God will make a way

I want to start of this week by making a closing statement : “He always does.”

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The past few weeks I was confronted a few times with moments where I had to make decisions. I was facing choices which I knew were going to have a definite impact on me and my life. I was constantly in front of God and the other night, literally begged Him to please give me guidance because I did not know what to do.

I got this clear answer from Him, a scripture I read a zillion times before, but this time round it has special meaning and I turned to the The Living Bible where it said, “I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.” ( Psalm 32:8 ). How special is that last part, that He will advise me and watch my progress. That in itself is such a clear assurance, He will help me to make the right decisions.

How do we know what God’s will if for us ? How do we know that what we do is His will or when a door opens for us, that is “our door.”

Well, first of all, whatever we decide to do and whatever happens to us as a result of our decisions will never contradict His word. Simply said, God will never lead us toward an opportunity that contradicts what He clearly says in his Word.

Is there a test for this ? For sure there is. Whatever it is that we do will never cause us to compromise on our values or beliefs and or walk in disobedience to get what we want or go where we need to be.  Let’s face it, we as humans are prone to sin and we find ways to justify those actions of disobedience to get what we want, but that us not God’s way, not at all. When He opens doors for us, we will be able to walk right through knowing that He has made the way, often where there seems to be no way. Like 1 Peter 5 says, we have to cast all our anxieties on Him, because he cares for us. Maybe you are a little like me where I do the casting but also do the take it back’ing. Impatience to allow God to do what it is that He does best, taking care of me and all my needs.

I am also a firm believer of confirmation, that God will always confirm His will and ways for us through circumstances and through people, often through strangers. It is through prayer, discernment and seeking godly counsel that we will know what His true and divine is for us and through this He will help us to make the correct decisions in our lives. Let me give you and example. There is something, a really heavy burden on my heart this past few days and I honestly do not know what to do with it but I feel God says, “Wait”. For those who know me, this is not advice I like to hear. I am a doer, I am all about taking action and now, now I have to wait.

Is it all that bad you might ask ? Well for me, yes, but that is until I realised that waiting on God is like a build up to that moment when he will instruct me and guide me along the best pathway for my life and He will then continue to advise me and then the best part, watch my progress. That right there us God’s perfect will and purpose. You see when we learn to wait, we learn to rest in him, we learn to experience total peace, we show that we are humble and declare our dependency on God and these become the moments when we are often the most aware of His presence. We can also use the times of “waiting” to grab the opportunity to like May also just sit as His feet and spend quality time with Him and this is also when we get a better and deeper understanding of His Word and His will for us and this will lead to that very moment when the time of waiting will be over, the silence will be broken and God will show us what to do. All this makes the waiting all so much worth it.

The best part of waiting on God and then receive a word for us to do something, to make those decisions, it also bring along something very special, it brings us closer to Him. God will never lead us on a path that will alienate us from Him, it will always but always draw us closer to Him and that there us the final test, if you need one, if the decision you have made has done that; opened the door for you to do what it is you had to do but at the end of the day bringing you closer to Him. Let me take you back to Psalm 32, for God to “watch your progress” required for Him to be there. How amazing is that. So, the test will be basically this. If you find yourself saying something like “I can’t do this unless God goes before me,” or “I can do this, but only with God’s guidance and blessing” then I am pretty sure that it is very likely something God is calling you to do, so go, and do it.

Friends, remember, open doors are there for a reason, it is for us to live out of dreams and grow as a people but many times an “open door” from God is one that allow our faith to be stretched and strengthened. Is that not after all God’s objective for us: to grow in faith and Christ-likeness, so yes, God will make a way, he always does.

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“Forgiveness: It is about fact and fiction”

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Forgiveness; it does not change the past, but it sure does change the future. Some people get so caught up in the grip of forgiveness that is paralyses not only who they are but also who they ought to be. A full fruitful and happy life is not possible without forgiveness.

Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness are the three things in life that will stop you from living a full, happy and free life. To live our lives to the fullest we need to deal with these “three giants” sometime in our lives, that is if we want to be free.

Have you ever heard of the medical term “Rigamortis”. Well, I am not going to get into the medical explanation of this, but basically it refers to muscular stiffening following death and it can last for up to 5 or six days and then decomposition of the body begins. You might think, what on earth does this have to do with unforgiveness? Well, let me tell you.

