Parenting your child towards faith

bible

Do you want your children to believe? Do you wonder what your role is as a parent in bringing your children to faith? I came across several chapters from the book “Faith-shaped Kids – Helping your Child Grow Spiritually” by Stephen and Valerie Bell, which challenged me to take serious my role of parenting my children spiritually.

I share excerpts directly from the book for you to selah about.

a) First, as long as God honors free will, there are no guarantees that your children will come to believe. That means Christian parents can still have children who reject the Christian faith. But even with such a scenario, parents are not impotent when it comes  to their children’s faith.

b) Parents are far more influential in a child’s faith development than most realise. Parents, to an incredible extent, are the number one defining factor in a child’s ability to embrace God. Parents and children are so intimately linked spiritually that you cannot talk about a child’s faith without also talking about the faith of the parent. Faith formation in children is actually a group experience; it’s not something we teach kids but something we all get to learn together.

c) The solution to the Christian parent’s most pressing question, “How can I help my child to believe?” is not answered primarily through a systems grid but through the relational grid. Relationship is the greatest faith-shaping tool a parent posseses.

d) Faith formation in kids is never just about the kids. Parents, for better or worse, are joined to their children at the faith hip. One’s growth stimulates the other. One’s pain hurts the other. We intimately travel the faith journey together.

e) God also parents our children and He always writes the final chapter. God is closer, more caring and much more involved in your children’s lives than you may have understood before.

f) No parental passion is more worthy for any parent’s child than that the child should be gifted in faith. Why faith? Because no other life blessing is more crucial and determinative. Next to faith, all other blessings pale. Faith is life’s most outstanding asset. It gives the greatest leg up in life. It boosts other giftedness to supernatural levels. Faith sustains life – it is the food of the soul. A trusting relationship with God is life’s greatest treasure.

g) Without God’s influence on your children, their intelligence is just brain cells – sometimes poorly used, misused or not used at all. Inspiration makes the difference between someone who is just a card-carrying member of Mensa and someone whose genius is inspired to labour and sacrifice on a focused cause that will change the world for the better. High IQ without the ability to tap into God’s wisdom is a highly limited resource – one that always falls short of its world-impacting promise.

h) Athletic ability and a well-trained body are great gifts. But don’t overlook the importance of having a spiritual edge – the ability of your children to renew their strength in the Lord; they will soar on wings like eagles. In life, it’s often faith – that spiritual edge – that achieves the impossible win.

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i) Even the resources of great wealth stand powerless to buy the most precious commodities of love, contentment and belonging. A secular life, even one with great privilege, is the most underprivileged life of all. Secular thinking reduces life to the cold hard facts of cause and effect. Mystery and miracle cease to exist. Awe and wonder are topics left unexplored.

j) Faith is the recognition that God is with us and is for us. Faith is the spotlight that shines into life’s darkest moments and shows the way through the seemingly impassable abyss. Faith is the interior muscle that refuses to give up when swamped by tears and discouragement. Faith is life’s sweetener. It is the midwife of hope, the birther of comfort. Faith is the crazy courage that moves mountains that reason declares immovable. Faith is the limitless spiritual resource when human reserves are depleted. It is the smile of the Spirit, the hug of God, the knowing beyond knowing. To live  a life of faith, to experience life as a friend of God is to live the most privileged life.

k) Your passion shapes your kids’ values. If you hold the conviction that faith is the greatest life advantage, you must set your heart toward it. Look at your heart. What passionate messages are you giving your kids? Kids just know. They read us at a deep intuitive level. Sometimes they read our passions better than we do ourselves. It seems children are intrinsically skilled at two things: happily for us, forgiveness is one of them. The other skill they seem to universally possess is the uncanny ability to clearly read their parent’s passions. Say what you want but if the passion is missing, they will sense what really matters to you. If faith is not “impassioned” by parents, a child quickly learns that spirituality is probably not worth much of a life investment, certainly not something worth the intensity of long-haul discipleship.

