You’ve Got A New Story To Write

“You’re slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter.”

Note to self: As broken as you feel, you are still strong. Maybe not physically, and the reality of that situation is taking its toll – the shattered dreams of returning to the distance running I love and all my stage and fitness adventures, now treasured memories, probably never to be repeated.

After two years, hope to slowly return to the road in a small way, but it will look very different, and that has to be okay.

The journey is often not pretty or graceful. I remain grateful and positive, but will also allow myself days to grieve. We all have to learn to embrace the messy bits of life, hold ourselves together and keep moving. I’m looking forward to the future, even though right now things are not great, I believe what is yet to come will be amazing.

Good thing I love peanut butter!

DARE TO SHARE

“The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness – even our wholeheartedness – actually depends on the integration of all our experiences, including the falls.” – Brene Brown

Your story matters.

I received a surprise last year when my friend sent me a draft copy of a page from the book she was working on and was humbled to see she had used my story as the illustration for the devotion on 19 June. When she asked me if I was happy for her to go ahead I replied with an excited yes please! What an honour.   

The book has since been published and ‘Walk out on the Water’ 365 daily devotionals for Women by Caitlyn de Beer is a book I highly recommend.

It is incredible that this year 19 June 2021 falls on the day before Father’s Day and ties together some of the most painful pieces of my journey, which God has used to work in my life. I am now able to share these experiences and encourage others to overcome their fears and barriers and give them hope. When you have gone through a similar situation someone else is facing, it reassures them that God will get them through too. Courage is contagious.

What are you doing here Debbie? God has used this question recently with me, which has required soul-searching to examine issues of my heart that I have not recognized or simply ignored.  It is often hard to own our story but it is even harder if we keep running from it our whole life. Your story can be someone else’s guide and their own fears are lessened when they hear you share how you overcame similar circumstances and hope is restored because they realize it isn’t impossible.

Nothing goes to waste if we share our experiences and use them to encourage others and give them hope.

LIVING HOPE

It has been 100 years since the running of the first Comrades Marathon and today, many athletes get to run their own race, the Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge, along their chosen route anywhere in the world.

The Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge comprises 5 distances, being a 5km, 10km, 21.1km, 45km and 90km which are all being run virtually. I am out there with you all in spirit, as I am still unable to return to my favourite sport, but I would definitely be participating if I could.

Although I may do nothing physically right now, spiritually I am enthusiastic and excited as I follow my friends’ journeys and am eagerly waiting at home, with refreshments and treats, for my husband to return from his 21km run too!

The vision and heart behind today’s event is for runners to lace up to run for hope. Hope for a better and brighter tomorrow beyond Covid-19.

I was going to write a down all the thoughts swirling through my head right now, but instead I am going to post this message and keep it short and sweet and simply encourage everyone, myself included, to keep hope alive. Whatever situation you find yourself in, know that God is there and while you are waiting for your breakthrough, wait for active expectancy and believe that God is working in your life, even when you don’t feel it.

Your most effective ministry to others can come out of your deepest hurts and on days when you are feeling weak, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. We all need each other. I have always believed that pain is never wasted when we are able to use it to encourage others and let them find healing in our wounds.

Our circumstances and what is happening in the world is overwhelming but let’s choose to find joy daily, instead of wasting our lives waiting for everything to be perfect. Let us remain addicted to hope.  

Live Life Always

What do you choose to focus on every day? The good experiences or the bad? I do my best to focus on the good, the positive and to be thankful. My friend Sean Williams, does the same.

Sometimes this requires some creativity! To be able to look beyond the mess and in this case literally heaps of rubbish and see hope and possibility instead, is not easy. But it is possible when you are as passionate about a cause as Sean is.

As of 6 May 2021, 50 000 bags of litter have been collected.

I have been volunteering with this incredible group of people and share their vision about recycling and cleaning up our planet one bag at a time. Before the end of the year, our aim is to have collected 100 000 bags and build 100 dustbins.

It takes guts, passion and heart and Sean and his team (a group of residents from the Diepsloot township, along with volunteers) have all of these attributes and more, as they tackle the community with the daily clean-ups, building dustbins and educating others about the importance of looking after our planet and keeping the environment clean. Sean has been invited to speak at a number of schools in the area and I am excited to have been invited to join him next week, and encourage the children to become passionate about saving our planet too.

Sean’s environmental non-profit organization, Live Life Always, is donation driven and relies on sponsorships to employ the team and are always in need of help, in order to keep this initiative going.

Please visit www.swtrust.co.za or email Sean sean@swtrust.co.za if you can contribute in any form.

TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Liquid Prayers

I am going to sing, in the middle of the storm.

I went to the doctor this week for a belated follow-up appointment to plan the way forward for my continued recovery journey. After being so sick last year, and reminded once again by yet another medical professional how lucky I am to have pulled through, I wept. I have done a lot of that during the last year and God has seen it all. He values our tears so much, He even keeps them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).

Every day is a gift. This has become so real to me and I am determined not to waste time in self-pity (but I have my moments!) The road ahead is still a long one but I choose to celebrate the small improvements and am grateful that I am not where I used to be, despite being a long way from where I need to be. It is hard to stay motivated at times, when it feels nobody understands what I am going through, and instead judge only by what they see. But I am not alone. God is aware of it all and this comforts me.    