When we are hurt, when our trust is betrayed or we are hurt spiritually or emotionally in any way, while nothing has physically been done to us, our brain literally tell our body the pain is real and that is why we sometimes experience that pain so intense. In a a medical study it was also established that the area of your brain that lights up when you’re hurt physically is the same area that lights up when you suffer “social rejection.” That makes the term “heartbreak” so much real doesn’t it.

Recently I had to deal with this, the act of real and honest forgiveness. Friends, believe me when I say, this is tough. If you want to do it right, if you want it to be lasting and not just a habitual act, then it is tough. In John 20, verses 22 and 23 I found the very foundation of forgiveness. Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” His next instruction was about forgiving people, when He said, “If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven [because of their faith]; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained [and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief]” (Amplified Bible) Friends, only through the work and the help of the Holy Spirit is this action possible. We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to help us with this because it is so hard.

I did a lot of reading and Bible study about forgiveness because I knew in my own power this was not going to happen. I remembering thinking one day that forgiving in itself felt more painful than the hurt I suffered, but was also reminded about the fact that there were not going to be any peace without forgiveness. I was blinded by anger and feelings of betrayal and at time I found it really hard to even read about this and what is expected of me, yes “me”, not the other person. I was reminded that forgiveness was not really about the other person; the act of forgiveness does not in any way justify the other person’s actions against you, but it sets us free. We do it for ourselves, to get well and to move one, to create that moment in time where we create the opportunity and space for new beginnings. When we talk about forgiveness, it means letting go, not excusing the other person or even reconciling with them or even condoning their actions or behavior, it is just an action, a moment in time, where you decide to let go of your own suffering.

I got all this. I was ready to take that step of faith and let the Holy Spirit guide me through this, but this was where I had one of those aha-moments. I knew what I was experiencing, I knew what I felt in my hart and I also understood why it was so hard for me to move on, it was not only because of what I knew, but more about the stuff I did not know. When we can pin point an issue or a incident it is easier to address it, but it the uncertainties in our lives that the devil use against us. God clearly show me that forgiveness was not only about what I knew, but it was also about that which I did not know. Thát is where I came up with the statement, Forgiveness is about fact and fiction, in other words, “fact”, what we know, “fiction”, what we think we know. Fact is based on true happening whereas fiction is based on imaginative happenings.

The latter is dangerous because we have no concrete evidence or basis for this, it is just something out there, and we can change our mind and interpretation of what we think we know as often as we want and to whatever we want, fact remains, it is a non-truth, unfounded. The devil will continue to use these fictional thoughts and ideas we have to try to convince us that they are true. It consumes our minds and start to poison our whole being. Just think about the multitude of bed time stories out there starting with, “Once upon a time”, what followed that was fiction. Sometimes parents will change the story as they go along. Fiction.

So, God clearly showed me, when you forgive, forgive for both what you know to be fact, but also to what you think you know, and this is what I did. I repeat, Forgiveness is about fact and fiction”.

Friends, this conscious action of forgiveness, when you do it right and for the right reason(s) will set you free and give you the ability to start afresh and begin to shape a better future for you. It is however important to know what forgiveness is and why it matters, and for this there are endless resources available. One thing I can tell you is make sure that you exercise the act of forgiveness when you are ready, don’t just do it because it is demanded from you. The Greek word for “forgiveness” literally means “to let go” and when you do this, letting go, you need to be sure that you are willing to leave behind “fact and fiction” and move on.

One last thought. Ben Greenhalth wrote these powerful words, Forgiveness is a sign that the person who has wronged you means more to you than the wrong they have delt.”

“I expected more from you, but you let me down.”

Open letter to a friend

“Dear friend. Here we are, the last day of 2017 and I decided to write this letter to you because I do not intend to take any of 2017’s baggage with me into the New Year.

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Some of you might know that I have had so much to deal with since July this year; the break up after 16 years of commitment, moving into a new place, which I hate, on 1 November, then my health issues and ultimately the operation that followed on 9 November 2017. The latter pretty much left me confined to my flat for weeks because I could not do much for myself.

Fact is, you were not there when I needed you most. Your promise of “Don’t worry; I (or we) will be there for you all the way….” did nothing but create expectations in within that lies the disappointment. You not coming through for me plunged me into profound sadness and enormous disappointment. When I needed you for the first time really in my life, more than ever before, you were not there. I this time I really just had a need for company. I expected more from you, but you let me down. I sank further down, into utter sadness. The one question I asked myself repeatedly was if this was now the time for me to change my view of others or dig deeper and rid of the expectations I had from others.

