Look of the Day: Pink Happiness

I’ve been playing around a lot more with make-up. Part of it is because I’ve always loved make-up, and the other part is because I find that playing with make-up is a great outlet for my nerves that get so tied up in a knot because of work and family responsibilities. This weekend I tried out a new foundation, NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop in the shade ‘cappuccino’. I’ve been wearing the NARS Sheer Glow foundation and it is up there with my favourites. I didn’t see any other foundation clawing their way up to NARS status.

I had tried NYX foundation a very long time ago and I was not impressed. This time was different. There’s something about the formulation of this foundation that doesn’t feel clogging. All my blemishes and scars were covered without any caky vibes, that’s a win. The lasting power of this foundation is great, it’s been ridiculously hot in South Africa. Today was 30 degrees if I’m not mistaken and not once did I feel my face running or see any oiliness peeking through. I just looked like I had healthy glowy skin! If you want to recreate this look, keep on reading!

Here’s what I wore:

  • Face: NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation in ‘cappuccino’, Revolution London illuminating setting spray
  • Eyes: Beauty Treats 88 shade professional eyeshadow palette and a pink shade from Bodyography, can’t remember the name, and Le Volume Révolution de Chanel mascara, WOW, WOW,WOW is all I can say about this mascara, I’m in love!
  • Cheeks: L’Oreal Les Chocolats liquid lipstick in ‘tasty ruby’ don’t like it on my lips but it’s beautiful on the cheeks. Maybelline chrome highlight in ‘knockout’. The highlighter was the real star of the show for me!
  • Lips: L.O.V Shine & Care Lipstick in ‘Istanbul’, Estée Lauder Pure Colour Envy matte lipstick in ‘desirous’ topped off with Fenty Beauty’s gloss bomb 💣 in ‘Fenty glow’

So You Ran a Marathon, Now What?

The last four weeks of marathon training were hard…one might say non-existent 😂 My knee was behaving like a juvenile delinquent, the kind that needs to be locked up and never let out. I could barely walk without feeling pain in each step. I went to a few physio sessions, 1 week out mind you and had my physio recommend that I skip the race. To be honest I had every intention of not running, but I had a whole week of my handsome man gassing me up to the point where I started to believe that I could at least hobble to the finish line 😂 then I picked up my race pack and there is something about the adrenaline of the race that erased any doubts I had, and before I knew it, on Sunday I was getting up to run.

I told myself that the only way I’d get through the marathon was by loving it and keeping my pace slow and easy. Running is a mental game more than anything, I had to be present in every stride and not allow negativity to settle. The race kicks off on Granger Bay Boulevard alongside the beach which was absolutely stunning and nostalgic as my man proposed to me on the beach. It was mesmerising having the sea air fill your lungs up on a route that thankfully was flat with minimal elevation. I loved every second of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. At no point did I hit a slump and I plan to carry this feeling of elation in every marathon I do. Mentally I had the following phrase on repeat: ‘head up, eyes up, one foot in front of the other. Just keep moving.’ I had a stretch where I sped up a little bit to get away from a lady who was complaining about why she was running the marathon. My knee injury meant that I had to re-adjust my goals, at the start of my programme my estimation was a sub 5 hour marathon, I finished with a time of 5:59:15. For my debut marathon I could not be prouder, knowing how much I had to fight to get to the starting line made me appreciate the fact that I could run. The funniest part was that my knee didn’t act up, and even now it’s more muscle soreness that I feel and not the type of pain usually associated with an injury. It was an amazing race!!!!

My fuelling strategy that I had only tested twice on my longest run being a 22.5k, did not fail me and I am proud to say I escaped the wall. I ate at pretty regular intervals, spacing my re-fuels out every hour. Water is great BUT nothing tastes as good as ice cold Coca Cola and Powerade. I am pretty sure I guzzled a litre of that good stuff. This race was just what I needed as September through to the end of the year is usually tough for my family. October is the hardest as it’s a reminder of the glimmer of hope we had when my sister moved back home but also a reminder of the pain that still hasn’t gone away from her sudden death. On the 4th of November we laid her to rest, and a month later (3rd of December), her birthday reminds us that she is no longer here. This race was never about how fast I could go, but about running in honour of the most badass, resilient and beautiful person I had the privilege of calling my sister. I miss you so much baby girl.

