Category Archives: Trauma

Horrible things happen, it is the way we react to them that will shape us forever.

Of Love, Mixed Tapes and New Beginnings

leaves
To a tree, tears are life.

Hi, lovely that you popped by. It’s a real nice feeling knowing people take the time to read up on other people’s musings about our journey here on earth. This one has been on my heart for a while, to put it down in writing is a daunting task.

“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”

Henry David Thoreau

Since I started blogging again, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every email wordpress sent me, informing me that  “sleepingbeauty” (not her real name) thought my post was awesome, asking me: Don’t you want to see what she is up to, her latest posts are “the trouble with gnomes” and “witch hunt”. Which I of course did – I mean if somebody takes the time to visit my treehouse, the least I can do is to see what they have been busy with lately!

And wow, I really am impressed. I wished people would share their heart of hearts that easily over a cup of coffee as they do online. Beautiful minds sharing meaningful snapshots, funny moments, thoughts about love, tears and questions to God. You might just restore my faith in human kind again. Just kidding. But seriously, I find myself sitting across people sipping tea wondering: Do we need to play this game of acceptable responses and sweet non-offensive comments a la “ag jinne moeder dis oulik” (Afrikaans for “how sweet”) and what would it take for me to get to your true soul?

river
My last house I lived in overseas was right next to this creek.

It is, alas, the nature of my real life job that leaves people under the impression that they must present themselves in a good light. And no matter how much honesty and irreverent jokes I add to the conversation, how much of my own weakness I reveal, people rather stick with phrases than cut to the chase, unless they expect you to fix a problem that is. In the safety of the anonymity of blogging I have found a lot of heart so far. People are so precious. For the New Year it is my sincere prayer that you might succeed in all your new ventures  together with your lovely partners and friends. Friendship is the most precious gift one human can extend to the other. It must be given freely and received with gratitude.  I am without grudges and would never unfriend anyone. (People are like that these days: you didn’t greet me in the Mall? Let me unfriend you on facebook! – never bothering to first ask the circumstances) I wouldn’t judge without hearing your whole story. And I believe that God sees the “why” as much as the “what”.  To be treated the same is a humble wish.

Starting a new year becomes more and more scary with every year that passed.

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
-Muhammad Ali

Well, honestly, I wish I could go back and see the world the way I did ten years ago. Reality has a way to wipe the smiles off our innocent little snotty faces and put the pain of knowing behind our brave grin.

Blogging on bridging worlds is a kind of self-therapy (for my “I got it all figured out and am traveling the world in confidence” musings check my Traveler’s Log!)

nordhausen
Nordhausen, town of my childhood.

I used to journal since I knew how to hold a pen. My childhood diaries where really precious to me and by the age of 21 I had 18 whole books full of my deepest thoughts, locks of my hair, 1 photo in the same pose per year to mark my changing, letters to my future children from their mom when she was 9, 12 and 15, sketchings and dreams. Then a self-proclaimed voice of the Allmighty told me that God indeed is upset with me taking myself that serious and if I want to be anything in His kingdom, I should show my determination by paying a price – meaning I should

let go of my beloved journals. I did treasure them a lot, if I had a nightmare about a fire I would always try to rescue them in my dream.

You see, since I was little I have wanted to make things better. I used to play watchmaker on the kitchen table while my mom and younger siblings napped, using my dad’s fine mechanics tools to take things apart and put them back together again or try to repair a broken toy etc. I wanted to create a place where I could gather all wounded souls and soothe them back to life. So that is why,  when at the peak of  youthful enthusiasm, a prophet told me that in order to become all God wants me to be I must let go of earthly treasures, I did not doubt. I cried, put my journals into a big cardboard box and left it on the side of the road. A test. If God wants me to have them, they would be there by tomorrow. Of course, it was Wednesday and the garbage people collected them.

