I’ve carried the name of my blog under my heart for many years now. Recently I kicked off this project and had a hand lettering professional create my logo. She asked me if this will become a food blog – and I was startled – no, not at all! I won’t be posting recipes. Let the experts do that.
A quick intro to how this blog was born
So let me explain where this phrase comes from. Bear with me, it will be a little throwback to my late twenties and thirties. I have an MBA and after university I enthusiastically embarked on that strategy of making a career. I succeeded quickly in the automotive unit of a large corporation and was sent to the U.S. branch as a department manager in 2008. It was a challenge and adventure at the same time. No doubt my husband and I loved our life in the States. Six digit income, cars, shopping, house – the whole nine yards. We seemed to have it all.
It came at a price, though. Long hours at the office, beginning of sleep disturbances, back pain. Hence, my health was at stakes. And soon enough my marriage, as well. I lived for the firm, for my career. Sure, God was still in the picture and I tried to do it all, perfectionist as I am. But I still felt hollow on the inside and something was missing.
Rien ne va plus!
Then I collapsed. Burnout. On a business trip in Alabama, July 2010. My body shut down like a computer. Within hours I started feeling like in a free fall. What followed was a whole lot of endless hours of crying, panic attacks, racing heart, existential fear, staring at a white wall. What was happening? I didn’t know if I would ever be able to laugh again. There was nothing but emptiness.
All this materialistic splendor – worthless in my eyes. Over night. My husband was completely at a loss. He would hold me for hours like a child, trying to comfort me. I kept hyperventilating and the panic attacks got worse.
A three month therapy saved me. During the first weeks I still felt hopeless. I didn’t know if this free fall would ever stop. Would there ever be a hand that could catch me? All I knew was that IF there came a hand it would be my Creator’s. Men couldn’t save me. Nothing on this earth could fill the void I was feeling.
Who am I?
Since I did the therapy in Germany, I was separated from my husband in a geographical sense. I spent many hours on my own, in the fields, in the woods. Running. Walking. Trying to find myself again. Many nights I lay awake, crying out to God like David, the psalmist. But God seemed silent. I was still full of fear. At some point I texted a friend in the States: “Dearest Cindy, I don’t know what to pray. What am I to say to God?” Her advise was full of wisdom: “Be authentic and real. You don’t have to be anyone but yourself before Him.” As a result of her message, I knelt by the bed that night, crying my eyes out before the Creator, repeating these words: “Here I am, God. I’m at a loss.”
These words made an impact. Actually, looking back, my whole life changed that night. For many years I had felt that there had to be “more”. At the same time I didn’t live my life wholly dedicated to God. I was still in the driver’s seat, so to speak. However, I was full of fear of what would happen if I gave up control. Nevertheless, during that night it felt right to open wide the door of my heart. I was done living my own life. So I laid down my life at Jesus’ feet. Utterly and completely. No turning back. I was so ready for an adventure.
One thing I knew: I would not go back to my old life. The therapy had started to pay off and show first fruits. I had begun to work through my past and wanted to push the “reset” button. Back to zero.
A fresh start
That night, God reached out His hand to me. He had been there all along. But then, I’m pretty certain, that He sat there by my side the whole time, while I was having a wrestling match with myself. Up until this point, I had only read of certain people that had dedicated their lives to God. People that lived devoted lives. People who were courageous enough to live in authenticity and truthfulness. Now I was about to become one of them. And this was the cry of my heart: “Yes to Jesus! 100 %”
Finally I had arrived! God turned the pages in the book of my life and so the adventure began.
I had filed my resignation in the fall of 2010. My family and many of my colleagues and friends shook their heads. Very few people actually comprehended this decision let alone support it. From a human perspective it was crazy! Returning to Germany after 2.5 years in the States with no employment at hand – naive! But my husband and I felt a profound peace settled around us when we made that decision. Before we packed our bags in Virginia, we had another job to finish: Save and repair our marriage. We found a lovely christian counsellor and she was a pearl! We were able to lay a healthy foundation, speak up for ourselves and forgive each other. And so it happened that we boarded that plane holding hands, excited to find out what awaited us in Berlin.
Big in Berlin, or not?
Feel free to find out in detail what happened during the next months in my book “Viereinhalb Wochen – die Geschichte von unserem kleinen Julius” (soon available in English). In short, we arrived in the capital and I got pregnant in no time with our first child. It was pure bliss. At least, for the first fourteen weeks of the pregnancy. Then we found out that our baby was ill. Terminally ill. Four and a half weeks later my husband and I had decided that we would keep our little boy. No abortion. August 23, 2011, Julius Felix was born and after two hours in the arms of his father and mother he passed away.
The weeks and months after our baby’s death were dark. Again, I found myself walking through the fields and woods crying my eyes out. However, there was one major difference this time. I knew that even though it felt like a free fall again, God’s mighty hand would eventually catch me. I had this unshakable faith that God had a good plan after all. This had been one of the biggest gifts of the burnout. This utter peace and conviction that I was in His hands. Safe and sound. Yes, I buried my first child. No, I don’t know why this had to happen.
But every day I live close to my Father’s heart and I love my life.
And then God blessed us with another child. My precious daughter was born in 2013. Alive and kicking. In no time I felt exclusively surrounded by diapers, nursing moms and toddler groups. I was tired, exhausted, overwhelmed with this new world order. Far far away from the life I had anticipated.
One of these mornings I stood in the kitchen, trying to make wise use of the nap time of my girl. I peeled potatoes and watched a sermon online. Suddenly I was overcome by a tremendous loneliness and sadness. I felt unnoticed. Unseen. Minor. I had wanted to change the world for Jesus! I had yearned to use my gifts and talents profitably for the kingdom of God. And now I stood in a kitchen in Berlin and was a stay-at-home mother, an author, a housewife. Really?
Where was my adventure? I sank to my knees in tears. Right there, in my kitchen.
In my anger and disappointment I shouted towards heaven. “Is that it, God? Why did you pull me out of my old successful life? Was it so I could change diapers, peel potatoes and fold laundry? I wanted to do something important and meaningful in your kingdom. My plan was to change the world and fulfil the great commission. I was ready to preach your love and forgiveness!”
And just like that I felt His presence as if He was next to me on the kitchen floor. He spoke these words to my heart: “I see you, my precious daughter. I see your heart. I see your passion, your unwavering love and your longing to serve Me. And right where you are is where I put you. You’re at the center of My will for your life. Trust Me. Put your hand in My hand. Let us walk together, step by step. Season by season.”