What I wish my son would learn in kindergarten

school-gavi

In January this year my son started school. Unlike many first time parents, I wasn’t apprehensive about the big step; mostly, because I needed him out of the house and around other kids and because I felt he was developmentally  ready for this new big challenge.

I hoped he would learn his ABCDs and counting and reading. But more importantly:

I hoped he would cope fine in school. May be even excel at some things. May be he will be the kid who runs the fastest at sports day or leads the national anthem or takes to water like a fish. Anything really.Even if it’s being the first to finish his food.

I hoped he would fall in love with learning or school activities or the school bus or his teachers or fellow classmates that school would be a delight.I hoped he would discover the magical world that lies between the pages of a book instead of seeking stimulation from gadgets and TV.

I hoped he would make friends and learn to work with others. My son loves playing on his own and I often find myself ejecting him out of the house to play with other kids. I didn’t want him to be a loner. So for the entire first term, day after day I quizzed him about his friends. For a while he had no names. Then they started trickling in. The deskie whose leg has plaster. The swimming pal who holds his hand. The girl who spills her food every lunch time. My little champ was getting out of his shell.

I hoped he would be confident. That he would learn to speak up and for himself. That he will speak his mind.  That he will learn to talk to grown ups without cowering. That he will stop hiding under my skirt.

I prayed that the potty training would finally stick. That he will stop thinking it’s cool to wet himself. That he will learn to use the bathroom before he reaaally has to go or after he has had an accident.

I hoped he would get indoctrinated into wiping his nose and not licking it. Snout is disgusting even to mummies and handkerchiefs are not fashion accessories for little boys. I also didn’t want kids in his class to remember him as the boy with two rivers perpetually running from his nose.

I hoped he would learn to pray. That he would be God aware. Because it’s beautiful when little hearts can put their trust in a big God.

I hoped he would learn to share. Not just because generosity is a virtue but also because it prevents a lot of problems and fighting among preschoolers.

I hoped he would learn kindness. Because he shares the planet with other people. Because life does not revolve around him. Other kids have needs. Mummies have needs. Teachers have needs. There was going to be no space for being an entitled little brat.

I hoped he would learn that people are different but the same. That school, would expose him to children with different living arrangements, and from different schools of thought and with different skin colour and hair so he does not get stuck in the small ecosystem that is the Muse household.

That he would learn courtesy and respect. Thank you. Please. Excuse me. Not competing with grown ups. Not talking back at grown ups. That no unwholesome talk may come out of his mouth.

That he would learn to talk properly. He would speak good English and Kiswahili and know the difference between the two. That his tenses would catch so he stops saying “the car goed [went]…”

I hoped he would learn to feed himself and not take three hours to finish his lunch.

I hoped he would learn to be safe and to speak out when his boundaries are crossed. This country has some twisted people and child abuse is one of those things we pray to never happen. I needed him to learn about stranger danger, about good and bad strangers. About how to be safe when playing or riding his bike or when at the mall. I needed him to learn about inappropriate touching and when to tell mummy or daddy.

I needed him to learn to wash his hands. because those little hands carry flu after flu, stomach upset after stomach upset. And because little dirty hands are gross. That he would always remember to wash his hands after using the toilet. After playing outside. Before eating.

I hoped he would learn honesty, and to respect other people’s property. No stealing. No lying. And no crying for other people’s toys. Also no fighting and hitting other kids. Because no one loves a bully. And no one loves to be bullied. That he would do to others what he wanted done to himself.

Finally I hoped he would learn to be independent. No more hanging by mommy’s skirts. He would be courageous to go out and play alone without being chaperoned. That he would even seek out new experiences and friends without me pushing them down his throat like a helicopter mom.

Was I hoping for too much? Was I putting a heavy load of demands and expectations on teachers who are undermotivated and way too busy preparing the curriculum and correcting a back facing number five for the umpteenth time to care about boosting confidence and stopping foul language ? I don’t know. Tell me.