l) God gives faith but parents shape it. Spiritual education that leads to true spiritual formation is about relationship more than curriculum. Faith-shaped kids are most readily developed through faith-shaped parents. Dad and mom matter more than peers, environment, school, church or any other form of formal religious education.

m) From the parable of the sower  (Mathew 13:3-8) God plants the seed of faith freely even in places that are not reasonable for growth. He is indiscriminate, desiring that all should come to Him. As the seeds of faith are scattered, we do not need to spend an ounce of worry concerning whether the planted faith can grow in our child’s heart. God always does his part.

n) The daily sharing of family life gives you access to your child’s soul like no other person. If there’s authentic connectedness in the home, a child will benefit immensely often not only to the point of faith but to a special spiritual sensitivity, even a rare kind of spiritual giftedness.

0) Living with faith-shaped parents gives children an opportunity for exposure to God and to more mature faith. Until children have lived through their own God-rescued moments, until they recognise the signs of God leading and are spiritually mature, before they know how to trust God themselves, they will need to see that God is trustworthy based on the track record in their parents’ lives. Children with immature root systems grow in the garden of their parents’ faith.

p) As parents, look to become spiritual opportunists, finding ways “whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning” (Deut 11:19) to say, “This is my God. This is how you recognise Him working in your life. This is a sign He’s here with us. Learn to look at life from a bigger perspective than human eyesight. Trust God.”

q) You can show your children how eternal truths can jump of the pages of Scripture into real life, how words from sermons can be especially intended for us, how God becomes part of our internal dialogue through prayer. You share a walk of faith with your children, not just a set of beliefs.

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Close of a Woman Holding a Bible

Every woman should know how to cook

food woman

A woman should know how to cook.

I will start with a disclaimer: I am not a great cook; but I am a learning, growing one. I love good food. And because of that I know I will one day be a great cook. I have to keep improving my game.

I haven’t always been of this opinion that a woman should know how to cook because for the longest time I did not know how to make good or interesting meals. My food was blah blah at best  when I had the courage to make it. I don’t remember anyone teaching me how to cook save for pilau that my mum loved to make – but which I have had to perfect via online tutorials. So most of my culinary skills were by trial and error; lots of errors.

But after coming from the sort of village where ugali cabbage with potatoes is a delicacy and after eating bad boarding school food for half of my life (that still haunts my dreams), you can understand why I would never want to taste bad food for another day of my life if I can help it.

So slowly I got the confidence to start trying different foods for myself, no matter how awful it turned out. My son is the next best guinea pig 🙂

Every subsequent meal became better. I still self teach a lot of meals by trial and error but Food Channel, recipe websites and Facebook pages [such as Let Us Cook Kenyan Meals) as well as food bloggers like Kaluhi’s Kitchen have become my salvation in that department.

If you are a woman, you need to know how to cook well. If you plan to “keep” a home, learn to cook. When I think of a home I think of a warm place with lots of laughter, tea in the thermos and a pot of food cooking somewhere. Home is where the food is.

If you love good food, you need to know how to cook well. If you marry a man who loves his food you need to know how to cook. More even so, if you marry a man who doesn’t eat, you need to know how to whip up heaven’s delights in the kitchen to get him to go beyond thinking a cup of tea is dinner.

If you are ever going to have children, you need to know how to make good food to make them stop camping at the neighbours for meals because they are dreading what will be served at home. And if you plan to practice is hospitality, make good food; not all your guests will give you a day’s notice to allow you to hire a chef.

Oh, and stop the excuses of oh, he can’t fix a bulb, oh he cannot fix the broken seat… just learn to make a few meals.

I am never embarrassed to ask for a recipe whenever I see or taste something great. I am never afraid of making mistakes in the kitchen even though my hubs is not the most forgiving of awful food. What’s important is I learn what works or what doesn’t and what can be done differently.

