Names should be important

name cloud

My five-year-old son has this habit of catching songs fast. The first time I heard him sing along to Jeremy Camp’s “Defender” I was shocked because I didn’t know the song myself, and it’s not one of those easy sing-along songs. He had caught the tune on radio and it had stuck. This week I heard him massacring another Chris Tomlin song and mildly corrected his lyrics but was still amazed because it is not one of those that are endlessly looped on my play list.

My sister recently recorded him singing the entire ”You’re my Defender” song then told me, “May be you should pay for him music classes.”

We laughed about it then. Today I was reading a book I have had for the last three years, a gift from my dear friend Mary Ngigi. Marla Alupoaicei in “Prayer Warrior Mom”writes: “An excellent way to bless your children through prayer is by finding scriptures that pertain to their names, personality traits, gifts and character qualities (both the qualities they already have and those you’d like them to develop). Names are important to God, so they should be important to us. Find out the meaning of your children’s names and then use those insights when you pray for your kids.”

I paused to smile because my son’s second name means praise. May he live to declare the praises of He who called Him and may his lips openly profess the name of Yahweh.

Are your children living up to their names? Pray them into the destiny and character qualities you named them into.

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Honouring parents

farmer mama

When I was getting married I had this grand vision of myself walking down the aisle, looking all majestic and glorious, all eyes on me, may be singing to my husband-to-be who would be wonder-struck and shedding tears of joy at the altar. My pastor was keen to know why I wanted to walk myself down the aisle.

“No reason,” I told him. Ït’s just what I wanted.

But he told me of what an honour it would be for my parents to walk me and hand me over to the man I was going to marry. I agreed to do it if doing otherwise would have dishonoured my parents.

In retrospect, I’m glad I did. My parents have never been prouder, and I was shaking so badly along that long walk, I would have tripped myself if I had no one to hold me.

A few days ago I came across a verse in Matthew 15 where Jesus rebukes the Pharisees who refuse to help their parents because they had already made a vow to God. It’s one of those verses that I must have read numerous times before but never really noticed till now. From the verse, it seems that Jesus would rather you first help your parents when they ask for help rather than meet an obligation you had made to church. Correct me if I am wrong.

For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’[a] and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’[b] But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents.[c] And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.

It’s easy to ignore our parents once we are out of their houses, and especially if we feel they made our growing up years hard. Finally we can’t wait to break free and be ourselves.

But we have a Christian duty to honour our parents and to take care of them. According to 1 Timothy 5:4-8 providing for our parents is a gospel issue, whether they deserve it or not. It’s pleasing to God.

Here are other ways we can honour our old folks apart from letting them give us in marriage.

  1. Forgive them. I don’t think any of us has perfect parents. They failed us numerous times when we were growing up and we carry grudges and hurts that affect our relationships with them, with our own children and our spouses. But once I realised that my parents are sinners in need of grace as I am, once I removed them from the exalted pedestal and saw them as people who are also messed up and dealing with their issues, not seeking to hurt me purposefully, I was able to forgive them for all real or imagined wrongs. They were not perfect, they will never be perfect, but God is good.
  2. Pray for them. They have needs, dreams, challenges… pray for them. for their health, for their jobs or businesses or enterprises, for their friends, for the burdens they carry, for the house they are building, and for their redemption.
  3. Acknowledge them. Letting my parents walk me down the aisle acknowledged who they are in my life. Mention the dad who has always denied himself to make sure you have during your graduation speech. Praise the mother who has been on her knees on your behalf since you were in nappies at her retirement party. Introduce them to your friends with pride. Keep them in the loop on what’s cutting in your life- did you get a new job, moved houses? Seek their counsel or thoughts  on issues.
  4. Bless them physically. I belong to a Facebook group of aspiring and already-there home owners and I am so proud of the many posts I see of people who are building houses for their folks even before they build their own. It’s beautiful. Find ways to bless your parents physically. Buy them something they need or wish for, especially if it can make their life easier. Update their phone software and teach them how to use that Facebook.Remember that joke about men who buy random girls iPhones yet their mothers are using a rubber band-bound Mulika Mwizi whose key pad is so worn out calling people is a fit?
  5. Help them in their time of need. My folks are still young but I realise that as we get into our 40s and 50s, the reality of ageing parents kicks in. What do you do if your other siblings are unbothered by the arising needs? You will still take care of their hospital bills and when that time comes, let them stay in your house if they need to knowing that you are honouring them and God is pleased.

How else can we honour our parents as grownups?

 

“We should never allow the cares of the world to overshadow the things that are most important—serving God through serving people, especially the people in our own families.”- Gotquestions.com

Taking stock of relationships

faces-of-africa

In the past month my church small group has been studying stewardship. During one of the lessons, it was highlighted that we are stewards of the relationships God has put our way. It was a time to pause and take stock of the people I was connected to.

I realised that I quickly identified as a wife to one Muse and mother to two lovelies, sister, daughter, christian church goer, neighbour, small group leader, friend… I even introduced myself thus. These relationships demanded a certain level of input from me. I had to be the good neighbour who doesn’t throw noisy parties at 3am or pour trash on the stairs because I was mindful of my neighbours. I had friends who needed me and who I needed to be there for. I had prayergroup mates to pray and be accountable to.

In these relationships I was trying to stand before God and say I have worked what was given me as a mother, wife, writer, Kenyan woman, believer and I have fought  a good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.

But there were relationships I was ignoring or not taking too seriously yet God was expecting me to be a faithful steward in these as well. I was someone’s grandchild. Was I holding my weight to my cucus? I was a cousin, aunt, niece, mentor, villagemate… was I being a good steward? Would my nieces be proud of the aunt I had been to them or I was just a name in their lineage? Would my village remember a daughter like me in their time of celebration or need? Was I holding my weight as a mulamwa to someone?

Christmas will be a time when you are reminded just how many people you are connected to. You can choose to see them as a burden, obother or non-of-your-business but God will demand an account of what you did with your life in relationship to these people. Realise the privilege it is to have those people living across the hall from you, or related to you or attending the same church as you and ask God why he has placed them in your life. Recently there was a story of a woman stranded in Dubai and the first question people asked is “kwani she doesn’t have a family, friends?”

Chance encounters for me have turned to be blessings, people brought into my life for a purpose, people I need to get my job done some day in the future in a way I could never have anticipated. And those chance encounters have probably opened doors for some people as well. Recently I needed to get an article form a medical doctor. Then I remembered a family we had carpooled with for one church trip and the lady is, yes, a medical doctor. And she was willing to write.

On the same note, it’s time we dealt with this lie from hell that we do not need some people in our lives because they come from a certain community, or we don’t need certain communities in “our” country. We are connected, and we don’t always choose who to get connected to. In fact we can only choose our friends and spouses, to some extent. All those other relationships – your classmates, colleagues, cousins, brothers, parents, in-laws, neighbors, parents at same school- are providence. Appreciate them. Build them.

I am taking stock of more relationships in my life and trusting God to give me the love, patience, time and wisdom to be a faithful steward.