Special thank you to all the kind humans who have donated. My fundraising page is still up. Thinking about the people who have supported me is what kept me going. It is how I knew I would be running this marathon as I thought of my sister and the wonderful people at Hillcrest AIDS Centre who provide hope to all those infected with HIV. I’ve heard people say that once you’ve done one marathon, the bug bites you and you start planning your next one and I think it’s true. I’m probably going to (properly) do this again…

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!!!

In Review: Lulu & Marula

I have been so excited about this brand for a VERY long time!!! I can’t remember how I discovered the brand, probably through a random Google search, but boy am I glad I did! This year has been ALL about my skin. The old me would spend her hard earned cash on yet another pair of leggings, the 2019 me, researches skincare products that will enhance and improve what she already has…why am I speaking to myself in third person? Back to Lulu & Marula. One of the things that I connected with was the brand story. Lulu & Marula or L&M for short, source all their ingredients ethically using pure botanical and plant-derived ingredients. None of their products contain artificial colours, fragrances, parabens, petrochemicals, synthetics or other harmful ingredients. They don’t test on animals, and all of their products are endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty.

L&M was founded in 2013 by Jesslynn Shepherd, Monique Spaltman, a professional skincare scientist joined the team later on. Monique heads up all product research, development and testing. This was what sold me on the brand, the fact that they aren’t just a natural brand (everyone is these days,) but the fact that they research the why behind a product formulation. It’s very much on trend to slap ‘all natural’ on beauty products these days but they’re often the least natural of ingredients and created by people who perhaps don’t have the science know-how behind why they’ve put a certain ingredient in a product.

L&M are based in Cape Town, there is free delivery if you spend over 600. Side note: isn’t it funny how we baulk at a R50 delivery fee regardless of how much we’re spending on what we’re buying? I ordered on Friday and my delivery arrived on Tuesday. I was notified via SMS while at work and I’m not kidding when I say it was all I was thinking about!

I ordered three items from L&M: the purifying treatment oil, the purifying mask & polish and the calming body balm. I’ve listed below the ingredients for each product, as you can see, it is PROPER CLEAN BEAUTY!

Purifying Treatment Oil: Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Crambe Abyssinica (Abyssinian) Oil, Squalane, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Salicylic Acid, Jojoba Esters , Tocopherol Acetate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Cera, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Seed Oil, Malaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Lavandula Augustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil, Acacia Decurrens Flower Cera, Polyglycerin-3.

Purifying Mask & Polish: Bentonite, Kaolinite, Moroccan Lava Clay (Rhassoul), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea), Montmorillonite (French Green Clay), Nettle Leaf, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root, Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Oil, Bromelain, Papain, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Oil, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Seed Oil, Malaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil.

Calming Body Balm: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Crambe Abyssinica (Abyssinian) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Seed Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Tocopherol Acetate, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil, Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Lavandula Augustifolia (Lavender) Oil.

My experience: If anyone ever tries to sell you on the idea of how glamorous an MSc. is, don’t believe them. Last night I had a moment of panic while assembling my testing kits and thought it as the perfect opportunity to unwind with a face mask…maybe I just needed an excuse to use the mask & polish, we’ll never know. I started off by cleansing my face with the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus facial bar and then used a face cloth to get rid of the excess water. The instructions say to take a teaspoon of the mask and mix with an equal amount of water (I used rosewater). I found that a teaspoon made more than enough mask than I needed, maybe I just have a smaller face than most haha. As you apply the mask you get a gentle exfoliation and a divine smell that jumps out of your skin! I left it on for 10 minutes and then rinsed with lukewarm water. My skin was baby bottom soft, radiant and clean without that stripped bare feeling. I followed up with the purifying treatment oil which gave my skin a glow without it looking or feeling oily. This morning I’ve already received 3 compliments on how good my skin looks and for a girl with acne scars here and there, I can hardly believe these people are talking to me. In regards to the body balm, again like the treatment oil and the mask & polish, the ingredients are stellar however (perhaps it was due to having a headache last night,) I am not yet on board with the smell. It’s has all my favorite oils, the calm of lavender, the warmth of ylang ylang, but my ongoing headaches won’t yet let me enjoy it! I promise to update once I’ve used it a bit longer.

