I rattled around in the kitchen rather angrily. Then last week, I uttered a nasty phrase (which I won’t reproduce here), and two pairs of children’s eyes looked at me a bit shocked. I mumbled an “I’m sorry” and knew: I urgently need to go out into the field, trudge through mud and snow and let my heavenly Father renew my perspective.
So, a day later, I went for a brisk walk through the woods and meadows at lunchtime. I had asked my husband to spend his lunch break looking after the children instead of taking his daily walk. Once in the woods, the words just tumbled out of me. Half praises, half lamentation. I call it “authentic grumbling”. Haha! I’m glad the trees don’t talk back. I did feel better afterwards. Why? The Holy Spirit had reminded me of an illustration. I’ll recite it here, it’s from the brilliant book “The happy intercessor” by Beni Johnson (pages 77/78). A must read I believe!
Sing with me!
“I met with a woman in our church who wanted to let me know some things that were going on in our city with the occult. After we met, I headed right over to our prayer house. I was feeling a little weighty and needed to get God’s perception on all that I had heard. (…) I had a vision. In the vision, I was in a familiar place with Jesus (…). I was talking to Him about the information I had just received. I looked over at His other hand, which was closed. I could tell that He was holding something in secret in that hand. I asked him what He had in His hand. He opened His hand, and I saw that He was holding the whole world. It looked so small.”
I pondered this illustration while walking through nature and it brought relief and peace to me anew.
However, not a bit of the situation around me had changed. That evening, I called my mentor in the U.S. We hadn’t been talking long when he asked this: “What do you mean you can’t go to a restaurant or a bookstore? What do you mean there’s practically only one opinion allowed nowadays?”
I tried to explain what has been the weary “state of emergency” everyday life in Germany for months. He asked me the same questions that I keep asking myself and cannot seem to answer with logical attributes. Then it dawned on me. While explaining, these words came up and brought understanding: Powerlessness. Impotence. That’s what I feel in my heart, day in and day out, despite the peace I strive for. That’s what makes me angry again and again. This feeling of helplessness in the face of disproportion and injustice.
So guess what? Exactly! The next day I went for another walk, this time with one of my prayer friends. We call it “walk and talk”. Mile after mile. And when the heart is poured out, we pray together. It’s the most beautiful moment of the walk. Knowing that Jesus has walked the path with us, that He knows us, sees us, loves us. And He’s got the whole world in His hand!
On the last feet of the muddy dirt road I prayed these words, and with them I now also end today’s text. The prayer has not only given me peace for today, but what is much more important: it has straightened out my perspective. I wish you the same with all my heart. Feel free to pray these words with me – today and on any other day necessary:
“Jesus, I thank You that You are the King of Kings. I thank You that You are coming back soon. Please renew this very perspective in me: to know that all that I experience and see happening around me, are only the preliminaries of what You have described in Your Word. Jesus, let me stay alert and vigilant. Help me to stay close to Your heart in these troubling times. Give me eyes to see what You see.
Father, thank You for Your promise to watch over Your Word so that it carries out exactly what it is sent to do. Thank You for Your promise that Your Word will not return empty. Father, You alone are omniscient. You alone are omnipresent. You alone are omnipotent. I bring You my powerlessness and put it into Your all-powerfulness. I will trust You as my children trust me, with all my heart. Knowing that nothing in this world catches You off guard. Knowing that You make no mistakes and best of all: Knowing that You are my sovereign God who holds me in His hand.
Holy Spirit, please be my counselor and comforter as God’s Word says. Always remind me in due time of all that Jesus said (John 14/26). I need Your encouragement today more than ever. I need Your knowledge anew every day. Thank you for dwelling in me.
Life of an introvert during a “pandemic”.
I’m sitting in my “second living room”. It’s cold, I can see my breath. There’s snow to my left and my right. My hands are hidden in gloves. Sounds not so cozy? Depends. Actually, I’m sitting on a hunting blind in the middle of the woods.
It is here that I can think uninterruptedly, have a clear vision and fresh air. And what’s most important: no signal. My phone can’t ring or beep and what’s even better I can’t be tempted to get lost in the world wide web or messenger apps.
Blessing in disguise
You see, the reason I flee to the forest is simple: I am alone and no one knows where I am. Solitude and Silence are two of the most exquisit nouns to describe the bliss I experience when sitting on this wooden high chair.
Ever since the lockdown of March 2020 my beloved husband has been working from home 100 %. It’s become a blessing, yes. In hindsight. At the same time it continually presents the challenge of finding serenity and the luxury of being by myself. By that I literally mean physically alone.
