Sunday, February 28, 2021
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Melissa Groenewald

Embracing change

It’s finally here – move day.

After weeks of relentless wrapping and packing, it is finally time to pack it all, tie up loose ends and  leave.  Allow me to put this gently, this is not fun. Moving, going away from the things I have come to know and love is hard. Despite the incredible sense of adventure I am experiencing during this time, I am scared.

Embracing change is not a fun activity.  Most people I have come in contact with prefer to live life within a comfort zone.  After all, they call it a “comfort zone” for a reason – even the term itself stirs up deep feelings of calm, relaxation and security.

So, as I was sitting in my empty apartment ready to lock the door for the final time, I held my head high and realised that change happens to everyone.  Even though this is incredibly uncomfortable and really difficult – it is a part of life.  And me, being who I am, I got into the moving truck and promised myself that the next change will be easier. I will learn from this experience and I will embrace the change taking place in my life.

The good news is that embracing change is not a difficult skill to learn. Once you start looking at change as a good thing, there is a shift in perspective that takes place, and that is something money cannot buy.

Why is change a good thing?

  • Change challenges your values and beliefs: Reacting to change often involves re-evaluating your belief system. It is not a bad thing. This is often the start of new conversations with God. A chance to reach new depths in your relationship with him.
  • Change breaks up routines: So, if you are moving to a different country, time zones aren’t the only thing that will change. Don’t get me wrong, brushing your teeth and flossing are great things to keep as part of your routine, but some routines can leave you in a rut – and possibly even contribute to depression or stress. By breaking your routine, change keeps your mind active, refocusing your thoughts so your mind stays active and doesn’t become fixated on negative thought patterns.
  • Change offers opportunities: By altering the way you live life, even in a small way, change can present opportunities that can have a domino effect.  It providing you with more choices than you ever dreamed possible – so you can create a more fulfilling and authentic life.
  • Change teaches you flexibility:  By embracing change and meeting it head on with excitement, you can learn not to be so set in your ways.  This can help you maintain a more positive attitude.

Change the channel. Rip off the band-aid. Even go so far as to burn the entire book and pull a new one of the shelf. Start a new book! I know it sounds scary but do it anyway. Open the page and begin chapter one of the new story.

Live an extraordinary life

I have a bad habit of asking questions to strangers. Not creepy questions. If I see an eccentric person, I would ask them questions and most of the time, when they are willing to answer, I learn a whole lot from that conversation. I have been called out for this habit too many times, and I haven’t managed to stop yet.

Do you want to know why I enjoy it so much ? Because it’s how I’ve learnt some of the most valuable lessons.

The one thing I have noticed the most, is that it is always the artists, innovators, leaders or amazing entrepreneurs that seem to live effortlessly and who are getting ahead in life. Sure, they have struggles too, but what is even more interesting is that they aren’t necessarily the most talented people in the world. They often are not the smartest or the most hard-working people either. Yet, somehow, they achieve much more than the rest of us.

What is it that makes their lives so extraordinary?

Khalil Gibran said: ” Your living is determined by not so much what life brings to you but by the attitude you bring to life. Not so much by what happens to you but by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Now, this is much easier said than done, but I have dotted down a few (realistic) keys on how to live extraordinary.

1. Be confident: Do whatever you do without shying away. Be at ease with who you are in full knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. Act in ways conveying that you are aware of your limitations but are happy regardless.

2. Blunt honesty: The truth is sometimes scary and difficult. However, when you tell the truth, you not only set yourself apart from the majority, but also set yourself free to live without worry of contradicting yourself.

3. Allow change: Change is inevitable. Deal with signs of resistance and keep in mind that only you can allow change to take place and make a difference.

4. Show unexpected kindness: A simple act of kindness, no matter how small, is a powerful thing. It not only benefits another person’s life but changes your perspective and experience of life drastically.

5. Give genuine feedback: Express authentic appreciation for those who deserve credit and know the time and place to give constructive criticism.

Seek out an opportunity to life an extraordinary life today!

How to get through bad days

With the year that is slowly but surely coming to an end, I have taken a moment to just sit back and ruminate on everything that has happened. In my nostalgia, I have come to the conclusion that this year was crazy. It has been a year of getting to know my limits – a year of figuring out when to start and when to stop pushing; when to run face-first into things and when to actually slow down and walk a little or maybe sit down.

Recently, while sitting on my balcony watching the cars drive by, my flatmate asked me a simple, yet valid question: If you had a chance, would you change anything this year? Now, the first thing that popped up in my head was the classic “No, everything that happened, good or bad, made me the woman I am today. “ But then I took a second, and said yes. Yes, there are lots of moments that I would have changed if I had the chance. And if you are sitting there with a big fat no as your answer, you are lying because no matter how strong you believe they made you, somewhere deep inside you wish that it didn’t have to be so hard.