The products that I selected are best suited for blemish prone skin that needs a bit…a lot of TLC. All of the ingredients used have a benefit to the skin and aren’t just being used for the sake of use…remember when argan oil was a buzz? I have been using rosehip oil on my face for a couple of months now and I have seen a huge difference in tone and texture of my skin. I am 110% confident that the addition of L&M to my skincare routine will only improve it. I can see it already! L&M definitely have me on board as a customer for life. Their service has been nothing short of amazing and I love the personal touch and beautiful attention to detail. I wish I had a better camera to show you all the gold lettering on the packaging but if you want to see that then I guess you just have to buy it 😉

Shop for Lulu & Marula over here —> www.luluandmarula.co.za

Don’t believe my review? Check my face out!

In Review: Pixi Glow Tonic

Last night I was speaking to the love of my life when he said something that made me chuckle, as I think of it this morning, I’m happy my efforts are starting to pay off and show off as well. It’s been just under 2 months since I started using the Pixi Glow Tonic religiously! The reviews that I trust the most are the ones where said reviewer has used the product more than once, in fact the longer the length of time, the better and more trustworthy the review…in most cases at least.

I am on an endless quest to have healthy skin. As a teen I picked at every spot and the reminders are still there however instead of letting it get me down, I focus my skincare on using products that exfoliate, brighten and repair. On their website, the Pixi glow tonic is described as a highly concentrated and invigorating facial toner. I used my skincare mule aka the boy to bring some over for me from the UK (purchased on Cult Beauty) as it was cheaper. A mere £18.00 for a very generous 250ml. This toner contains 5% glycolic acid which is the exfoliating part of the toner. It also helps in wiping away impurities and brightening your skin. The directions say that you can use it in the morning & evening to balance, soothe and brighten your skin.

Full ingredient list: Water/Aqua/Eau, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Hexylene Glycol, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Biotin, Panthenol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Caramel, Red 4 (CI 14700).

My experience: Prior to purchasing this I read the reviews and amongst all the brilliant things that people had to say about it, there were a few reviewers that said they didn’t notice a remarkable difference. However, based on probabilities of great reviews over not so great, I had everything to gain and nothing to lose. I washed my face using African black soap and followed with the toner. I then applied my facial oil along with Vichy’s dark spot corrector and went to bed. I followed the same routine in the morning with the addition of an SPF 50 sunscreen. After 2 months I have noticed that my skin is a lot more radiant however I have a sneaky suspicion that the radiance is due to other products in my arsenal (and being madly in love because apparently you glow differently when you’re in love,) and not the glow tonic.

On days where I forgot to use it, I did not notice a difference in my skin texture or appearance. In fact my worst skin days occurred when I hadn’t exfoliated with a physical exfoliator or done a face mask. My skin isn’t particularly sensitive so I did not feel any tingly or burning sensation when using it. Overall I would not purchase the Glow Tonic again, it was good but just not good enough.

The Skincare Edit

I have one year to go until I turn 30, YIKES!!!  While I am excited to join the dirty 30s club, turning 29 was a wake-up call to taking better care of my skin. In my teens the most I did was use any bar of soap that was in the bathroom to clean my face and then apply PONDS Vanishing Cream, did you even experience adolescence if you didn’t use PONDS? Then puberty hit and along with the point 1 percent increase in bust size, so came the acne. My acne prone areas (to this day,) are my chin and forehead. I didn’t know better then but I would attack every spot with my fingernails, it was satisfying to squeeze the gunk out and now…I pay for it with leftover scarring 😦

Invest wisely. Do you research and read reviews. I promise R+F is worth it! You are worth it! wbeverley.myrandf.com

The scarring I have on my chin led to me trying SO many different products, some legit and some not so legit. I’m now at a stage where I have found the things that work for me and are the mainstay in my skincare routine. DISCLAIMER: you cannot stumble your way into great skin, it takes some work and the sooner you start, the better it is for you. Today I am damn proud of the skin I have because Lord indeed knows how I have fought for it!

Excuse the bad brows, this was before I got them permanently shaped. Peep the glow!

Daytime routine: Depending on how I slept, I always cleanse my face for a minute (I saw this on Jackie Aina’s skincare routine,) using African black soap. The one I use is by a brand called Corium. I purchased it from Faithful to Nature and got it almost as quick as I had ordered it! Real black soap isn’t black but more of a dark brown colour and squidgy to the touch. Black soap is made of cocoa pod ash, plantain peel ash, palm kernel oil and camwood bark. These are all naturally derived ingredients sourced from Ghana. A number of people who have used black soap praise it for improving their skin tone, discolouration and hyperpigmentation. I also love that it leaves my skin feeling clean but not dry. Once I’ve cleansed I pat my skin dry and spritz it with rose water and seal it all in with my homemade lemon and sweet orange oil moisturiser. I am very big on facial oils and while one oil in particular, coconut oil gets a bad rep for its comedogenic rating, I find that on my skin it works. Once I’ve let the moisturiser sink in, I then apply my SPF 50 sunscreen by Nivea and then I’m done for the morning…unless I’m wearing make-up!