God cares more than anyone else does.

When you are feeling overwhelmed and tears are pouring down your face, when you are anxious, when you feel alone and abandoned, there is someone who is always available. God. He has been with you since the beginning and will be with you until you enter eternity. He will never leave you.

He doesn’t always answer prayers the way we think He should and I know how hard this is to understand, but it doesn’t mean God doesn’t care. Please don’t stop trusting Him, praying and believing that He loves you very much.

Cry out to God. He hears you. There is not a tear that has fallen from your eyes that God has not seen. Ever. Let this reminder have you crying tears of joy! You are not alone.

Your tears may fall but your strength can continue to rise.

Cracked Eggs

This weekend we celebrated our first Easter, in our new home province, Gauteng.

Autumn is here, with the falling leaves and brown trees symbolizing not only letting things go but also renewal and rebirth. One of the many lessons I have learnt during this transition season is it is possible to be scared, brave, strong and frail all in one and more importantly, things don’t have to be completely fixed for us to be completely fine.

Another lesson I have learnt is that when we struggle and hurt, it is easy to doubt God’s love and become guarded with others. We also judge ourselves and believe the lies the enemy tells us. Swop those negative thoughts for what you know to be true about God. He loves you. He is good. He died for you. You are forgiven.

Hold on to hope that whatever is hurting you in this moment will not last forever.

Whatever is breaking your heart right now, know that the ache is proof of a beautiful remaking in progress.

Don’t give up.

Instead, look up. Believe God is at work behind the scenes, even when it doesn’t feel like it. God is good at being God. Trust Him. Trust Him with it ALL.

Telelestai – “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Paper Plates

“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we are all in this together.” – Brene Brown

An unexpected conversation with a friend yesterday, left me reflecting once again on how none of us can know for certain what happens ‘behind closed doors’, and we need to always be slow to judge and give others the benefit of the doubt if they appear to be acting out.

“Today you could be talking to someone who is trying their best not to fall apart. So whatever you do today, do it with kindness in your heart.” We have heard this several times before but it is worth mentioning again.

Everyone struggles with trauma differently and may not experience it in the same way as the next person.

You may think someone does not have a lot on their plate compared to you but maybe their plate is flimsy and cannot hold as much as your sturdy one. They are using paper plates, you have ceramic. Perhaps their plate is smaller than yours, so they cannot hold a lot to begin with.

Life is hard for everyone.

We all carry pain to greater and lesser extents. And it is all valid.

The journey is about embracing it, learning from it and healing.  

So I guess this short #thursdaythought is to remind you to: BE KIND and keep this in mind.

Patience

The only ‘running’ I have done in the last 5 months, is running out of patience. Not being well and being disciplined to rest has been hard.

Things often go in a different order to what we had in mind for our lives. I know this well as it has happened to me several times. I am still learning to be patient and wait on God, even if it seems He is taking me on a roundabout way to get to my destination yet again.

“Lord, grant me patience, but please hurry!”

Patience is not your ability to wait, but your ability to keep a good attitude while you wait. Often trials bring out the other traits first like anger, self-pity and complaining before patience can come forth. What happens within us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.

Let’s do our best to wait well.

“God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for them to wait.” C.S. Lewis

Milk Tart Memories

This weekend marks one month since our move to Johannesburg from KwaZulu-Natal, and to celebrate this milestone, I bought us some mini milk tarts to have with our coffee today.

For my overseas readers, who may not be familiar with this classic South African dessert, I thought I would share some of its history below:

The milk tart, or melktert in Afrikaans, is one of South Africa’s most traditional sweet pies. It is omnipresent in our country and appears in every supermarket or bakery. It consists of a sweet pastry crust, filled with a mild, creamy custard of milk, flour, sugar and eggs, baked in a round pie tin and dusted with cinnamon after baking. The ratio of milk to eggs is higher than in a traditional Portuguese custard tart or Chinese egg tart, resulting in a higher texture and a stronger milk flavour.

Even Jamie Oliver made our famous milk tart a few years ago, and added his own unique twist to the recipe by pouring golden caramel over the top, giving it a “naughty, shardy crunch”.

The milk tart recipe originated in the Cape of Good Hope when Dutch settlers arrived in the 1600s and introduced the milk based filling and the Cape Malays added the cinnamon flavour. The crust traditionally consisted of short-crust pastry but these days many people use ready-made puff pastry instead. With crustless tarts becoming a trend, our ancestors would be turning in their graves if they knew some milk tarts are now being made this way!

It is served sliced, chilled or room temperature. If you are ever lucky enough to come visit and have a piece (or two) of this South African favourite, be it a traditional recipe or with a modern twist, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Monday Motivation

There is never a better time to be kind. Be kind to others but also yourself.

Remember how far you have come, not only how far you have to go.

Create a love for yourself that does not rely on the words or actions of others.

The past is not a failure but teaches us to get back up for the things that matter.

Remember there is always so much to be grateful for, especially the little things.