Cooking makes me feel terrifically feminine. Being able to make a good meal gives me self confidence. Filling up my guests  makes me happy. And seeing hubs enjoy a meal does it for me any day.

At the basic minimum, every  Kenyan woman should be able to make:

French toast (Toast mayai)

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Or at least to toast bread. Or fry and egg. Something for breakfast.

Pancakes

There shall come a time in your life when you will be needed to make pancakes. Learn at least one recipe. It can save your life or a relationship.

Beef stew (or chicken or fish)

Every woman needs a signature stew that will forever remind her children of home. Make it as unique or as general as you. Perfect it. It can be eaten with ugali or rice or mashed potatoes or the chapatis you bought across the road.

Magic

This is the meal you whip up from the remains from your fridge and pantry- it can be pilau njeri, vegetable stew, spaghetti mathogothanio… whatever. You should be able to walk into a broke kitchen and make a meal out of mismatched ingredients like a bunch of broccoli, two gizzards, two potatoes and a cup of rice.

Real Kenyan tea

chai

Anything with tea bags doesn’t count.

Porridge

Without the lumps. Because you will have  a sick boyfriend or husband or mother whose stomach can only stand thin uji, because you will be lactating and need milk, because you have babies.

Chapati

You can’t brag you know how to cook if you can’t make chapatis that make all the bachelors in your circle want to move into your house.

Rice

If you can’t make any rice cook well, invest in very good rice. I can swear by Sunrice orange pack and Ranee maroon pack.

Mandazi

A nice to have skill once you have kids.

Ugali

Yes you are Kenyan so learn to make ugali. Keke! It’s fast, easy and a go-to meal when you need a full stomach and can be eaten with almost anything, including chai and turungi (strong tea).

A legume stew

ndengu-kenyan-stew

Dengu/lentils/beans.

A fried veg

It could be sukuma, cabbage, stir fry… whatever. Perfect something that gives you plate balance and helps digestion.

Finally depending on whom you date or marry and the tastes of your children, you will have to learn certain meals. My son loves pilau and chipo so I have had to learn to make them. Some of your home mates will demand creamed ndengu or mukimo or enchisagasaga, coconut beans and omena. Learn, grow.

 

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Want to be happy in marriage?

 

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I heard recently: There are no bad marriages; just bad people getting into marriages. I am a believer in marriage. I believe great marriages are made in heaven because it takes God to stay happy and married.  And I am a sucker for great relationships. So here I share  my favourite gems to help make you a better spouse:

1.Get in with a till-death-do-us part mindset.

Once you remove the exit clause from your marriage, you know you now have to work at your relationship unless you want to be miserable the rest of your life. It also puts perspective to your problems. You do not disown your child no matter what they do. Your sister remains your sister no matter how messed up she is. Look at marriage with those eyes: We are here for the long haul so we might as well make it worth it.

2.Big stones in first.

This is allegory is used to allude to the importance of priorities. Important things need to be worked on first before the small things. What’s important in your life? What are the things that need to be working in your life for you to feel happy and fulfilled and together enough to meet the world head on?

What are the things you would never want to fail at? I know I need to feel successful as a wife and mother.

What would you likely to fondly remember on your death bed? What would you like to be said of you when you are gone? If you knew you had one month to live, what would you spend it doing?  These are your big stones. For most us this includes family, relationships and our health.

3. Don’t be fooled by the green grass across the fence; you haven’t seen their water bill or what they have to pay the caretaker.

So you see photos of their exotic travel on social media or their big house and fast car and envy how happy they are, how perfect their life is… you do not know their story until you have walked in their shoes. May be he took on the holiday you are pressuring your husband about because he needed to make up for something major he did. Run your race; live your life by your goals. That’s how you will know of you have been successful. Set your goals as a family, decide what it means to arrive for the two of you and try to achieve that. Of course this will change as you change as individuals and as a couple. Just make sure you are running your own race, not one set by your pastor, parents, friends or some magazine couple. Quit putting pressure on yourself, your children and your spouse by what you see in other people’s lives. We are given each according to our abilities and that is how we will be judged.

