Unexpectedly Grateful

In a few weeks 2019 will be done and dusted and we will be entering a new decade. When you look back at the last ten years of your life, what marks those years? Were they tough, knocking the wind out of you at each turn? Or was it a decade marked with growth? The last decade of my life was a little bit of both. One event that marks this decade was the loss of my sister. Her death is something that I don’t think I will ever truly recover from, however her death is no longer as debilitating as it was when it first happened. My sister passed away shortly before her 33rd birthday, she passed away in October, we buried her in November and a mere 3 weeks later her first birthday without us occurred. It’s something that will stay with me and my family forever, however when I look back at it, I see how Christ has infused His strength through not just this situation but through every difficult situation that I encountered in a decade that in the thick of it, felt marred by difficulty and struggle.

It was in this decade that the United Kingdom Borders Agency (UKBA) incorrectly detained me. I was given nothing more than an apology and while an experience like that would scar the best of us, somehow I found the strength to rebuild my life after an event that felt as though it had stripped so much of my dignity and worth. The maladministration of the UKBA I believe, is what led to is being closed in 2013. I hope to never forget the desperation so clearly visibly on the faces of so many other women who were in there much longer than the three days that I was detained. When the time and opportunity for it comes, I will find a way to help women who are in detention to ensure that they never forget their beauty, their worth and their dignity. In the midst of what felt like a storm that would spit me out with significant bruises, I didn’t see that resilience was being added to my character. I only saw what I could see, which is normal. When you’re going through something, your mental and emotional state of being can be tested and as well-meaning a Christian that you think you are, so much of what is going on around you can cause you to doubt and wonder whether God is just being so rude, and so nasty, allowing all of this mess to carry on in your life.

At the end of this decade going into the next one, I have realised that I am not always going to understand why certain things happen and why God permits it to be so. For years, I have found solace in the words Jesus uttered in John 13:7 “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

I love the explanation of this verse on the ‘Knowing Jesus’ site: ‘When like the apostle Peter, we come face to face with a series of bizarre circumstances that seem to shatter our lives, we may not understand the reason for life’s twists and turns but we can trust Him, knowing that His ways are perfect and His grace is sufficient. Like the disciples on that night before the cross, we may not be comfortable with the shock-horror that we witness or the unjust way that life seem to be unfolding. We may not understand the spiritual significance of all that is happening in our life and the lives of those we care about, but we can trust our heavenly Father for He is still in control. He knows the end from the beginning and all His ways are perfect. Although we may not know the meaning and mystery of all that we are called upon to bear in this world, let us remember that we may not understand what is happening now, but hereafter we shall know as we are known. May we learn as Peter did that what may be shadowed to our understanding today is being used by God to work together for good, to His praise and for our eternal benefit.’

This verse becomes harder to believe when you are on a rollercoaster of unfortunate things happening to you or those you love, but I have concluded that walking with Jesus and going through trials & tribulations (how dramatic sounding), is by far better than not walking with Him. When I was detained by the UKBA, one thing that brought me comfort was the account of Paul and Silas praising God while they were in jail (Acts 16:16-40) and I remember laughing to myself that on that day for some very odd reason, I had taken my Bible with me. In that moment I believe I experienced a taste of what Paul and Silas must have felt; the desperation, the disbelief, the pain, the betrayal that God would have allowed this to happen, and then afterwards the realisation that even still, He remains God. It took me a long time to get over that pain and once I felt that I did, I lost my sister. As I type this I am still in a hazy phase of my relationship with God. There are days when I can easily declare His sovereignty over my life, and then there are days when I wonder how a God so big and so great could have allowed so much to occur not just in my life but in my family’s lives as well. All of these questions always lead me to the same conclusion; God is God and He knows why. I believe God has given us freedom of thought, and is by no way offended by any questions that we may have for Him. How fragile would God be if He was offended by everything we did?

Can you imagine how shaken I was when I realised that God was not offended by me not believing in Him. He loves and pursues relationship with us, but He will never force His way into your life. He’s a gentleman like that. At first this was unsettling but afterwards it brought freedom in my relationship with God, I was no longer scared to bring my raw emotions to Him. Things that I had never spoken to God about (which sounds kinda weird to type, considering He is all knowing…) suddenly came spewing out of my mouth and the pages of my journal. The journey isn’t perfect but it is a lot more authentic.

I close out this decade happier than I thought I would be. I’m married to the most wonderful man, working in a challenging but fulfilling role, and the role I cherish the most: being an aunt to the two most incredible humans. I wonder whether any of this would have been possible had my life not followed the trajectory that it did. I didn’t think I’d be writing this, but I am so grateful that God allowed for my life to play out as it did. As you reflect on the last decade of your life, what are some of the things that you have learnt or have been through that you are unexpectedly grateful for?

Mind The Gap…Long Distance Relationships

Soul mates are not here solely to fulfill your rom-com fantasies. Most are here as teachers. And to help you see where you have given your power away or where you are not being authentic.

Maryam Hasnaa

After spending some time with my bestie, instead of crying on the journey back to South Africa, I used some of that time to write down some thoughts I had swirling around on long distance relationships.

My human and I have been together for 2 years now. There is no other human who is as magical as he is. He is the sweetest part of my life and I love him deeply. The only thing that I would change about our relationship is the fact that we live in different countries. The love of my life lives in the United Kingdom, and I live in South Africa. We see each other every two or so months and while it is hard…harder than hard, there’s no one else for me but him! The past two weeks with my fiancé were nothing short of magical (I promise it’s the last time I use this word…) it was better than I could have imagined.