And that’s why I’m sitting between these hundreds of tall old trees. They help me to let go. To calm down. To be one with the Creator of heaven and earth.
Smart (phone) habit
We did go on our two weeks summer vacation this year. And it’s a tradition that during these two weeks we put our phones in flight mode and only check for urgent messages every now and then. I love how I feel free without always having the phone in my pocket.
This year, for the first time, I chose to continue this habit that has done me and my family so well. To this day I’m restricting the use of my cell phone with the help of “screen time” monitoring. That’s why today’s title is called “unplugged”. That’s why I’m sitting in the woods with zero reception. Sounds banal? Hm. Let’s see.
Matter of the heart
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 2020 then it’s this. The scripture in Proverbs 4, 23 is real.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”Proverbs 4,23 (NIV)
At the beginning of the whole “COVID era” I closely followed the news, talked to a bunch of people and tried to stay on top of everything that was unfolding. Little did I know that I was on a fast track to sacrificing peace and my sound mind.
You see, all the devil wants is to steal, kill and destroy whatever he can in your life. And if he’s after one thing then it’s your peace of mind. That’s no news. Fear is not just an unnerving feeling, fear is a spirit and we are not to let it “be given” to us. God doesn’t give fear – the opposite! He gives us a spirit that gives us power and love and a sound mind. (from 2 Timothy 1,7)
Google News or The Good News?
So how do you find out if it’s time to unplug? I’ve shared in another recent post about peace of mind including a “treasure hunt map”. The bible does say we are to seek and pursue peace (Psalms 34,14). And there are so many fine sermons out there regarding this topic. I listened to one just yesterday. I had listened to it at least three times – and I needed it a fourth time. It helps me to renew my mind.
I’ll be honest – way too often I do get tangled into the panic and fear and web of lies that the enemy diligently weaves out there. And when I start a walk through the fields or into the forest and I sense that I have no clarity but only confusion in my mind, then I know it’s high time to unplug from the phone and run to the Throne of God and His Word.
I love how Bill Johnson states this issue:
If you have more input from social & mainstream media than from the Word of God then your discouragement is self-inflicted. You are responsible. You cannot have a garden and have a key to the gate and invite the enemy to come in and plant weeds and then moan to God about it. (…) You have to take ownership of the gate to your own heart.”Bill Johnson in “The promise of peace”
So take ownership today. You control and decide what you are consuming and letting into your heart, ears and eyes. It will make all the difference. Not just for your own well-being. How you handle yourself will rub off on the ones around you. My husband as well as my children have happily confirmed that I’m much more relaxed and fun to be around when I’ve had my “time out(side) with Jesus”.
On a side note, yes, I have deleted my instagram accounts. For several reasons which can be summed up in two words: Digital Detox. I had sacrificed so much time for being on the phone that it scares me looking back. I know we all have to give an account one day for how we used these few years we lived on this earth. Check out this short video for further illustration:
This has provoked and convicted me often. Paired with “Look, mommy, look. Looooooook, mooooooooooom!” many times a day and a dream that my daughter recently had I made a decision. I chose to transfer my beloved concept of minimalism to the use of digital devices. It has freed me in so many ways. I love it. And I don’t miss a thing.
Snapshot (noun, masculine): a photograph, especially one taken quickly or in a moment of opportunity.
Have you ever wondered how others seem to be on top of everything and you’re the only one who isn’t? I certainly have. Many times. And there seems to be a correlation with the usage of social media, too!
The song “no roots” by Alice Merton made me cry in the middle of a store. And that wasn’t too long ago. As we’re headed towards the fifth “anniversary” of having moved to a tiny village in Southern Germany I need to recap today. Follow me on a journey that has lead me to inner peace and contentment.
Or: When crisis hits you
This may be one of the most personal blog entries so far. With this in mind, I’d like to give a heads up that this text isn’t one of the “easy to read” ones. Nonetheless, I believe it to be a very important message and encourage you to stay with me even through the difficult parts.
The title describes a time span in my life that was one of the most brutal and painful ones. Here’s why. Back in 2011, my husband and I had just moved back to Germany after having lived in the USA for 2.5 years. We settled in Berlin with one big plan: We wanted to have kids, many kids. And since we were in our early thirties we knew we better get going, right?
So far I was determined not to write a “corona” blog text. But after sitting at a blank screen for half an hour yesterday, I changed my mind. Because today’s topic does have to do with the times we currently live in. Undoubtedly, I had several subjects to write about but none of them felt right for today.