4. Marriage is not a competition.

It’s not about who is right and who is wrong or who got there first. It’s about what brings you together as a couple. It is about connecting, interacting, companionship,  enjoying the journey TOGETHER. It is about being happy you have someone to share your life with, to exchange experiences, to share the workload and worries and expenses, to attend parent’s meeting at school on your behalf because you have to travel, to help you lull the baby to sleep at 3am because you are beat, to hold your hand through old age or sickness.

So you were right and he was wrong? Does insisting on that fact help your marriage? So you brought in a bigger pay cheque or stayed up all night to lull the sick child? You are all bringing something to the same table; you are a team, with different contributions. As a team, sometimes you will need to put in more to help one who is weak, but as long as each of you keeps trying their best, you will be fine.

One of the greatest marriage wisdom I ever received was, “Do you want to be right or to be married.” That came with the realization that insisting on my own wisdom may ruin my marriage, especially that I am a know-it-all. Humility calls for sometimes seeing things fall apart and letting them do so because the world doesn’t stop spinning because you lost money in an unwise investment decision. You protect your partner’s pride and confidence and they will honour you for that, and hopefully remember to listen to your input the next time.

5. Work at it.

The second law of thermodynamics states that every system left to its own devices always tends to move from order to disorder, its energy tending to be transformed into lower levels of availability, finally reaching the state of complete randomness and unavailability for further work. If you don’t put in any energy towards your marriage, it will die. Or be very malnourished.

We have all seen malnourished relationships where one partner is fighting for love and attention or both have given up and live their lives apart, like two strangers who share a bed. Is that what you want for your relationship? If not then you have to put stuff in. One author called it the love bank. You put in coins so that when you need something, you have a deposit to withdraw from. Does your wife like hanging out with you? Let her. Take a walk with her, take her to visit her distant relative, read a book with her, just sit quietly watching the trees or hills. You are putting currency on your love bank. Does your husband want a clean orderly home, with well cooked food and a beautiful looking woman? Put effort into that. Please him. You are adding notes your love bank.

Be careful about withdrawing and withdrawing without putting in as much. My pastor gave the example one Sunday of a man who never helps his wife with anything at home. When they get to bed, of course she will have a real headache because she is tired. The ATM is saying, “You have insufficient funds to complete this transaction.”

6. Practice generosity

There is nothing like meanness when it comes to killing passion and friendship. Married people can be real mean to one another. We are mean with our time, with compliments, with our bodies, with money, with our friendships… True love gives and gives generously. It gives from a place of non-coercion and joy and service but it also gives because it knows that is what is expected. How can you better serve your partner? How can you be generous with your spouse? What costs you little to give but you have been holding back?

7. Talk to each other.

About important things like saving for your children’s school fees and to build a home, and about unimportant things like how tight the TV presenter’s dress is and how the rain has a nice smell. As long as you keep talking, you will have opportunity to say the things that need to be said before stuff festers and erupts in an ugly scene; or before it gets forgotten until there is a major blow up as your husband wonders why he is hearing for the first time that you are in a multimillion chama from a newspaper article. Or the wife is wondering why he never mentioned he emptied their emergency savings account to do God knows what with the money.

I like to know that I can talk about small unimportant things with my spouse- it means that we respect each other enough to be interested in what the other person has to say even if it sounds unimportant. The other person thought “street lighting systems” or “the heat wave”enough to put it in a conversation. Listen, hear, understand his/her worldview.