I’ve had to look at pictures and videos stored on my phone to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream. I can’t explain the pain in my heart that seems to only disappear when I am with him. Each time we part it feels as though the band aid over my heart is ripped off and the days that follow require me to fully immerse myself in busy activity to prevent an extraordinary amount of moping…and maybe some crying!

Growing up in church I recall a group of women I encountered in my twenties who had a prayer group with their sole focus being to find a husband. While I appreciated and understood why they formed the group, I knew that for me the focus needed to be internal. In fact a lot of the time in my relationship with the most magical man ever, I find that I often have to search inwardly before looking to him for anything. I wanted God to change me and I firmly believed that when I was ready, the man for me would be too. The most important thing to do when single is to work on yourself. The work doesn’t end when you get in a relationship. I want to be the best partner for my darling fiancé and we’re all our best when we’re content and at home in our skin.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have hiccups, I like to think I’m perfect but I’m not. However we’ve learnt and are still learning to communicate with each other in better ways for the other person to understand. I am absolutely besotted with this man and that I believe is the key to making a long distance relationship work…matching as often as you can is also key 😂

Don’t look at the negatives 🎞 they will eventually develop to discontent and dissatisfaction in your relationship. Believe that you are with the best person for you, that is true for anything in life. If you believe that you’ve got it good, you’re less likely to nitpick and find things to be unhappy about.

My love, you have been the best gift God has thus far given me. You have taught me so much about myself that I didn’t know. You light a fire in me that gives me the courage to pursue my passions and stand in my truth and convictions on unashamed and courageously, you have managed to pour water and quell the wildfires of insecurity and immaturity. There is no one I love more than you. I will always fight for us and never against you. I will always protect your reputation and your character. I fall in love with you more and more each day. The fact that I get to do life with you is a gift I will always be grateful for.

Yummy!!!

It’s All Good

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.
I cried because it was too late.
I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn’t know
that my soul knew everything that I needed to know.
I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.
In the midst of my crying,
I felt my freedom coming,
Because…

Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda.

Iyanla Vanzant

It’s getting closer and closer to the time of the year that my sister passed away almost two years ago. During this time of the year, I am a hot mess. During this time of the year my body seems to give into stress, anxiety and nervousness a lot easier. During this time of the year, my body gravitates towards chaos and the collapse that ensues. As I write this I am seated at TreeHouse Juicery patiently (but not really) waiting for my connecting flight to the UK. I am EXHAUSTED. I haven’t slept in hours and the only thing keeping the crazy in, is the fact that I’ve eaten. No sleep & no food is a recipe for disaster that nobody is ready for.

I have felt a mixture of emotions these last few days.. I think about a time in life when my older sister was the only one who believed that I’d be going to the UK again soon. This was after having my first visa application being rejected because LUSH weren’t paying me enough as their product trainer. I remember my manager making it seem as though it was my fault that I hadn’t obtained the visa and then my sister very clearly giving me a pep talk and reminding me that LUSH were to blame, not I. In any case there were a lot of things I was going through at the time that my sister just seemed to know how to take care of. I am trying to celebrate her each year as opposed to mourning her, and this year I am celebrating her life by running a marathon. I don’t know that she would have done it with me but I like to think of her resilient spirit spurring me on through the discomfort and pain that long distance runs bring, her resilient spirit telling me ‘baby girl, it’s all good!’

Let’s Stay Together: 5 Tips on Loving the One You’re With

A couple of years ago while living in the UK, I was in a relationship with a sweet BUT just not right for me, man. He would say yes to everything I wanted, and I wanted to wear the pants. After a while it got tiring being the one who called the shots, what I wanted was a partner who was my equal. DISCLAIMER: We were both young and terribly emotionally immature, I had a very warped expectation of what a relationship should look like. Eventually that relationship ended and I carried on with my life very happily, perhaps too happily as a single woman for my mom’s liking. So accustomed to singleness did I become that I had already planned how I’d have children on my own, very much like J.Lo in ‘The Back-Up Plan’.

Image result for the back up plan

I’d been single for 5 years when my paths crossed with the boy, (insert drool emoji here!) In their post engagement interview, Prince Harry said that he knew Meghan was the one due to the fact that he fell in love with her so quickly. While the cynics may roll their eyes at that, because it happened to me when I started speaking to the boy, I can honestly say that it’s true when people say you just know when you’ve met the person you intend to spend forever with. A lady that I follow on Twitter posted on how she viewed her marriage as a contract (in some aspects all marriages are I suppose.) She also stated that she did not marry her husband for love and that regardless of who her husband ended up being, she would have learnt to love him. I’m 50/50 with that comment, largely due to the fact that no matter how many times I told myself that I should try to make it work with my ex, I just couldn’t convince myself to love him truly, deeply and unconditionally.

Love, true unconditional love I should say, is a magic formula that shows such as ‘Married at First Sight’ (MAFS) have been unable to replicate. In fact, I think MAFS is the perfect example of what it looks like when a relationship is void of love and chemistry. Relationships like those while very exciting in the beginning soon hit a wall due to the lack of affinity that the people involved have for each other. I don’t believe that loving someone guarantees a relationship will work, you’ve gotta put in the grunt work and be as kind, compassionate, caring and loving as you want your partner to be. The 80/20 rule is absolute trash to live by on a daily basis as it means that one partner will always be picking up the slack. Yes, there are moments when we lean a little bit more on our partner BUT that should not be the norm. Not only can that be exhausting for the partner who constantly fills the 80% role, but it is also unhealthy and is not sustainable. In November it’ll be 2 years with the boy although it does feel like we’ve been together forever, and I can’t imagine being with anyone else. The secret to us still being together, (and in the future staying married) isn’t in occasionally wearing matching t-shirts, but in the tips listed below!