Night- time routine: My night-time routine is the one that takes the longest but is the one worth investing in the most. Step one ALWAYS starts with cleansing the grime of the day. If I’ve been wearing makeup I’ll use a gel cleanser to get most of the make-up off and then I’ll go in with a facial brush to put the cleanser to work and get all of the make-up off. I know we all wish the assistants on our phones could do it for us, but I cannot stress how important it is to thoroughly cleanse your skin if you do wear make up! If you don’t wear make up, you’re not getting a gold star for me, it all has to do with preference and one is not necessarily better than the other.

Since I’ve started taking care of my skin, I find that I don’t need as much foundation as before which means less make-up to wash off, I don’t know about you but that sounds like a win to me! Once my face is cleanse, I then use the Vitamin C Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion scrub by the Body Shop. I’ve tried a few products from the Body Shop and this is the only one that has stuck and worked for me. It leaves my skin softer, brighter and ready to drink in my night cream.

Sometimes if my skin really needs it, I’ll go in with a mask, the one I always reach for is the Coconut & Hibiscus Radiance Mud Mask by Shea Moisture. The Songyi Mushroom Extract helps in brightening, softening and nourishing the skin. Unlike most mud masks that often leave your skin feeling Sahara desert DRY, this one doesn’t!

I then use a toner to rebalance my skin’s pH balance, I am currently using the Glow Tonic by Pixi Beauty. This toner contains glycolic acid to gently exfoliate the skin and restore brightness and reduce hyperpigmentation. Ginseng to improve circulation and energize the skin and aloe vera to soothe and hydrate. I love the way it makes my skin feel!

I then apply a targeted serum, the one I use is the ProEVEN Night Dark Spot Corrector by Vichy, it works like a BOMB, my spots definitely look a lot better since I started using it. To finish off I apply my night cream also by Vichy, the Idéalia Night Cream. If there’s one product I would highly recommend, it would be this cream. It has a lovely gel-like texture and feels cool on the skin. I always wake up looking a lot more rested with plump looking skin to rival any 20 year old. I then seal it all in with rosehip oil and jump into bed!

In Review: Mini LUSH Haul

Recently LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics launched a couple of new products. These included five new hair conditioners, which have since gone off the grid, and a host of other bath & body goodies! The LUSH junkie that I am, of course I wanted it ALL of them but it would have been ridiculous for my bank balance to suffer so much damage in one big swoop. I settled for a few items, some of which my dear boy surprised me with for my birthday last month.

J’s Mom Okra is the conditioner that was described as being best suited for afro textured hair. The minute you open the bottle you’re hit with a peppery fresh smell that lingers in your hair long after you’ve rinsed it off.  J’s Mom’s Okra contains castor oil which is great for promoting hair growth and sealing moisture, something that afro textured hair needs loads of, okra gel for slippage when detangling (with this conditioner, I’d recommended very light finger detangling), lavender and rosemary oil amongst a host of other great ingredients. The first time I used it was as a light leave-in, which was recommended on the LUSH UK website, I discovered that the product contained little green bits, which I’m assuming is the okra gel. These pieces flake off easily but this was a factor that ultimately led to it being struck off the leave-in conditioner list. I desperately wanted to love it but ultimately it came down to the fact that there are much cheaper conditioners that do the same thing for less. Overall rating 6/10

Yog Nog Perfume was the purchase I was most looking forward to. In my almost 2 years of working at LUSH South Africa, Yog Nog remains an iconic smell that I wanted in every form possible. I went on about it for days when I missed out on the Yog Nog body lotion, but lucky girl that I am, my boy ended up surprising me with this for my birthday. The smell is sweet yet not in an overwhelming way. There’s a spicy undertone that warms your nose as you spray it. Once it settles on your skin, the smell transforms to warm butterscotch scent that reminds me of my boy each time I miss him. The perfume has great staying power, I could still smell it on my clothes hours later, as well as on the areas on my body that I had sprayed with Yog Nog. Overall rating 10/10