I had a serious writer’s block. A “what’s the point” sting hidden deep within my guts.

dandelion
Circle of life…

Let me say it this way: When you are a teenager and love hits you hard first time, you go and make that mixed tape for your crush. Thinking: “If only he listens to these songs he will “get” me, he will be able to hear my soul and forever love who I am”. First loves are most of the time not last loves, like a young wine they bubble and fizz and evaporate as we grow older and wiser. They do leave their mark and do take something with them, though. Forward – college. Love struck again. You find a mixed tape in the mail, and want to return the favour. Sitting on the carpet of your student apartment, surrounded by your favorite sounds, there is an odd soreness in your heart. “Here we go again …” Something deep within wants to hold back, wants to bridle the enthusiasm, wants to warn of another broken heart. It takes discipline this time, to make a mixed tape. It takes a conscious effort to fight away the cynic flies circling around your head. But love beckons …

bench
Coming here … reading a novel …

Later, in our wiser years, we might refrain from making mixed tapes altogether, wiping it away with a laugh. Impossible that anybody could “get” us by merely listening to a piece of music that has touched our soul ever-so-deeply. The longing remains, self-preservation prevails.

At the beginning of yet another year I find myself intensely wanting to throw myself into this adventure of life again, without holding back. Oh yes, the pain was more than I thought I could bear, the disappointments enough to withdraw from the field forever. But ships, although safe in the harbour, are made for sailing. I do not claim that this year I will know better, or that I can guarantee I will succeed. But I know God made us for more than to play it safe. My own pain has given me so much more passion for all those people who have to hide behind a masked smile, and the naked pain of those whose life is in daily peril can not, will not leave me cold.

There are too many voices out there claiming they speak on God’s behalf. They have done a lot of damage to God’s own children. Me dumping the innocent writings of childhood, the passionate life plans of adolescence, has not been the Lord’s request. But people lose so much more over misunderstood religion and false teachers.

A voice in the desert is needed to point to where the oasis is and where the desert ends, which way to find hope and which direction to avoid. But being a true prophet requires a life of true love. The willingness to share the people’s burdens and to take responsiblity for their hearts.

We do want to point out the needs and strength of this nation. But condemnation has no place in the speech of an apostle. Judgement is God’s. Let his people be the force of love that improves life on earth, not makes it unbearable.

So once more I choose to believe that good can be done, that it is not hard to make a difference, that what I got is all that it takes.

Prague29
Prague, an inspiring place of music and arts

When I was little, I prayed to God for a life full of adventure and extraordinary experiences. I also prayed that there would always be people along the way to share the journey with.

So I am trusting my Father in Heaven that this is going to be a better year, a year of lots of joy, lots of people truly helped and lots of genuine smiles and laughter.

New Beginnings indeed.

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Travelling in December – Recreating Christmas Memories

December in South Africa  bridge3

It’s summertime, and the living is easy …

The country almost shuts down as many South Africans use the big summer school break to visit relatives and “kuier by die see” – make holiday stevensamsepiaat the sea. As pastors, we usually stay behind to make sure that those less fortunate have somebody looking after them – right as I write my husband is out solving some serious conflicts. The heavily emotion-laden christmas season causes some people to snap, we see it every year.

Staying home for the summer does by no means mean staying put at home. In our region there are many lovely day destinations and I am going to be blogging about them here: Traveller’s Log. So make sure you pop in to read up on what to do in Limpopo, South Africa. I also wrote about the romantic beauty of spending New Year’s in Capetown, so make sure you don’t miss out on that, not to mention beautiful Franschhoek and all the other lovely South African dream destinations.

My blog is called “Bridging Worlds” for a reason. I have been living between worlds all my life. As a child, I was one of three Christian kids in a Communist school in a Communist nation, carefully watched by the secret service.