  • Be as honest as possible and don’t mince your words. The boy and I are never nasty to each other, in fact we’re still a touch awkward when it comes to calling out the other person on jerky/stressed/silly/etc. behaviour. Truth delivered to better and encourage your partner to grow is different to truth delivered to cut and belittle. To illustrate this, I have a little story, which I am hoping S will not mind that I have shared. The last six months have been incredibly stressful for me, personal issues coupled with not having a car, and the ridiculous amount of money being spent on transport, turned me into a bit of a grump. Add to that having not been able to train for a just under two months and you have the perfect recipe for one short-tempered, unhappy and borderline unpleasant girlfriend. One evening I was telling S how upset I was and imagine my surprise when he told me that lately all I’d been doing was talking about all the things that were going wrong in my life and not really focussing on any steps that I could take to change what is in my hand to influence. If the boy thought that would make me feel better, he was dead wrong! It upset me further and if I was the cussing kind, the boy would’ve gotten it. Once I had cooled down and looked at things with a clarity of mind, I realised that the boy was right. I was looking at all the things that were going wrong and dumping it all on him, which meant that our conversations where always tinged with the stress coloured brush that I felt was following me everywhere. The next day I told the boy of the things that I could control and what I’d be doing differently. Instantly the sun shone again on our relationship and I learnt the valuable art of listening to your partner even when those words of honesty seem too brutally honest.
  • Your partner is not your therapist. I veer on the side of caution with this point, and sometimes under-communicate because I never want to overwhelm the boy with the stress that could potentially come from whatever I am dealing with. I am grateful that I have a partner who is so good at reading when I am not okay. I struggle with admitting that I am not okay and I am working hard at reeling myself back in, and being at peace with myself. It is important to not get complacent and stop studying yourself. The more at peace you are with yourself, the more at peace you will be with other people. Don’t neglect the inner work that you should be doing to be whole/ok on your own.
  • Love yourself first. This is probably the most important one and one that I believe is often overlooked. Thankfully with things such as the body positivity movement, we’re all learning to be kinder to ourselves and not looking for completion or filling of whatever hole we’re dealing with, elsewhere. I’ve had countless conversations with the boy on health challenges I want to do, hairstyles I want to try, skincare products I want to try etc. Each time he is always incredibly supportive and tells me that I don’t need to change anything (aww). To which I’m sure I’ve replied more than once, ‘I know, but I want to.’ I think it’s important to be happy with who you are as a person, learn to cultivate happiness from within and as much as possible, refrain from treating your partner as a clown who is only there to make/keep you happy. Happiness is an inside job!
  • Listen, listen and listen again! This is the hardest especially when you’ve already decided (in your head), what your partner meant when he said whatever silly thing that men are very prone to saying. I try to remind myself that listening to understand and not listening to respond, pays much more dividends into our relationship piggy bank. I don’t have much else to add to this tip because I’m still learning haha!
  • Choose your partner on a daily basis. A couple of months (or maybe earlier in our relationship), S and I spoke about marriage, kids, a farm where I’d be able to keep pet pigs and neither of us flinched at the thought of forever with one person. I think there’s a real magic in having found the person that I am so sure of. There isn’t anything that could make me run…now I’m not talking about being silly and ignoring red flags because trust me if any toxic traits were exhibited in our relationship, I would RUN FOR THE HILLS. There aren’t any red flags, and while I look forward to calling him my husband and baby daddy in the future, I also know that until we cross that threshold, I am 110% committed to this man. Commitment is a word forgotten in today’s ‘try before you buy’, generation. I have zero interest in trying anyone else and feel rather pleased with myself for having been found by the person who I will be entertaining (for countless years) with very bad impressions of him and Southern American accents. It doesn’t get any better than that!

If you have any winning relationship tips, share in the comments!

Audit, Analyse, Attack!

Today is not a significant day. I am not celebrating any special occasion, it is not my birthday (sadly) but as I sit in front of my laptop, I am inspired by a quote I read recently on Twitter:

If you aren’t seeing the progress in your life that you want, then take the initiative to audit your life, analyse your daily habits and actions, and reassess your goals as necessary, this winning in life thing takes deliberate effort, it doesn’t just magically happen.

I am slap bang in the middle of a study I am part of at work… I say slap-bang but it feels like I have just started. If you follow me on Instagram…why would you not? You will have seen my updates on the dried blood spot specimens I am collecting. The tally stands at 16…only 384 more to go. My workweek is spent travelling to hospitals that are a stretch to get to. I sometimes get home feeling as though I have given the best of me to the earlier part of my day. It is rewarding work but it is also hard work.

Lately while taking internal stock (something we should all do,) I realised that more than my workload, my mind-set was what was leaving me more fatigued than I needed to be. I have had to train myself into believing that I have just as much to give at the end of the day, as I do at the start of it when I’m as fresh as a daisy. I learn everyday what it means to give 110% to everything that I do, regardless of the working hours. It is about applying the strong work ethic and spirit of excellence in everything I do. One hundred and ten percent in being a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, an athlete, a blogger… the list is endless. Did you notice that I didn’t include my job title? Life and the effort you put in it, is about more than what your job title is. It is important to find a work-life balance that does not leave you overworked and always just on the verge of burning out only just being saved by a holiday.