The high hopes that I had for Yog Nog perfume, trickled into the shower jelly. Sadly I was bitterly disappointed. I have used LUSH shower jellies in the past and most of them lather and clean pretty well while leaving your skin subtly perfumed. This one took quite a lot of rubbing to get a lather on it. I tried a washcloth, a shower loofah, a body brush and while each of this helped in getting a smidgen more lather out of the jelly, it was a rather disappointing purchase. The smell is true to the Yog Nog scent, however it does not last. Overall rating 4/10

I wasn’t ready for this jelly and how disappointing it was 😦

Hard-core LUSHIES will be familiar with the HIWTK and It’s Raining Men scent. Caramel undertones boosted by freshness from the citrus essential oils used. I was hoping that Noni I Washed the Kids would smell similar, if not completely identical to HIWTK shampoo bar. When I opened the tub I was underwhelmed. While the smell was similar to HIWTK solid soap, the citrusy elements of this lotion were overpowering and produced a smell not entirely reminiscent of the toffee and sweet undertones present in other products from this range. As a body lotion, it is moisturising, my skin felt supple to the touch and lightly scented for hours. This along with Yog Nog shower jelly are purchases that I wouldn’t repeat. Overall rating 5/10

American Shower Cream is  only a tiny bit edged out by Yog Nog perfume when it comes to my favourite items. To me this is one that they got spot on. If you’ve used American Cream conditioner before, the smell is exactly what you get in the shower cream. A small quantity lathers up beautifully and cleanses your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. The strawberries lend a fruity undertone that is balanced by the clary sage. My only regret is not having more of these babies on hand, which I may or may not remedy… Overall rating 8.10

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

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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!

New year, new you. Do YOU boo!

I’m 4 days late BUT I think I’ve just made it just in time for a ‘new year, new me’ post. If you need a new year for it to be a ‘new you’ then take it. In the words of popular blogger Maya Washington, ‘do you boo!’ A new year is often times the best time to make a change. I’ve seen quite a few posts do the rounds on social media, most notably this one by Pearl Thusi berating people who adopt this ‘new year, new me’ attitude.

I am of the opinion that you don’t need a new year or month to make a change, however, there is some significance to it.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

A new year is a fresh chance to achieve goals that you had forgotten about. It brings with it a fresh offering to start a routine whether it’s a new one that you want to stick to, or an old one that you had forgotten about and become the better you that you envision. If someone wants to be vocal about the changes they want to make in their life, let them be vocal. There’s a meme that’s been doing the rounds on social media that if you stay hydrated then you won’t have the time to be bothered about other peoples business. Unless a goal is yours and the person who wants to achieve the goal has asked you to hold them accountable, you have no business being bothered about what someone else wants to achieve in their life. Let people live the life they want and mind your business.

If you’re using the start of a new year to catapult you to your true potential; here’s a quote by Iyanla Vanzant as a firm reminder to take responsibility for all the changes you wish to make in your life.

Loving yourself means that you accept responsibility for your own development, growth and happiness.

Accept the responsibility that is yours for your growth and happiness. In most cases, we get to decide where life takes us and this year I’m expectant. There will be more exciting travels, (I’ve been speaking about the Philippines for a long time, it’s time to make it happen) a deepening of love in my relationship with my man and more growth, productivity and health in all aspects of my life.

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Mismatched socks, leggings & pyjama top indicative of a morning where this happened: I set (& snoozed) 3 different alarms 🚨 put my leggings on & off twice. Talked myself into running, talked myself out of running & then talked myself into running again. All of this before 7 😅 there’s nothing worse than a run first thing in the morning when you’ve had pretty rotten quality sleep. . . The thing or should I say person that got me out the door 🚪 was God. Standing there in my pyjama top & undies already MEGA grumpy because of the lack of sleep, I asked God ‘okay what do I do God? Run or romwod?’ Going back to sleep wasn’t even an option 🐒 Of course because God is pretty big on discipline (especially spiritual discipline,) & maintaining it regardless of how you feel: the directive from the Spirit was to get on the road. Not the longest run by time or distance but a lesson learnt on doing what you say you’re going to do regardless of how you feel physically, mentally or emotionally. A quick & spicy 🥵 10 minute run in the books & I don’t regret it. . . . #positivity #Runners #fitness #fitspo #fitspiration #healthfirst #healthylifestyle #fitnessblogger #bloggingcommunity #RunningCommunity #blog #igdaily #community #inspiration #Running #beastmode #fitnessblog #encouragement #motivation #loveRunning #hwpo #bebetter #faith #strong #bloggers #instadaily #girlswithmuscles

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