Later, I started savoring the freedom end of the cold war brought to my side of the world and started traveling many nations. Living in London, I found out with a shock that the British actually really despise Germans, while I grew up in a country that always spoke fondly of the well-mannered Brits and their disability to cook. I used to, in my youthful naivety, assume that Germans would be loved dearly all over the world, since their deepest meaning and purpose in life is to make things more efficient, reliable and successful. I was startled to find that people in the English-speaking world would not appreciate serious punctuality as much as someone being late, but that with a charming smile. Took me a while to let up on the efficiency for the sake of charm. In the meantime I also had to learn that Germans are about as popular in the world as dark chocolate with red chili pieces – an acquired taste for a select elite, but once you love them, you adore them. The average Joe loves Americans, passionate people love Brazilians, business people fly to Japan and the Intellectual gourmet will get absolutely teary eyed reciting German poetry. So there we have it, everybody strives to drive a fast German car (what a waste on South African highways with a speed limit of 120km/h), loves well-thought-through technology but people wise, the Germans are a very misunderstood little nation.

christmas 157I have come to terms with it and learned to adapt. Ditch the punctuality, make small talk, (waste time at the counter by telling jokes and asking unimportant questions), stop caring so much about the matter and more about the soul. All part and parcel of Bridging Worlds.  As is burying Christmas sentimentality.

If you dare to marry into a different culture, you will always find that similar events are emphasised totally different. I am realistic when it comes to snow, sleigh and choral music – when everyone is at the sea, there wont be any spectacular nativity plays in imposing cathedrals.

christmas 011When raising kids, however, you want to somehow reproduce your own treasured childhood memories. Christmas Markets with countless little stalls roasting almonds, selling home-made crafts, Gluehwein andchristmas 010 gingerbread, children’s choirs singing sweet Hallelujah, giant nativity scenes and the snow glistening. The christmas tree being ceremoniously decorated on the 23rd, the night of the 24th the whole family goes to church, comes back with noses red from the frosty cold, eats a light meal and then a little bell rings and the christmas room opens to the wondrous delight of young and old …

That was Christmas for me in Germany, growing up with three younger siblings and parents who insisted we all gather first to sing christmas carols accompanied by my sister on the piano and myself on the violin.

Now how on Gods good earth do you create that in the humidity of the tropics?

I have not found the answer to this. We decided to create our very own magic. Instead of Christmas markets we have some dear neighbours who cared enough to decorate their houses and yards with elaborate christmas lights, reindeer and Santas. christmas 172So every other night we take our bathed boys in their pyjamas on a drive around town to admire the lights. Sam, our 1-year-old, points excitedly at everything including the traffic light and shouts: da, da da!!! Steven will ask why they hang Santa upside down into a fake chimney. All in all, it’s a happy, crazy outing, our own Christmas tradition.

We decorate our trees the first of December. Since you don’t buy real pine trees in Africa, we have a couple of plastic ones around the house which the kids decorated themselves. Germans truly hate all things plastic. I just go with the flow.

Singing “jingle bells” replaces the deeply moving choruses we knew as children – I haven’t given up on that yet, but let’s have fun with it.

christmas 051    christmas 167 About giving gifts – maybe you know the movie “Valentine’s day” The radio guys says that it is those christmas 09224 hours we have to prove our love for each other. I disagree. Birthdays, Christmasses and the like must not be put under that pressure of having to prove one’s affection. I have waited till this special day to present my boys with some items they really want to have, because we celebrate Jesus’s birthday by giving each other gifts. But please do not try to prove anything by giving me something. Have a conversation over a passionfruit and lemonade with me, listen and tell me your true heart. That means so much more than any item you could buy. Relatives and friends do not need to rush and try to find that life-changing gift basket of soaps and showercaps. I do not think men exactly feel the love when given the annual soap-on-a-pope or the “man-kit” from Game store consisting of  a beer bottle christmas 126opener, soap and a face-cloth. What does that mean anyway???

Every year I wish I can take everyone’s stress away: Please can we not buy each other stuff, can we rather do an excursion to somewhere we haven’t been yet?

So we did buy a few things for a few people, but we focus on rather doing nice things with those we love. Yes I got my husband something and after Christmas I tell you what it is.

December in South Africa is the month of summer break. I think every December we spend here, we will create special memories fitting this awesome,vast nation, by traveling with our boys to new places.