On holiday in my favorite city, Cape Town!

One of the things that I often times allow myself to be burnt out by, is finances. It is something that even if I don’t say it… (I mean hello why would you speak about your finances to every Tom, Dick and Harry.) I’m thinking about it and in months where there’s a lot going on, I tend to obsess over it, more specifically, lack of money.

pinterest // @ lovecaitx

Some of it is down to my anxiety-riddled personality but most of it is because of my childhood when we really struggled to make ends meet. I am learning to manage it and one person who has helped me through my neuroses, is my boyfriend. He is the most handsome, kindest, most caring human that I have ever met and I cannot think of anyone better to procreate with haha! I cannot wait to have little ones who have ALL of his kindness and none of my sarcasm tempered into their cute little personalities.

Aside from the gorgeous boy, here are a few of my rules to live by:

  • Your health is, and should be your highest priority. Here’s the caveat: if any part of your life, exercise included fills, you with anxiety and you no longer enjoy it, stop doing it and switch to something else. Shortly after my sister passed away, the last place I wanted to go to was the box. Instead of CrossFit, I ran and when I was ready for CrossFit, guess what? The box was still there.
  • Self-care is more than a facemask. Self-care is therapy; self-care is journaling in order to have an outlet for managing not erasing your emotions. Self-care is putting your health first, all aspects of it: mental, physical and spiritual.
  • Find your tribe and love them hard. This one is a funny one because the people that know me would probably say that I hate people…I don’t hate people, I just prefer to surround myself with people that I TRULY enjoy being around. There is no point in being friends with people who make you feel crappy about yourself.
  • Having a schedule that you discipline yourself to stick to, will go a VERY long way towards keeping you sane. I wake up at the same time every single day, and I try to get to bed at the same time. Currently I am working on a routine for my eating and training because I have come to the realisation that my life revolves around 3 things: eating, training and sleeping.
  • Setting small goals is a lot better than having one big chunky goal that fills you with anxiety. When I went back to academia, I felt like I knew nothing, which is impossible because everybody knows something even if it is the lyrics to the theme song of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I told myself that I would read for an hour and a half each day…by the 30-minute mark, I was thinking about how much time I had left and not at all focussing on the material that was in front of me. I changed my goal to reading two journal articles per night. This was a greater success and a goal that I have been able to stick to.  
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. I had an almost two year stint working at LUSH South Africa as their product & brand trainer. Working at LUSH meant that everyday when interacting with customers, you had to put on your bravest AND most fun face. No one wanted to listen to a walking encyclopedia, instead you had to play up to the innovation of the products. It was tough not just because you were on your feet the whole day but because of the fact that no matter what you were facing, the minute those roller doors went up, you put on your smiley face. Life is a bit like that too isn’t it? The show must go on…
The opening of the LUSH store in Cresta had me and my then regional manager Yvé completely naked underneath our aprons to highlight the Naked Campaign celebrating the package free products at LUSH. You had to put on your bravest face, smile, and just have fun with it! Would I ever do anything like that again…maybe!

The biggest take home message is this: when all else, fails, have a second, a third and if necessary, a fourth look at the steps you took to get to where you are. What do you need to audit, what do you need to analyse and what do you need to put into action? You can achieve great things, but you have to hate the comfort zone.

How Long, O Lord?

Over the last couple of weeks, as consistently as I can which in all honesty has been MEGA hard, I have been doing the Bible in One Year devotional. This year an area that I want to grow more in, is my spiritual walk and relationship with God. We’ve heard it so many times before ‘I want to be just like Jesus.’ Each time I’ve said it, I’ve meant it. You would think that would make it easier right? Wrong! Life gets in the way, you fall off the wagon, you get back on the wagon. You fall off again, you get back on. It’s a seemingly never-ending cycle but one that I am willing to go through over and over again if it means that each time I’m ‘on the wagon’, I’m closer to God and hopefully the trips off the wagon will be less frequent.

The text below was my devotional from yesterday. Nicky and Pippa Gumbel are pastors at Holy Trinity Brompton, a spirit-filled Anglican church that I had the pleasure of attending when I lived in the UK. The thing that keeps me grounded is my belief in God. Over the past three years, life has felt hard. I’ve had moments where perhaps I haven’t had anything that I should be sad about, yet I have largely felt unfulfilled. Slowly that has begun to change and I am re-discovering the strength in me that came from spending time with Jesus. This was day 22 of the Bible in a year (I am a little bit behind). I had to share this word with you. My prayer is that if you are in the waiting; a place where you’re wondering when things will change for you whether physically or spiritually, why God is taking so long, may He fill you with all that you need to endure if enduring is what is needed, or to see the way out. I pray that you would be strengthened in Christ and would find joy in the midst of whatever you are facing.

Day 22: Bible in One Year

Have there ever been times in your life when you have found yourself wondering, ‘How long, O Lord?’ How long will these struggles and disappointments last? How long will we have these financial difficulties? How long will these health issues persist? How long will the difficulties in this relationship last? How long will I struggle with this addiction? How long will these intense temptations last? How long will it take me to get over this loss?

Pippa and I sometimes visit St Peter’s Brighton, one of our church plants. At the end of one service, a woman came up to us and told us that for thirty-seven years she had been praying for her husband to find faith in Christ. For all those thirty-seven long years, she had cried out, ‘How long, O Lord, how long?’ (Psalm 13:1).