8. Finally, let go of stuff.

When two people, especially who have been brought in different environments, live in close proximity of each other, they will rub each other the wrong way. They will say things they shouldn’t have said. They will refuse to do things they should have done. They will do little things that annoy the hell out of the other person. There will be friction. There will be kuzoeana (taking each other for granted). Then there will be the big things. One person will cheat. Another will squander family resources. Another will be physically and emotionally violent. Can we forgive? Can we extend the grace we ourselves have received from God who no longer counts ours sins against us? Can we get reconciled?

The secret to staying happy is choosing to be happy. By holding a grudge you take away your own joy. By keeping scores of wrong done you chose to carry a heavy load that takes away your happiness and energy. Choose to be happy in your marriage regardless of the actions of the other party. Every day wake up and make a mental note to enjoy your life. I promise you that you will.

 

The wife as a helper

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I came across this article on the Web on how wives can be suitable helpers to their husbands.

Gen 2:18
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will
make him a helper suitable for him.”
I frequently warn ladies not to “ be the Holy Spirit to their husbands.” It has proven
unwise for a woman to attempt to correct her husband’s flaws. Ironically, a wise woman
will often be like the Holy Spirit in three wonderful ways.
By her words and actions a Godly wife respectively serves her husband as his:
Helper/Teacher – she reminds him of God’s Word
John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance
all that I said to you.
Helper/Counselor –she guides him into truth
John 16:7-13 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will  not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning
righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. “I have many more things  to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.
Helper/ Intercessor –she prays on his behalf
Rom 8:26-27 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Being a good wife is not about your husband

Woman-Praying-Jill

I want to share this post by Kendi Ashitiva, a former Tukuza host, on being a godly wife because it ministered to me. My aha moment is when she notes that the holy spirit andthe wife are both referred to as helpers. May be we can learn from the Holy Spirt’s work on how to be true helpers.

I hope it ministers to all women seeking to be godly wives. Here is her post:

“I have always thought of myself as a pretty good wife. I mean I kept a clean house, made nice healthy meals, I kept everyone warm with appropriate clothes and bedding, I took care of the sick. I mean I was a wonderful woman ‪#‎Proverbs31woman!!!

“However a few days ago as I was praying, I began to pray for my marriage and I was going to gloss over it because I thought hey I have a great marriage!!! However the Holy Spirit led me not to pray for my husband but to repent for areas where I was falling short as a wife!!! You should have seen my face, I was like say what!

“But as I began to allow God to deal with my heart, I began to see what God was talking about. I wept and wept with such sorrow as I began to repent for not being fully submitted to my husband as the Lord would want me to. I began to see how I see my husband through the world’s eyes and not through the eyes of God.

“I repented for times when I wasn’t patient with him or I didn’t truly support him like the Lord would have me support him. I repented for secretly holding resentment and offenses against him. Things I wasn’t even aware I was doing. I began to see what a horrible wife I was.

“Here is the interesting thing folks, my husband thought I was an AWESOME WIFE, but God tells me NO you are not AN AWESOME WIFE. According to his standards (GOD) I was falling short. I was lacking in patience, I was lacking understanding, I was lacking in forbearance.

“Friends as I lay on the floor crying to God to change my heart and help me be a better wife to this amazing man he gave me, I began to understand that being a wife IS A HIGH CALLING. I began to see myself for who I really was not WHO I THOUGHT I WAS.

“Forget how the world defines being a wife as looking hot, dropping it like it is hot and remaining as age defying as you can possibly be. I began seeing that being a wife is no joke! The only two people called HELPERS in the Bible are A WIFE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. And what does the Holy Spirit do? He comforts, he teaches, he guides, convicts and instructs with such gentleness etc.

“I began to understand that I am only a good wife by Gods standard not by anyone’s not even my husbands. I began to appreciate that I can never be a great wife in my own strength. I have to lean on the Holy Spirit to help me be a GODLY WIFE. Friends everyone can be a wife but not everyone one is a godly wife.

I began to see how I was lacking in wisdom, in grace, in humility oh my goodness I was so off the mark yet everyone around me thought I was AMAZING including me. Being a wife is a high calling ladies, so the next time you are praying for your marriage, stop and pray for yourself, ask God to show you areas where you are falling short according to HIS standards. Are you truly walking in humility?