The photos show some German Christmas moments my children have never seen. The last time I was with my parents for Christmas is 7 years ago. It might be time … hopefully if we are lucky, we might even travel to Germany next year, Christmas markets and snow and all …

Sum up 2012 please???

Milestone! Baby year done!
Milestone! Baby year done!

Wow time flies when you are busy.

Someone recently said its the trauma moments in your life that will end up defining who you are.

I don’t hope so. Or maybe it will be the way we reacted to all the trauma what will define who we are busy becoming in the end.

I have started this blog a while ago and lacked time and reason to continue writing. At home I keep beautiful paper blanks journals, written in my indecipherable artistic handwriting. I usually write down funny things the kids did and said, my frustration with the state of the world, and plans, plans plans.

One thing I hope I might get one of these days is a little tablet, from which I can type my life while leisurely sitting on the couch … and being able to READ later what I wrote will be amazing!

My empty new paperblank for 2013 looks green and tempting to start writing those first pages.

A blog on the other hand is exciting, you never know who will read, and you are forced to sort through your own thoughts a little more thorough as you don’t want to spread chaos but enlightenment, sort of.

2012 was the most horrible year of my life. And it was great too, considering that it was the first year with my second son. What a privilege to be the guide to those baby steps of a world changer.

Being a working mom (without a nanny, mind you) puts me in danger of becoming “stuck” in survival mode.

Since I am from a different nation, I also face a lot of prejudice with every step i am trying to take.

In the end I let all the misunderstandings or lets call it gossip 🙂 steal my joy and confidence away. So much so, that I didn’t even try putting together a christmas musical this year. Shame, it’s what I love, putting together a great show. Will do so next year, hopefully. This year I had to learn to let go of insecurity and fear of people.

Almost went off the deep end there for a moment, considering a short cut to heaven after some very discouraging encounters. Well to be honest I went beyond considering. (When you update a post later on, chances are no one in the whole world will ever read it anyway). After a couple of serious nervous breakdowns which were laughed off I thought maybe if I go into a coma someone will take this serious. I need change I cannot possibly go on this way. But I just slept real deep and real long and felt like garbage for a couple of days. The show must go on. No guardian angels, no shortcut to heaven either …

But God  He has a way of sending his angels to give you a good slap in the face when you need it hey!

So here I am, having strategized and drafted and written down road maps for 2013 all day.

My wonderful role as the wife of the pastor of a unique church in South Africa is a challenging one. I am here to facilitate change to the better, to be a visionary and encourager. To push forward and to collect that what falls behind.

God help me!

Sometimes we just need to meet people who energize us afresh, and to take good impulses out of those encounters. It doesn’t mean you need to walk a mile together. Just thankful for every unique being that crosses my path. People are so precious. I need to focus on making real good friends in 2013. The world can’t be changed by a lone lion.

So priorities 2013 include focussing on a good network of friends outside our work circle and getting creative again with the gifts God gave me. Even start writing that book. For now I am busy helping my husband in editing his book and also his prophetic articles for 2013. Sow and you shall reap.

As leaders in our regional network of churches we will focus much more on practically helping the churches around us.

We ourselves struggled through 7 hard years, where nobody was willing to step in and lend a helping hand. We learned to persevere, to not buckle under pressure, to love as much as God loves. He never gives up on no-one. I also learned exactly where my point break is. Wow that’s a good one to learn.

In my heart wells up so much compassion again for my colleagues in the ministry.

Instead of worrying about myself I should focus on what others in the same shoes really need.

Financial worries plagued the church and held us down. Many projects couldn’t be realised because of a lack of funds.

I am more determined than ever to make a difference where I am. So I went on Google Maps to check it out. Limpopo. Doesn’t sound too exciting – but there are soooo many opportunities to help.

I am making this quality decision today, after all the plans are drafted, to keep eyes and heart open for the one that needs help. The lady at the gate asking for bread, the leader of a big ministry that is close to break down, and anyone in between. I have a lot to give and need to be brave.

Thank You Jesus for your abounding grace.