When St Peter’s reopened in 2009, her husband decided he would like to start coming to church with her. The moment he walked into St Peter’s, he felt he had come home and had been ‘reborn’. Now he loves the church and comes every week. Throughout our conversation she kept repeating, with a huge expression of joy on her face: ‘How long, O Lord, how long?’ God had heard. At last, her prayers were answered.

Four times in quick succession David cries out, ‘How long…?’ (vv.1–2).

There are periods when it appears that God has forgotten us (v.1a). It seems that he has hidden his face (v.1b). For some inexplicable reason, we don’t sense his presence with us. Every day seems to be a struggle – wrestling with our thoughts (v.2a). Every day brings sorrow (v.2b). We seem to be losing the battle and the enemy seems to be triumphing over us (v.2c).

How should you respond in times like these?

Psalm 13:1-6

Keep going

David’s example suggests four things that you should continue to do during difficult times:

Keep praying
David continues to cry out to God, ‘Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes’ (v.3). He pours out his heart to God. Don’t give up praying even when God seems far away.


Keep trusting
‘But I trust in your unfailing love’ (v.5a). ‘I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms’ (v.5a, MSG). It is relatively easy to have faith when things are going well, but the test of faith is when things do not appear to be going well.


Keep rejoicing
He does not rejoice in the trials, but in God’s salvation. He says, ‘my heart rejoices in your salvation’ (v.5b). ‘I’m celebrating your rescue’ (v.5b, MSG).

Keep worshipping
In spite of everything he has been through, David is able to see the goodness of God: ‘I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me’ (v.6). He remembers all that God has done for him.
As you begin to praise and worship God, it brings perspective to your problems. Sometimes, I find it helpful to look back on my life and thank the Lord for bringing me through so many of my own personal struggles, disappointments and bereavements, and to remember how, through it all, ‘he has been good to me’ (v.6).

Lord, I worship you today. Thank you for your goodness to me. For all the battles ahead, I trust in your unfailing love.

Matthew 15:10-39

Keep following Jesus

Delay does not negate the promises of God. God does not always change our situations immediately. Sickness and suffering will not finally be eradicated until Jesus returns. These stories, and our experiences of miracles and healings, are a foretaste of what will happen then.

The goodness of God is revealed supremely in Jesus. Once again, in this passage, we see the amazing goodness of Jesus and how to deal with sin, sickness and suffering.

Keep renewing your mind
Jesus says that our problem is not about superficial things, such as what we eat (v.11). Food goes in and out of your body (v.17). The things that harm you come from inside – ‘what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart’ (v.17 MSG). The real issue is sin in the heart: ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make you “unclean’ (vv.19–20a).

The challenge of Jesus’ words is that while we may not have committed murder or adultery, all of us fall at the first hurdle. The very first attribute that Jesus mentions is ‘evil thoughts’. The solution to our sin is not external rituals, as the Pharisees were suggesting. Only God can change my heart. I need the help of his Holy Spirit to transform and purify me.

Keep praying for healing
There are few things more painful than seeing your own children suffering. The Canaanite woman’s daughter was ‘suffering terribly’ (v.22). This mother must have cried out in her heart, ‘How long, O Lord?’ But she kept on asking for healing and refused to be discouraged by the fact that Jesus did not seem to be answering her request. ‘She came and, kneeling, worshipped him and kept praying, Lord, help me!’ (v.25, AMP).

Jesus saw that she had ‘great faith’ and he healed her daughter (v.28). He went on to heal ‘the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others’ (v.30).


Keep acting on behalf of the hungry
Not only does Jesus deal with the issue of sickness (v.22 onwards), he also cares deeply about suffering caused by hunger. He says, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry’ (v.32).

Jesus is able to do a lot with a very little. With the small amount of food given to him, he feeds the crowds. If you give him your life and resources, however small they may seem to you, he is able to multiply them and use them greatly.

If Jesus cared so much about temporary hunger, how much more must he care about the hundreds of millions of people in the world today who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. As followers of Jesus we are called to act on their behalf.
Surely everybody would approve of Jesus. But no. The Pharisees were offended (v.12) when they heard him. If even Jesus offended people by what he said, do not be surprised if some people are offended by what you say in his name.

Lord, give me your compassion for suffering people. Come, Holy Spirit.

Genesis 43:1-44:34

Keep hoping

Jacob could have cried out, like David: ‘How long, O Lord?’ (Psalm 13:1a). His sufferings seemed to go on and on. He had been grieving for his lost son for over twenty years. Now there was a severe famine (Genesis 43:1) and he faced the prospect of losing his much-loved Benjamin. He asked, ‘Why did you bring this trouble on me…?’ (v.6). He says, almost in resignation, ‘As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved’ (v.14).

Eventually, Jacob simply had to trust God and let go of his son Benjamin. When he did so, things worked out. Very often it is not until we let go and commit a situation into the Lord’s hands – perhaps fearing the worst – that God works it all out.

The writer of this section of Genesis is a brilliant storyteller. He draws out the agony. Judah knows that if his father loses Benjamin – as well as Joseph – it would probably kill him. He speaks of the ‘misery that would come upon my father’ (44:34). All the while, we – the readers – know that Joseph is actually still alive and that through it all his dreams are being fulfilled (43:26–28). Joseph is ‘deeply moved’ and has to look for ‘a place to weep’ (v.30).

Joseph puts his brothers to the test. Judah is a changed man. Earlier he had callously sold his brother into slavery (37:26–27). Now he is willing to give his life to save his brother: ‘Let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy’ (44:33).

Through all the unexpected twists and turns of these events, God is at work, bringing about his purpose. He is always working on your character and enabling you one day to look back and say, ‘the Lord… has been good to me’ (Psalm 13:6).