The reality, unfortunately is, that we cannot change these hard moments. But we can think about how they have shaped us into the human beings that we are today. We can see the good in every difficulty and most of all, we can celebrate when it is over. Most life lessons are only learnt after the hard moments, which is why we go through them.

Going through many hard days this year, and thinking about them, I came to think about things that got me through those days. So, without any further ado, here’s a list of things that got me through hard days:

  1. Being around people who love me: I remember being in a really bad place in March this year, and what really got me through the day is love. You need to read this again: what got me through the day was love. Real love. Not the romcom kind of love. I’m talking about the Jesus kind of love. See, when we face difficulties, it gets hard to feel the love. We get so focused on praying until this season is over that we get burnt out and we’re sometimes left feeling unloved. By being around people who love us the way Jesus loves us, we will be reminded of how great He truly is and that He will come through for us. Having someone be the hands and feet of Jesus can sometimes be the right motivation to keep going another day.
  2. Adventures: this sounds much bigger than it actually was. By adventures I mean doing something different – something you won’t do every day. Go outside for lunch instead of eating in your office. Make time for different things.
  3. Treat yourself with kindness: I had to convince myself that this is my process and it looks different that anyone else’s. By this I don’t mean sit and be sad about what is happening; I’m talking about doing the best I can and not going overboard. This has required me to motivate myself a few times with quick pep talks in the mirror: “No, you do not need to do any better than you are doing right now. You are doing great”.
  4. Say it as if you mean it: Nobody wants to say that everything will be okay if you know things are not looking great right now. But, the Bible promises that there’s power in our words and we need to make use of this power and speak life over any situation. Good or bad. Proverbs 18:21 in the Bible says the tongue has the power of life and death.

Lastly, treat yourself to some funny videos online and find things that make you laugh! Sometimes it is just as simple as that.

I don’t know what you have been through this past year. If it has been one of those years, why don’t you write down the things that helped you through in the comment box below…

Our hope is in Jesus

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Every time I hear the word “hope” I automatically think about the flowers and letters I received in hospital. I think about the stories and the visits. When I hear the word “hope”, I see myself standing in that open field, feeling the raindrops fall on my face and I remember thinking, “Just this moment is enough.”

When I hear the word “hope” I take myself back to that moment, because it was in that moment that I caught onto hope and decided not to let go.

Why am I writing this? Why am I mumbling about hope and light? Because if you are reading this, you are searching for light. You are looking for that spark to hint to you that everything will be okay. That things will turn out, maybe not the way you planned… but there is a possibility that it might turn out even better. And every word you read is another chance you give yourself to find hope. You are giving yourself a reason to search for the light. I am writing this because maybe, just maybe, you will see the light in my story and find the hope you need to get through this day.

Hope

I may never be able to truly understand the power of this word, or even fully grasp how hope has completely changed my life. But one thing I do know, is that hope is real. Hope is found in the places you forget to look. And the people alongside you are often the ones that point you in the direction of true hope.

Now, I am not the biggest fan of people (yes, they fail you sometimes!), but in this life, in your journey, you will need people because people carry the light of Jesus, and without that light things can get scary. You will need that light to shine through whatever it is that you are facing. You will need late night reminders that Jesus has not forsaken you. People carry that hope in them, and remind you of it.

We at 1Africa believe in hope. We believe that hope is more than just a word. Because if you have hope, no matter how hard things might get, tomorrow seems possible.

We would love to hear your stories of how hope has changed your life. Share your hope today!

What does it mean to have hope in Jesus?

The word “hope” in ordinary English vocabulary is generally distinguished from certainty. We would say, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I hope it will be something good. ”

When we read about hope in the Bible, hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is not a plan B if my current plan doesn’t work out. Having your hope anchored in Jesus means that you trust Him and His promises. Having Jesus-hope is having confidence that whatever it is you are hoping for will come to pass.

“Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” – 1 Peter 1:13

Hope is a portion of our faith. Faith and hope, in my mind, are overlapping realities: Hope is faith in the future tense – most of faith is hope. Just like faith, hope is strengthened by the word of God and is encourages the growth of faith.

“Faith comes by hearing the word of God” – Romans 10:17

Four reasons to have hope in Jesus

The Bible is filled with messages of hope, and those messages can illuminate event the darkest night. Here are a few Bible verses to give you confidence to place you hope in Jesus.

