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!
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.
Once upon a time, December 2010, to be specific, I stood at a turning point in my life. Well, my husband and I did. We had made all these decisions together. Tough ones. Major ones.
That was nine years ago! We’ve come a long long way.
Some days ago we were driving to my parents’ house for the Christmas Holidays. While our kids were playing the “are we there yet?” game, I took my husband’s hand. “Do you remember December 2010? We sat in between moving boxes in Virginia, wrapping up our life in the U.S.” He nodded. It was so much more than just another international move. For us it was the beginning of a new era.