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5 reasons to start married life with a wedding

wedding

I like encouraging people to have weddings although I do not have a good emotional or intellectual or even spiritual argument for it. I just think weddings are beautiful and are a good way to start married life. They are also an excellent excuse to bring families and friends together for a big party and to bring on board people you will need for the new journey. Oh, and planning a wedding together with your partner prepares you for a lifetime of decision making together.

This is why I loved this post by Pastor John Musyimi of Mamlaka Hill Chapel in Nairobi. He couldn’t have put it better.  Here is a link to the original article.

By Pst. John Musyimi

Some thoughtful Christians have asked, ‘If an engaged Christian couple love each other, what is the point of doing a wedding? Furthermore, when exactly does a marriage begin? Is it not enough to just dispense with the cultural requirements (a can of worms for a different discussion) and start living together? Why bother with a wedding?’ –

It is interesting to note that this line of questioning is mostly asked by men. They have several reasons to ask this, but for the most part, it is a response to economic concerns. Weddings costs money and some feel it is wrong to devote any resources on one. It is likely that much of the economic pressure we feel here might be more of our own making than anything else. Whilst this would make for an interesting discussion in and of itself, let us for now be content to say that a wedding doesn’t have to be expensive.

My goal in writing this article is to explore some theological reasons why Christian couples should seek to begin married life with a wedding ceremony. I am not concerned with the size, scope or outlook of the ceremony. I am only anxious to make the case that there be one. I wish to show that a Christian wedding ceremony has significance that goes beyond any other legitimate (and illegitimate) way of starting married life. The following are 5 lines of reasoning:

  1. God’s covenants came with vivid ceremonies: When one considers the various covenants that were made in scripture by God with His people (e.g with Abraham in Genesis 15, or with Israel in Exodus 24 etc) there was invariably some sort of ceremony to mark the beginning of that covenant relationship. The same was true of the various covenant renewals in Israel’s history. The ceremonies were undoubtedly used by God to impress on the mind of the human parties involved the utter seriousness of the matter. They provided great visual representations of the nature of the covenant relationship and even the consequences that would follow covenant breaking. The Bible tells us that marriage is a covenant relationship (Malachi 2.14) and it is fitting, therefore, that it also be inaugurated with a ceremony. A wedding is a serious and vivid covenant making ceremony between a man and a woman in the sight of God and a gathered congregation. If God marks the start of His covenant relationships with ceremony, perhaps we as His imitators (Eph 5.1) would do well to follow suit.

2. The absence of weddings was a picture of God’s judgement: This may come as a surprise to you but it was one of the ways God brought judgment on His people for their sin. Consider Jeremiah 7:34 ‘And I will silence in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a waste.’ (c.f. Rev 18.23)- God, to communicate His displeasure at His people’s idolatry, promised to drain them of all gladness. For his people, one of the chief times of great gladness was captured in weddings. God says that as judgement on them the voice of the bridegroom and the bride would cease from their land. In effect He says- ‘It will be so severe and desolate, there will be no weddings and their accompanying joys and blessings.’

Wouldn’t you rather perpetuate a picture of gladness and God’s favor, rather than one of God’s displeasure and judgment?

3. Jesus attended and blessed a wedding: Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. (see John 2.1-12) Have you ever considered the significance of this miracle? He chose to manifest His glory (v.11) at a wedding. The way He did it is also worth noting. It wasn’t a healing or the casting out of a devil; rather, it was a miraculous provision of great wine for the wedding. The running out of wine at such a feat would have marked an end to the joyous festivities and been a great shame on the couple- One could not imagine a greater crisis. Jesus blessed this occasion by producing the finest wine for them. This was quite the seal of approval. This tells us something of the attitude of Jesus towards weddings- He approves, attends and blesses God honoring weddings.

4. A wedding is a chance for Jesus’ love to be seen and shared: I owe this point to my colleague Pst Lemaiyan. (We must make use of the thoughts of other men’s brains, right?) As Christians, it is to be our business to make use of every opportunity for the gospel. A wedding is one such opportunity. We know that marriage mirrors Christ and the Church. (Eph 5.32) What a glorious thing it is then for a marriage from the very outset to seek to display the gospel! A wedding gathers friends and family, some of whom may not have a relationship with Christ. It thus provides context for them to see and hear the gospel. Fellow Christians are also edified to see and (hopefully) hear a fresh proclamation of God’s unfailing love for His people as displayed by the wedded couple.