“Or are you quietly resentful and angry about one thing or another, are you envious or jealous of other people’s husbands, are you secretly comparing your husband with other men, are you insecure and scared? Where do you get your standards from, society, culture, religion or God himself?

“Granted all marriages go through challenges including mine but when the trumpet sounds and you and I stand before the FATHER we will all account for our roles as WIVES? So the next time you see those shiny rings on anyone’s fourth finger, next time one of your girlfriends gets engaged be reminded that rings are not just cute, they are a SYMBOL, A SYMBOL OF A VERY HIGH CALLING! THAT OF BEING A WIFE, A GODLY WIFE!

“Dear Lord, create in me a clean heart towards my husband, remove all areas of pride, resentment, anger and unforgiveness. Deal with frustration, disappointments and regret.

“Lord heal any past, present and future hurt and help me be the wife you want me to be. Search me Oh Lord and know my heart, and make my life pleasing to you in public and in private In JESUS NAME. Amen and Amen.”

15 tips for effective disciplining

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Because I have still been trying to figure out the whole child discipline issue, I was glad when at  parenting seminar at my son’s school, Dr Kinyanjui Ng’ang’a gave some pointers on disciplining children. He is a motivational speaker and coach.

Here are some points I garnered:

  1. When you say something, say it as if it is the first time. This hits home for all mothers who feel as if they have to sing a song plus it’s chorus to get heard by their kids. Don’t give in to frustration. It may be the 17th time you are repeating an instruction but do it anyway, focusing on the behaviour in question, not the problem with the child’s head or ears.
  2. Children are in need of attention and affirmation. Listen to them. Affirm them continuously. Switch off the phone and TV and you will be surprised how much your children have to share with you.
  3. Lower your tone. Whenever you raise your voice you are behaving like a mad person and mad men are not communicators.
  4. Address the issue at hand. Don’t make issues personal. The issue is why your child has not tidied up his room, not what is wrong with him. Focus on the tidying up.
  5. Empathise. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Acknowledge what your child is going through. Tell them that you once felt or did the same things they are doing — you played truant in school. You weren’t always number one in your class. Look at your child remembering you once behaved as they are now.
  6. Look for the good in your child, not the dirt. Don’t be a fault finder. There is no perfect child. If you look for the good you will find it. And if you look for the faults you will find them.
  7. Correct unwanted behaviour. Children expect you to be and respect you for being principled. Be consistent. Be predictable. When you do not punish bad behaviour yet the child expects it, you are doing them a disservice. From the ages of 0-7, children understand corporal punishment. From age 7-12, withdraw privileges; that’s painful for them. From age 13-19 negotiate with them. Never miss a chance to punish a child when they do wrong. Be consistent.
  8. Don’t punish at the height of anger and emotion. Don’t use the same hands you use to hug to spank your child.
  9. Your child should never learn to defy authority. When your child defies authority they are asking who is in charge here? You will be setting them up for problems with  rebellion in school and in employment.
  10. Never threaten your children. Follow through with what you say you will do.
  11. Praise in public, reprimand in private. Children have self esteem issues just like adults.
  12. Reward desired behaviour. What you praise flourishes.Don’t reward natural gifts and beauty. Reward effort. Reward accomplishment.
  13. Keep your word. Don’t promise what you can’t give. A reward must be valued by the recipient. Buy gifts your children can use. Buy what’s important for them.
  14. Watch your tongue. Whether spoken accidentally or in purpose, the spoken word will accomplish it’s purpose. Speak life into the future of your children. Avoid accidents with your tongue.
  15. Train your child. Lead in what you do. Great parents inspire. If you invest in your children you do not have to invest for them.

Bonus point: Don’t try to be your child’s friend. Children know how to make their own friends. You are their parent.