1. You are not forgotten: “But God remembered Noah and the wild animals, and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded.” – Genesis 8:1

2. God brought you to it, He will get you through it: “He has brought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace, in which we now live. And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory! We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval and his approval creates hope.” – Romans 5:2-4

3. He promises confidence within hope:“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called – His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance.” –Ephesians 1:18

Having hope in Jesus is more than just crossing your fingers, making a wish, or having a plan B. Hope in Jesus is knowing that He’s got this.

So, today, look away from the confronting circumstances that are standing in front of you. Look to His promises, and hold on tight. Hope is attainable through Jesus and He is bigger than any of the ravages that this world brings.

On 25 September, Christians all over the world are sharing a single message of hope in Jesus on Facebook. If you want to be a part of this campaign, join the Facebook Event to find out more!

Will you dare to have hope?

Humans have definitions of hope that are different from God’s. We hope for things to work out, or for that job, or maybe for the blood tests to be clear. God’s definition of hope is not a hope-so but a know-so.

The hope that God offers is much more than a feeling: It’s the reality of His presence with you. You can experience that hope in any situation – even if your health fails, you lose your job, your spouse leaves, or some other tragedy hits you. Here’s how to find hope in any situation:

  • Praise Him even when it’s hard: This is a difficult one. Have you ever heard the phrase “there is power in praise”? No? Well, when confronted with a hopeless situation, praising God is not easy. It is not easy praising God for His goodness while you are actually screaming on the inside. The word “praise” is defined as an expression of warmth, approval, or admiration. Praising God should not be limited to a certain way of doing. Remember God looks at your heart. As long as you are real with Him He will provide breakthrough in your life.

“Why am I so troubled, why am I so sad? I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise Him, my savior and my God” – Psalm 43:5

  • Keep knocking on God’s door through prayer: His word is true and He is faithful in His promises. When a situation seems hopeless, the best thing to do is tell God how you are feeling. It doesn’t have to be big-word-pastor-like prayers. Talk to God, like you would speak to your best friend.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door  will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives.” – Matthew7:7

  • Choose to trust: When something bad happens in your life, don’t respond by arguing with or against God. Choose to trust that He does have His best plans reserved just for you and within this situation there is a reason for the struggle.

Why choose hope in Jesus?

The moment you place your hope and trust in Jesus and His promises, things change. You stop surviving and you actually start living. You can enjoy life to the fullest.  Hope in Jesus makes you move forward, deletes regrets, and underlines expectation.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promises is faithful” – Hebrews 10:23

No matter how hopeless a situation may seem, it’s always worth staying hopeful, because God has the power to change circumstances dramatically at any time.

A journey of hope

Losing hope was never something I planned on doing.

Hope used to be my best friend, but at times hope was mistaken for temporary lights. To me, hope was disguised as a cloudy day.

I will never forget how much I hated being alive. I hated breathing, walking, talking. Especially that day. It was the first Sunday I went to church after being in rehab, and I honestly wish I could testify to some God-moment where I experienced some magnificent light and everything suddenly made sense. But I can’t.

The entire service I wanted to walk out of that building and run as fast as I possibly could. I wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere else. In that moment of walking out of church – possibly walking into my next suicide attempt – a friend stopped me. Later, we drove to a massive open field in the middle of the mountains.

As we got out of the car, it started to rain. But not the pouring rain you see in the movies – it was light, soft raindrops. Standing in the middle of nowhere, vulnerable and broken, I had no hope. I could not see how anything good could come out of the place that I was in.

I felt hopeless.

As the mist of the surroundings covered our bodies in that field, my friend prayed for me. When you get to a point where you do not want tomorrow to happen, prayer is not something you want. Prayer is mistaken for weakness. Prayer is giving up. Or at least that’s what I thought. That’s what society taught me. He prayed a small child-like prayer and we got into the car and left.

May I tell you a secret? That child-like prayer was not my destination of hope – but after that prayer I knew where to find it. I knew that my quest had reached its destination, and that I had found the one thing that would become my weapon in every fight. I knew that hope – real hope – was found in Jesus.

Today I choose hope. I choose Jesus.

Don’t stop reading! I know this may sound like just another Christian cliché but it is as real and true as it can get. The fact is, until we make a choice to make our hope-destination Jesus, we will constantly get stuck in temporary things. Things that will fail us.

It’s no secret that we live in a time where hope is hard to find. We live in a world where hope is hidden, or portrayed as wishful thinking. But Jesus promises that if we look for Him, we will find Him. And in Him lies the hope that we need. The hope that will not fail us.

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” – Jeremiah 29:13

Is your hope based on temporary things? Or is your hope founded in the solid rock that is Jesus?