I think we have all been in that space before, where we needed someone, maybe because we were not feeling well, faces some challenges or dealing with some heartache of some sort, times when we needed nothing more than just a shoulder to cry on. However, what happens when no one is there, when no one give us that much needed attention? I thought about this long and hard during the past few weeks and the same question repeatedly; why is it that suddenly, nobody comes around to give a hand that we cried for in silence?

Friend, if you have not experienced this extreme boniness before, then blessed are you indeed. Be grateful. Believe me though when I say, there is no worse sensation than when you need someone more than anything else, and that that someone is not there for you.

For me the worst thing I realised in this time was that for someone, for that person that we consider a close friend, that individual we wanted to rely on, we needed to rely on, we simply do not exist. These negative feelings were the worst I ever had to deal with. It left me feeling abandoned and rejected.

My “therapy” through these hard times was to blog and to continuously putting my thoughts down in writing and this became my saving grace. One of my realisations was that there would come a time in life when we will be alone. Fact. It is as if other people have a limit in your life, they only reach a certain point. After this point, you will go on alone. Sad but true.

This is a difficult moment, a moment that many of us even try to delay, but believe me, inevitably, it will come. Nobody will or even can accompany you, nobody will be with you. You will be alone and you will walk alone. Nobody will need you, nobody will call you. This will be your worst time, your sense of abandonment so strong as to seem unbearable. I met this moment during the past few months, but especially the past few weeks.

Friend, stranger, whoever is reading this, since we were little, we have gotten used to doing certain things with friends, even with family, but what happens when we find ourselves alone one day? Although most of us know that we have to eventually learn not to depend on anybody to follow our path, do the things that we love to do or just be there for us, it is a fact. Fuelled by feelings of loneliness and an awareness of abandonment, survival mode will kick in.

The tough lesson learned through this time was that I cannot in any way continue to depend on others for company and support, but I have to find that strength and emotional crutches within myself. My self-esteem and happiness can also not depend on others, I had to dig in and find it deep within myself, within the stuff I love to do.

Friend, your absence during this time was loud and clear and although it brought about a lot of disappointment and hurt for me, I have learned to become friends with solitude. I realised that solitude is not necessarily a bad thing in itself. Solitude in this case rather allowed me to learn more about myself, because I became my own company in those dark lonely nights when I tossed, turned, and could not fall asleep.

Just one more though regarding happiness. I learned that I could not depend on anyone to be happy. My happiness does not have to depend on anybody, because when I do rely on others and they fail me it only puts me on a roller coaster of emotions that leaves me frustrated  and totally unhappy.

Friend, you failed me, you left me abandoned when I really needed you the most, so I learned that I have to learn to say goodbye. This is something life often does not teach us because it is seen as negative and sort of cruel and unkind, but it is very necessary. I have often heard this statement, “People will come into your life and they will also go out of it, they will hurt you, they will let you down. They will only be there for a season, for a reason.” Well, saying goodbye to them is something that is difficult, but something that we must learn, starting today. I will not reject you and I will have no animosity towards you, but that door to the inner me is now closed and shut. You or anyone else will not have the opportunity or pleasure to hurt me again in this way, unless I decide to open that door again and take a chance on humanity again. Time will tell.

I have chosen to not expect anything from anyone. In my case I know that often my expectations are too high regarding others and that is my mistake, I realise that, but it is because I am someone who always give completely. There are a multitude of images online with these words, “…expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.” I can vouch for that. The only way to avoid being let down, is to not expect anything from anyone

To you, friend or stranger who reads this, if you’ve ever been in a situation where you needed someone who was not there for you, learn from my experiences and free your mind of the thought, “when I needed you the most, you were not there.” The only one you can really rely on is you. You will never miss yourself and you will always be there for yourself. That is the only given.

Do not look for any hand to help you, if it is there, grab it and appreciate it, but otherwise, resort to this, reach out and grab His hand, He who said “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Through all this I still believe that God uses people to minister to people, God use ordinary people in extraordinary ways to attend to our physical and emotional needs. However, we as a people are not always obedient and or sensitive to His call to service, an in that we often find our disappointment, not because God failed us, but because people did.