Jacob had to send his ‘only’ (‘he is the only one left’, Genesis 42:38) son Benjamin to save the whole family. As we read this through the eyes of the New Testament we are reminded that God sent his only Son, Jesus, to save us.

Lord, thank you for sending Jesus to save me. In the difficult times, when I am crying out, ‘How long, O Lord?’, help me to keep going, following Jesus, praying, trusting, rejoicing, worshipping and putting my hope in you.

Pippa Adds

Genesis 43:1–44:34

This passage is very moving and leaves us on a cliff-hanger. So much hurt, jealousy, deceit and unkindness. Joseph tests the brothers to see what is in their hearts: Have they changed? Do they regret their actions? When Joseph saw his brothers bow down, he must have been so tempted to say, ‘Remember those dreams…? Didn’t I tell you…?’ But he didn’t. Some things are revealed for our own encouragement or to pray about, but are better not said to others.

Verse of the Day

‘But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation’ (Psalm 13:5).

Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

References

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Letters to All the (White) Boys I’ve Loved Before…

DISCLAIMER: I’ve used the featured image for this post in another post on this blog where I spoke about something else that girls with melanin often struggle with…hair. If you want that post click here and it’ll open in a new tab for your reading pleasure!

Growing up, I never thought much about race but when you’re growing up in post-apartheid South Africa, it doesn’t matter if you don’t think about race, other people will do that for you. My first 2 years of high school I had a massive crush on this guy called Paolo and as most crushes go, I didn’t say anything. It was simpler that way. Eventually, I grew in confidence and decided that this was it, sure he didn’t really know who I was, did he even know my name? There was enough time for us to become high school sweethearts and live happily ever after once we’d matriculated. Looking back on it I realize that I was a bat crazy teen. How had I constructed a future with someone I didn’t even know let alone had a conversation with? I’m twenty-eight now and while I wish the younger me had this sage wisdom, guess what? She didn’t! Fast forward to grade 10 and convincing myself that I had received enough signs from the universe that Paolo and I were meant to be, I decided to write him a 4-page letter. Just kidding, it wasn’t 4 pages, I just felt like putting in an Aaliyah reference. I wrote this boy (that I hardly knew) a letter chronically when I had first seen him. It was at prize-giving, I sat behind him and thought ‘wow he has a lovely head of curly hair. Gotta have him!’ Okay maybe that last phrase didn’t feature. I wouldn’t say I’m the smartest person in the world but I am a hard worker and in high school for a boy to have taken my attention away from the books, he had to be special.

He wasn’t special and neither were his friends. Teenage boys are not known for their maturity and Paolo and his friends were no different. He showed the letter I had written to him to all of his friends and they’d make comments here and there about my crush on Paolo. The more he behaved like a jerk, the easier it was to get over him. I would love to say teenage wisdom kicked in and I learned from that occasion BUT I didn’t. My next crush was on his friend Wayne. Wayne was different, I was convinced. For one I actually knew him properly and had exchanged more than just a word or two with him, in contrast to Paolo who was a lot more serious, Wayne was funny and made not just me, but the whole class laugh. He was different, and at a school where I wasn’t black enough for the black girls because I wasn’t South African black, and was too black for the white girls, he made me feel like I fitted in somewhere. It took a while for me to admit that I had a crush on him but when I was ready to, I was convinced it was reciprocal. I’d helped him with homework before, I had his number, who remembers the good old days of the pioneer to WhatsApp, Mxit? It never felt as though he was ashamed of being seen talking to me. I sometimes felt that way around certain people. I went back and forth with the decision to tell him how I felt, between that time he had a girlfriend, meanwhile, I waited in the shadows (…jk not really in the shadows because South Africa in summer will burn your skin off) for my turn. When he broke up with his girlfriend, we would speak a lot more frequently on Mxit, he would say that I meant a lot to him and that is all a teenage girl foolishly in love needs to hear to believe that her crush loves her too. I waited a couple more weeks before I made my move, after all, I didn’t want to be a rebound, rebounds are only cool when you’re doing ROMWOD.

I should have learnt from that incident with Paolo to stop with the letters BUT I didn’t. I wrote him a letter and gave it to him when school had ended. My friends and I watched as he read it, waited for a reaction and then watched in teenage shock and disbelief as he crumpled it and threw it in the bin Things were altered from that moment. We hardly spoke at school yet on Mxit, you’d swear we were the best of friends. I was happy to get anything from him but it felt as though I was living a lie (so many teenage dramatics). At least he hadn’t told his friends, right? WRONG! The fact that he didn’t show his friends the letter (mainly because I had salvaged the letter and tore it in a million pieces!) didn’t mean that he hadn’t told them about it. A couple of days later, the taunts began. The highlight was when my friends and I were walking past him and his friends and they threw banana peels at us. I am the biggest advocate of not using race as an excuse for my behavior or anyone else’s behavior. My last resort in any situation is to call someone racist and while my friends had warned me against Wayne. I didn’t want to believe them. I didn’t want to believe that in post-apartheid South Africa, there were people that existed who would draw closer to you, or keep away from you, based on the amount of melanin you had in your skin.