5. Jesus will not sneak His bride into glory: Not only do the Scriptures employ the marriage metaphor; they also use the wedding metaphor. God refers to Himself not only as a Husband, but also as a Bridegroom. Eg in Isaiah 62.5 ‘For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.’ This, to me, is a very striking point. God speaks of Himself as a groom and His people as a bride that He betrothed to Himself. In the New Testament, Jesus severally pictured himself as the bridegroom in a wedding banquet with the Church as His bride (Matt 5.9-15, Matt 25.1 ff.) And not only so, the last book in the Bible tells us that Redemptive History ends with something like a wedding feast. (Rev 19.7) Jesus will not sneak His bride into glory; He will hold a wedding banquet with her and present her to himself a glorious bride for all heaven and earth to see. The New Jerusalem (a picture of God’s people) comes down out of heaven like a bride adorned for her husband (Rev 21.2). Does the very language not cry out, wedding! This tells us that the concept of a wedding ceremony (and feast) is one that God heartily approves of and even applies to Himself.

Obviously, these 5 arguments don’t address every issue and there are other legitimate options to start life as married couple. (Eg, The Civil Authorities) However, my plea is that, as Christians, there is more to consider. Hopefully this inclines us to view weddings more favourably.

Trust God to fill gaps in your marriage

dance-wedding

Over the last two weekends I attended two weddings where the pastor/priest preached from the narrative of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. The first sermon was by a reverend from PCEA St Andrews Church in Nairobi while the other was from a priest at St John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Karen. [Btw, baraka kwa ndoa Sheilla, Jay and Mary].
I learned several things.

1. Jesus’ first recorded public miracle happened at a wedding. Jesus was invited and attended the wedding. He thought the ceremony and the people important enough to take up his time. Weddings are significant life events. As you send out guest cards to the Women’s Rep and incoming MCA, remember to invite Jesus  into your union from the start. He’s a good ally to have on a long life journey. Make your vows before God. Whether done in  a church, at the AGs or in  a garden, Jesus would love to be a part of your celebration and union.

2. Surround yourself with people who care about you and your marriage. Have people who know Jesus in your close circle. Mary saw the wine run out at the wedding and she rose up to save the day. She knew a person who could handle that. She took the matter to Jesus and didn’t mind his seeming rebuke at her intervention. You will need people who see things going wrong in your marriage and instead of running to the gossip mill with the story, they run to their knees to pray for you. They take your troubles personally. They take your unfaithful spouse or lack of a child or financial problems like their own. And they take these to Jesus without you ever asking. And they do not give up till they know Jesus has heard and he’s working on it.

3. It’s good to prepare for your wedding and for marriage but be assured there will be surprises along the way, some of them nasty. The Cana couple invited guests, made food and wine and got ready to rock the party. But sometimes our best preparations fall short. The unexpected happens. Things go awry. Best intentions are misconstrued. Misfortune knocks. Wine runs out. Our efforts becomes inadequate. Grace huisha. What happens then when the gaps emerge and we feel our human strength, wisdom, resources or grace failing?

4. Jesus fills the gaps in our marriages, all you need to do is ask. He mends the gaping holes. He covers our inadequacies. And the beauty is that his gifts are far superior than what we can accomplish by our efforts. The wine by Jesus was the best the wedding party was gonna have that day. It was way superior than what had been brewed. God’s intervention will leave no doubt that one greater has been in our midst. His healing will leave those around you astounded. His wine will be perfect. Sometimes we joke about dire circumstances in our lives and say that only a miracle can redeem that. Well, Jesus can perform the miracle that will save your marriage. If all you need is a miracle to have that man come home again or to keep the job from going, then smile because we have a miracle worker in our midst. Just ask him for help.

Have you invited Jesus to your marriage? Does he know where the problem is in the union? Tell him and trust him to fill the gaps with his superior wine.