Come to think about it, much of this has to do with the fact that we very loosely go about to use the word ‘friend’. Often you call me friend but I have never been to your house, or you to mine, we never shared a meal of coffee – just the two of us because you are important to me and me to you. You call me friend but do not know what has been going on in my life, do not know the challenges I face or the hardship I deal with. You often call me friend yet a visit or a call is conveniently avoidable because we have Facebook, WhatsApp and all other forms of social media fall back on. You call me friend but do not know my likes, dislikes, fears or even what makes me happy. The title of ‘friend’ should be earned rather than claimed or just grabbed out of thin air. Friendship lies deeper than just the occasional message on WhatsApp or Facebook. We became so impersonal because of social media and modern tech that we lost the real human interaction. This is a sad but brutally true reality. The last thought, someone said, “…it is not about not having time or being too busy, it depends on where you are on someone’s priority list. When someone or something is important to us, we will make the time and become un-busy”

My last words before I draw a line in the sand for 2017; I pray that when you are in a time of need, when you need a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or just someone to emotionally bail you out, that you will find that hand to be there. My wish is that you will not experience what I have during the past few months and weeks because we all, yes and that includes you, deserve so much more.

It will be super unfair of me to let the opportunity pas by to thank the handful of people who did promise to be there for me and actually kept their word. Even if I try, I do not think I will find enough words to describe the gratitude I have. You know who you are and mentioning names is not necessary because I will show my gratitude by sharing it with you, on a personal level and not in an open letter. I thank God for you !

Wishing you and your loved ones the very best for 2018.

Sincerely yours,

Be Inspired

As we build up to the three big races coming up, Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, Loskop Ultra and then Comrades Marathon, I am sharing various inspirational images on my Twitter and Instagram account. Follow me on @myownjourney_sa and enjoy these.

If you have a special short quote you like to share, please comment below and I can maybe include it in the collection.

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The balance between training runs and weekend races

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TeamVitality at Garbie 32km Race

To me there are basically three important races if you are training for Comrades Marathon, your weekend races, then your qualifier and then the biggy, Comrades. Those three, in that order.

I get really nervous when I hear people talk about their personal bests, week in and week out. Your Comrades training runs and weekend races are not to set up personal bests.

It involves a huge commitment when you decide to take on the iconic ultra of all ultras, “The Ultimate Human Race”, Comrades.

We usually meet up with running buddies and get so caught up in the hype of Comrades and before you know it you are onto it, convinced that you have to go all out on every run and run one PB after the other. Not so. Not necessary. In fact, you will gain less by doing that.

Races are an important part of Comrades, but they are not there to see how fast you can go or how many PBs you can run, they are then to keep you focused, they are there to bring that balance between a casual training run and a little more effort and to test your progress.

In my training runs, over the past three years of doing Comrades, I have always believed in a good mix up of runs. During my training runs I do speed work, hill training, some gym work ( although I have to admit, I am lazy with this ) and also do some slow runs and finish off the bouquet with some nice pace runs. PB’s do not make you fast, focusing on specifics during training do. Most Comrades runners will tell you that the only thing you will get from going all out at every single run is probably a good dose of fatigue and burnout and if you are one of the unlucky one, you can and often will end up with some injuries too.

Your training runs during the week should be the more relaxed ones where you get your needed kilometers on your legs and where you can test all your supplements, new running gear, your drinking habits etc. Your weekend races, because it is organised and more structured, will be more intense and ideal to focus on a little more pacing and rhythm and also help you to see how you manage the crowds at the start and on the route off course. It is important to finish your races feeling comfortable and more on the fresh side; not strained and definitely not sore. In fact, when you’re done, you should be able to turn around and do an easy four of five kilometers recovery run.

The weekend races form a really important part of your training and preparation for Comrades and should not be neglected. The training load you get from them is in general higher than what you get from your training runs during the week. Oh and it is a great opportunity to meet up with your team mates and friend and enjoy the time out on the road.

Know this, if you apply variety to your training program, your times will actually come down by themselves as you approach Comrades.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin

So, to recap, train hard, focus on your speed and stamina and then get your qualifier out of the way. A good qualifier will not only set you up for a Comrades start with a little more peace of mind, but it will also give you a good idea of where you are in terms of training. After that it is a good healthy balance between variety, quality and quantity. I am not going to get into details of how many kilos you should do a week, there are a variety of training guides out there for that and they also vary depending on what kind of runner you are. I do not think there a generic and single plan for all, in fact I know a few people who tried those and got into trouble at Comrades. Use these as guidelines.