Building a foundation of hope

So you’ve lost hope. You have tried everything. Perhaps you have even been going to church more than usual – but life just seems to be too much and you are drowning. The storms of life have gotten you to your knees.
Allow me to assure you: You are not a misfit and you are not alone.
There has been a misconception among Christians that when things get tough and you lose hope – whether it is hope about your future, your vision, or what it is that God has called you to do – it is “wrong”. That losing hope is some form of “backsliding”.
It has recently occurred to me that, most of the time when we see a brother or sister losing hope, we tend to focus on and explain “the water” while they are drowning. We talk about their problems instead of simply reaching out. Now, this may not be something you’ve experienced, but let me tell you, it happens – more often than it should.
This misconception that Christians are immune to losing hope has gotten me to a point of actual anger. Even if you do know Jesus personally and you have accepted Him as your Lord and Saviour you can still lose hope sometimes. Let’s see what the Bible says:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” – Proverbs 13:12
This means that when (not if) our hopes are delayed, we can be overcome by a deep sense of despair.
I wish I could emphasise this more– we need to not just stand by and notice each other losing hope but actually take part and assist where we can!
It is easy to build a Christian Foundation with someone who is doing good, has a steady job, and is emotionally established, but it becomes hard to maintain that relationship when things get rocky and your friend lost his job or he experienced the death of a close relative. And the time when things get hard – that’s when you build a foundation that will last. That’s when you should stick around and stir up the last bit of hope left in that friend.
How do I do that ?
1. Turn to God’s Word. When supporting a friend that lost hope,  not knowing what to say is common. The fact is we do not have all the answers and, to be frank, we aren’t supposed to know everything. Remember that the Bible is the Living Word of God and even though you do not always know what to say, He does. Focus on the simple verses. The ones that are easy to understand and easy to remember.
2. Walk, run, or sit together. The hardest thing to do when you already feel weakened by a difficult situation is to fight alone. Now, you might not be able to fight the battle for them, but you can be there. Be present. Be Jesus’ hands and feet wherever you can. This will cultivate a stronger relationship, and when you focus on Jesus all the time, your relationship is rooted in Him.
3. Speak your heart. If an encouraging thought comes to mind, share it! It may not have the same effect if you wait. Don’t let shyness hold you back. Instead, form a new habit:
“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today…”  – Hebrews 3:13
Supporting goes straight to the heart. Knowing what you can do to help others and taking action will not only stir up hope within them, but encourage you to extend your faith onto someone else.
On 25 September, Christians across the globe will share a single message of hope in Jesus. Click here to find out more and join in!

Missing types: Do you h_ve wh_t they need?

Wondering where our A’s have gone? Here’s a hint: You can give it away, but you can’t live without it. Letters — A’s, B’s and O’s, the letters used to identify the main blood types — are disappearing from signs and even social media platforms everywhere. 

The National Public Health Service in the UK have been running a campaign since last year to create awareness on the importance of donating blood. This might sound like a small, simple gesture, but this innovative campaign prompted more than 30 000 people to donate blood, which proves that whatever they did, worked.

This year more countries — from South Africa to Singapore to Brazil — are joining in. The US Blood Service is asking people to “find the her_ in y_u.”

The success of this simple campaign, which appeals to the generosity in people and asks them to give away something that they take for granted, inspired me to ask a simple question to myself: “What if I am equally generous with my faith?” Just like our blood, “giving it away” simply creates room for more.

As humans, we cannot live without blood, and in the current state of the world, I believe we need to be “donating” much more than the missing letters in our blood stream. Something only we have: we need to be giving hope to others. The kind of hope that can only be found in Jesus.

Go and donate blood today, and in the 15 minutes you are lying there, kill the time by donating a little bit of your faith too… you never know, it could save a life!

Wayde van Niekerk: ‘Jesus did it’

The 24-year-old Wayde van Niekerk made history on Sunday night and held up the South African flag with pride, winning the gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics 400m and obliterating Michael Johnson’s world record of 43.18 seconds set in 1999.

The race started bright and early at 03:00 CAT, and as van Niekerk’s die-hard fans stormed up the Twitter feeds of Rio 2016 followers the excitement was tangible. The athlete ran in the unfavoured eighth lane, but kept the lead throughout the race. All eight athletes completed the race under 44.61 seconds – which goes to show that he certainly wasn’t up against a bunch of slowpokes.

After his race, Wayde gave glory to God for his performance on social networks:

It goes to show that humility runs through this gold medalist’s veins, and despite being the new World Record holder, he remains thankful to his fans, his supporters, and to God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VXMdx7x2zQ

Wayde is not only a legend in athletic history but proves to be an inspiration to many young athletes, sportsmen, and dreamers. Congrats, Wayde!

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