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Confession time: I’ve used this picture in a blog post before but it goes so well with the latest post on my blog (link in the bio,) so I have ZERO shame in recycling this pic. . . . A funny but serious post à la Taylor Swift’s popular method of naming & shaming 😂 to all the (white boys,) I’ve loved before, that didn’t think my melanin was magic 🤷🏾‍♀️ As we approach another year of elections in South Africa, I’ve noticed that racial tensions are heating up again 🔥🔥🔥. Globally it seems we’re living in a climate where for the most part the sentiment is anti-immigrant and/or anti-anyone who doesn’t look like me. I hope this post sheds just a little bit of light on the importance of honest & open racial conversations ALWAYS with the intent to unite. Let me know what you think or if you have any embarrassing romantic escapades that you desperately need to get off your chest! . . Can’t believe there are people who don’t believe black girls (or people of any other colour or race) rock. In my best Naija movie accent; foolish! Kick those people to the curb 👋🏽 . . #positivity #fitspo #fitspiration #lifestyle #fitnessblogger #bloggingcommunity #melaninmagic #blog #igdaily #community #inspiration #blackgirlsrock #fitnessblog #encouragement #motivation #loveWins #happiness #strong #bloggers #instadaily #race #melanin #blogger #Interracialrelationships #beYou #acceptance #relationships

A post shared by Aurélie Ariel Stevenson 🇨🇩 🇧🇪 (@aurelie_ariel) on

This incident opened my eyes to the reality of inter-race relations in South Africa. There was work yet to be done. On that day when the banana peels were thrown at my friends and me, it didn’t feel like a typical ‘stupid teenage boy’ thing to do. It felt racially motivated and an act that as I think of it now, sent the indirect message of who did I think I was? A black girl brave enough or perhaps in their eyes, foolish enough to think a white boy could ever be interested in her. I began to see things differently from that moment and thankfully it was my last year in South Africa before I started university in the UK.

London was different. There it felt as though while people saw my race, I wasn’t my race if that makes sense. Does it? I was lucky enough that for the most part when I encountered a rude person, it wasn’t because of my race that they were being rude to me, but because that person was honestly just a crummy person. The attention from the gorgeous Polish tennis players was also nice 😉 I could freely speak to people of all races and never once felt as though there were indirect/subtle jabs being made about my race and what anyone thought I deserved based on that. This time when I had a crush, I made sure that it was crystal clear that my crush was interested in me and I said goodbye to the letters. At that time, it felt as though my race didn’t matter and it was refreshing. Fast forward to 2019 and not too many other romantic or rather embarrassing escapades to write about, I find myself head over heels in love with the sweetest man who is not the same race as I am, yet makes an attempt at understanding and learning about the struggles of being a black foreigner…mostly because I rant a considerable but not unhealthy amount to him haha!

Globally, there is a wave of racism that is somewhat surging. The general sentiment is very much anti-immigrant/anti-foreigner/anti-anyone who is not like me. As someone who has never been a born & bred national of the countries I have lived in, it is something impossible for me to ignore. It is something that is painful to witness. On all sides, tensions are high and while we remain busy blaming the other side (whatever the other side looks like for you) for all the problems we have, we will never be able to see how we can move forward.

Through love, tribes have been intermixing colors to reveal a new rainbow world. And as more time passes, this racial and cultural blending will make it harder for humans to side with one race, nation or religion over another.


Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

I have often heard the phrase ‘I don’t see race’, to which I say don’t be stupid! It is impossible to ignore someone’s race and in my eyes, I think it foolish. Openly transparent conversations need to happen where we say ‘I see your race but I will not define you by your race. I am willing to learn about your experiences.’ There needs to be a greater acceptance that some experiences will be limited to race. There are things that I have and will experience as a black female that my boyfriend will never have to. Some of them funny things like detangling my afro hair, and others less funny like having to deal with the suspicious glances or conversation that arises when someone sees your passport.

Differences are not meant to divide us, they should unite us in common thinking resulting in action on how we can make things better for each other, where we all benefit. We have to open to learning, understanding and realizing that maybe, just maybe: WE DON’T KNOW IT ALL!

Live, laugh, cry, repeat.

There’s nothing that has changed my life more than the passing of my sister. She was my best friend, she was straightforward, had the best advice and when she hugged me, she would always go over my 5 second limit. I’m so glad that in her last days, I got to tell her that I love her and hug her for longer than my usual 5 seconds.

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There’s so much that I miss about her. Her warm (long) hugs, her calls and messages to tell me that she was thinking about me, that she loved me or that she was proud of me. One of these ‘I’m proud of you,’ messages came when I was straight out of uni, unable to find a job. I was like ‘gurrrrl, what are you seeing? There is nothing in my life that warrants being proud of.’  My sister then proceeded to remind me of the strength that I had in me, the strength I have in me. She was the one who would help me to see things rationally and with a new perspective. By nature, I am very emotional…just ask my CrossFit coach but somehow my sister Nadege would always remind me to not allow my emotions to lead me. Never make a decision when you’re angry or overly emotional. Whenever she said that, I did not always receive it well. It sometimes felt as though she was telling me to get over myself and sometimes when you want to sulk about life to your older sister, it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear. At times it would feel as though she wanted me to accept whatever situation I was facing and detach myself emotionally. I’ve come to realise that that wasn’t what she was saying. Emotions aren’t evil but being controlled by your emotions was a whole different ball game and potentially dangerous.

What she wanted me to learn was to stop allowing my emotions to control my reaction to every situation or to every annoying person haha. Sometimes you need to give yourself a time out to better assess a situation without the cloudiness of mind that being overly emotionally can bring. I will spend the rest of my life thinking and probably writing about all the lessons that I learnt from my beloved sister. Her life motto was to keep going even when you want to stop, she was relentless and the bravest person I knew.

Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you. The reason for that counsel is 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed . . . about those who are asleep” — about those who have died — “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” So, there’s real grieving, which he expects, and there’s hope. Grieving is real, losses are real, pain is real — really felt, really expressed — and hope is real that changes it profoundly. John Piper

It’s a year since she’s passed and we’re all still learning how to live, laugh, cry and repeat the whole cycle again without her. In the thick of it all, I am constantly being reminded that there is hope, and that as John Piper puts it, changes things profoundly.

Everything, Everything

I’ve been itching to write this post from the minute I left Cape Town. If ever there was a time I wish time machines were real, this trip is it! There isn’t a single moment of this trip that wasn’t perfect and filled with so many beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.

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This trip was the first to the Mother City that didn’t involve work. Previously I worked as the product and brand trainer for Lush SA, and my trips to the Cape involved lovely store visits but sadly very minimal beach time. So when my SO* and I planned this holiday about 3 months in advance, to say I was excited is a massive understatement. There isn’t much that can rival uninterrupted time with my heart’s best friend. I will gladly follow this man anywhere and luckily for me, he asked me to follow him to Cape Town. My dreamy man got there two days before I did which gave him time to do a little bit of exploring on his own, although I think he had heaps more fun when I got there.

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For accommodation, high up on my list of priorities was cleanliness. This was my/our first time using AirBnb and I was nervous as to whether what was advertised would be what was given to us.  The first apartment we stayed in was clean but bare in terms of how it had been decorated. We had to leave after a series of unfortunate, and maybe just unlucky incidents. The remainder of our stay was spent at a quirky studio at Holyrood, a bubblegum pink building that was built in 1939. I wish I had taken more pictures of the building but I was too busy staring at the boy. One thing that did make the boyfie and I chuckle was the description on the AirBnb page;Loved by travelers from United Kingdom · 100% of guests from United Kingdom who stayed here recently gave this home a 5-star rating.’ And as luck would have it, the boy (who is from the UK,) really loved it. 

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The apartment though quaint, quirky and with a few questionable paintings which we temporarily took down, was clean, cosy, and had ridiculously beautiful views of Table Mountain. The view (and the company,) made it worth it. It was also positioned not too far away from Long Street which is famous for its restaurants and cafés. Across the street was the Company Garden’s which again just added to the magic of this holiday.

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I am a simple girl; give me food, love, water and I’m okay. During this holiday, the boy gave me all of this and more. Being together is probably what has made Cape Town our favorite city. We did a lot of eating and while we had both planned to do some running while on holiday, only one of us managed a 4k run…SPOILER ALERT!!! It wasn’t him. The lack of exercise aside, this was thee most perfect holiday I have ever had and I’d gladly do it again. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m going to be a soppy, corny mess for the rest of my life because I’ve truly found the one that makes my heart happiest. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t wake up feeling like I’d won the jackpot…#blessed! I’ve never laughed as much as I did on this trip, smiled wholeheartedly and have been so relaxed. I don’t take it for granted that I’ve found the mirror image of my soul. He’s perfect for me in every single way.

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The boy and I had a great time in Cape Town getting to know each other and yes, as I mentioned before, a lot of eating! As much as we tried to keep our choice of restaurants varied, we kept going back to one place: Stacked Diner. This place is in my opinion Cape Town’s best kept secret. I’m giving myself full credit for having discovered it but I’m almost certain that it was the boy who found it. He has a knack for finding gems 😉 The only thing I was interested in was that they serve breakfast all day, what could be better than that?

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The first time we went, the boy ordered waffles with maple syrup and bananas, along with French toast. I ordered their buttermilk flapjacks with bananas and caramel sauce. Nine times out of ten, I much preferred what the boy had ordered. In fact, throughout this trip, everything that he ordered was way better than mine…except for the night that he had loads of garlic on his pizza. We went back to Stacked not once, not twice but three times. We definitely would have gone back if we had more time.

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The saddest part of this trip was of course the end of it. SO lives in the UK and to go from seeing him everyday to not being able to hold his hand sucks. The reason why long distance relationships are hard is because you’re so far away from the person your heart enjoys and loves best. It’s a bittersweet feeling to be so happy to have found the person I’m going to spend forever with, yet in the interim not being able to physically be with him is painful. The Uber ride to the airport was painful and while there’s the knowing that this isn’t the last time you’ll see each other, there’s also the pain of separation that taints that moment. I spent a good chunk of my time before flying back to Jo’burg crying like a baby. A couple of days later, I’m still not getting much sleep and I miss him terribly.

I sent this to the boy because I was bored…

Aside from Jesus (that’s an obvious one right,) there isn’t another soul that knows me as well as the boy does. He is the kindest, most funniest and caring person I have ever known. I intended to write this post about my trip to Cape Town but I honestly can’t help myself from gushing about this human who seems to have been so perfectly made for me. The bonus is that he is also ridiculously good looking, I could stare at him all day…does that sound creepy? After my sister passed away I didn’t think I’d ever be happy again. My sister was my best friend and the thought of doing life without her is still a painful thought. My SO did the best he could do to lift my spirits and even when I was snappy, unreasonable, PMS-ey, he was always understanding. As much as I felt my faith in God dwindling, somehow by having this yummy man in my life, I feel a wholeness being restored in my soul. A peace and calm that I haven’t felt in a long time. A peace and calm I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel again.

And then he sent this in return, I love this man so much!

There are so many songs that make me think of him but lately there’s one by Lianne La Havas that has been on repeat every single day.

I love you so much baby, your eyes hold everything.

*SO = significant other