Whatever you do, learn to apply self-discipline, be focused and do what is needed to get you first to the start line and then to the finish. And last but not least, do not underestimate Comrades. It is not called “The Ultimate Human Race” for nothing.

Happy training everyone.

A compliment from a friend

It was Leo Buscaglia who said,

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Today, this unexpected message from my good friend and mentor Dieter Gloeck totally took my by surprise. I once again realized how #blessed I am to live the life that I do. I cannot be more grateful for the “second chance” I got to change my own life into one worth living, to live my best possible life and for the opportunity to also help others do the same.

Thank you Dieter Gloeck for the kind word and for making this day a beautiful one. I appreciate it ! #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount #LiveLife#PayItForward Discovery Vitality #ASICSFrontRunner 

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Note : Of all runners Dieter Gloeck is the single person who knows me the longest; he met me through work when I was still overweight and a rather miserable person. Dieter really witnessed my whole journey from the very beginning. Read what he had to say about me and my journey at this link  http://myownjourney.co.za/self-discovery.htm on my web page.

PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race 2017 : My Six Year Anniversary Run

This morning’s PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race marked my six year running anniversary. This is where my running journey started, on the 29th of January 2011.

Let me take you back to that day real quick. There were more than 3000 athletes lining up that morning for the 10km and 21.1km races, but there was also the walkers and more specific, the 5km fun run group; I was lined up there. Although I was already two years into my weight loss journey, I have never done a single race in my life, and there I was, hoping to make the 5km with a combination of running and walking, hopefully no crawling. Well, I did finish with an ‘accomplished’ time of 00:30:20. For me the time was not important, I was just very happy to finish. I loved the whole vide of this event so much that I joined the Running Inn running club, bought my first running shoes, got my first ASA license that very day ( after the race ) and I guess I could then call myself a ‘runner’.

That morning Pieter Venter was also there, doing his first 10km race and also he never stopped. That day marked the beginning of new chapter for the both of us.

Following this event I started doing races on a regular basis and looked forward to every weekend because it meant, like I called it then, ‘races and places’. That gave birth to my current slogan I love to use – ‘Making Miles and Moments Count

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This morning, lining up for this very same event, I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude, feeling so blessed, that I can still do what I love and love what I do, running, sharing the road with so many awesome people and maintaining my healthy lifestyle and in the process encourage others to do the same, to live their best possible lives. Standing there at the start of this morning’s race I was taken back in time for a split moment to thàt first 5km fun run just a few blocks away from where we were this morning ( back then the race started at the back of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre ) and then an announcement by Pete brought me back to this morning’s event. I looked at Christo Lourens standing next to me and immediately thought of the #Road2Comrades2017 we are on, the road to his very first Comrades Marathon, my fourth. I thought to myself, ‘Here I am, six years down the road of my very own running journey and in a privileged position helping a friend to realize his very own Comrades dream.’ On the 4th of June I am determined to cross that finish line at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg with Christo Lourens next to me.

My message to everyone reading this is simple, ‘Let no one ever tell you that something is not possible, because it is.’ My favorite quote, the quote that carried me through my very first Comrades, are these words by the late Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ If you dream it, chances are pretty good that you can achieve it. With hard work and commitment the impossible is very possible. It is always within your reach to achieve extraordinary things. Believe it. Always remember, there are always something out there to help you achieve your goals, you just have to find it. For me, joining Discovery Vitality made a huge difference, helping me to stay focused, committed and determined to carry on and then also rewarding me for doing so. Never was it so simple to work out and get rewarded all at the same time.

Let me also take this opportunity to just thank everyone who was and still is part of my journey for your love, support and encouragement. No, it was not always easy and no things did not always worked out as planned, but, I never gave up, never quit, never opted for second best, I worked hard, pushed on, set new goals, leaned forward and reached out for what was ahead. All of you made that possible for me. If I had to do this alone, I am not sure that it would have played out this way at all. I’ve learned to never underestimate the value of a friend of fellow runner, because they are the people who lift us up when we need it most, when we are tired, discouraged and weary.

Happy running everyone and have fun chasing your dreams !

[ Read more about my journey here : http://www.myownjourney.co.za ] and follow me on Twitter or Instagram @myownjourney_sa ( links on my web page )