Where to take your heart when life hurts

prayer

In the last two months, I have thrice found myself dealing with that raw heart feeling that comes with being hurt, losing something I loved or wanted or getting rejected by someone whose approval mattered to me.

The feeling is almost as if someone crushed my chest and left me with a gaping wound that leaves me feeling breathless, tearless, restless; the kind of feeling that makes you want to go for a run up Ngong Hills or for a fast drive towards Namanga, then you remember your life sucks too much at the moment for such strain or pleasure.

In the past when hurt I would lash out at those who hurt me, especially with icy words that in my mind helped me gain back ground. However, in the big picture, this lost me relationships and got me labeled as mean girl. I hated being that vengeful vicious mean-spirited person. Then I begun building these high walls that I felt kept me safe from further pain. I shut myself in. You can’t hurt someone who doesn’t care. And I tell you I can stop caring. I can build a wall so high it becomes impossible to bring it down even when I need to. But again these high walls kept me lonely and unapproachable and aloof and kept people out. People know I was keeping them out and moved on to more meaningful friendships/ relationships. I hated being that person, again.

So how do I deal with hurts and disappointments and rejection while still remaining peaceful and real? I lay them bare at the feet of Christ. I process those feelings as raw and childish as they are and explain them to my saviour. I tell him how I am feeling, why I am hurt or disappointed or angry that things happened the way they did and what I would really have wished for.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit helps me see the vanity, lack of trust, lack of forgiveness or pride in my heart. Most times though I just trade in my pain for God’s peace. I let him take over the burden of dealing with those who hurt me or disappointed me and I walk away from that tearful prayer time with my heart ok. My circumstances have not changed, rejection is still as real as it was 15 minutes earlier, but my heart is fine. As God’s sweet waves of love sweep over my soul, I am reminded that I am loved, that I matter, that God’s plans for me are to bring me a hope and a future, that God is working all things for my good, that God is perfect in all his ways, that his love for me is so wide I could never ever fathom it.

You can choose peace instead of bitterness, depression and dejection when life hurts. God graciously exchanges our sorrow for his joy, our pain for his grace and peace and insufficiency  for trust when we, in surrender, lay all things at His feet. He daily bears our burdens.

What I learnt during my holiday at home with the kids

chrissie

Happy New Year. I was hoping this January would start a bit differently on the domestic front now that my house help left some of he clothes behind. but yeah, like they all do every January, alienda akiendaga, going mteja on me on the day she was supposed to return back to work.

So my hands have been quite full with dinners to cook and laundry to fold and dirty dishes competing for space in my sink that making a post` here has been pushed to the back burner.

Mercy is our first guest blogger and she tells us about priceless moments bonding with her children over the holidays when Nairobi packed its bags and went to shags.

Karibu Mercy.

#Guest Post

I believe I had a transformation these last holidays when I got time to spend 24 hours with my two sons, for 12 days. This is how: Work closed on December 23 and many people had all these amazing plans about places to visit and all. It was Christmas; what would you expect anyway. Kenyans love to go to the village, spend time with rural folk and ‘eat’ Christmas the real Kenyan way. Well, we, that is my little household, has never had that chance. I don’t exactly know why and I do not want to give any explanations, but we are doing badly in that segment as a family. Back to my story.
So there I was, when I released the house help on December 20. I did all my house chores, even for the next day. Then on December 22, I requested hard that my husband would sit with the boys while I cleared up work for the holidays.
He agreed. The boys were super happy. They hardly get such chances with their dad. He cooked for them and fed them. By the time I was back, they did not need me. They had dad. Too bad the experience would only last the day. Dad had loads of meetings every day for the next month, even through Christmas, all of them out of the city and far away from his little boys who would have hoped that they could learn to ride a bike from him. So back to me, and my little energy bunnies.
We would have to be together; cook, clean, eat, shower. Sleep, wake up, watch tv, nap. Everything. The place would become more quiet as Christmas stayed, and went quietly away. Every other house was empty.
We were atop the buildings, perched away in our little hub, all by ourselves. All silent outdoors, only an occasional bark from a bored dog.
Inside the hub we played music. Watched YouTube videos. Played. Prayed. Quarrelled and fought. Slept in. Woke up late. Had breakfast. Went out for a bask in the sun.
Everything we did, we enjoyed. Mom had her work all in one basket. No particular definition but yes, the boys were satisfied with her. She would clean, cook, feed and clean the boys. She would change their clothing, put them to sleep, hold their hands while walking down the stairway. Everything.
Compare that with the days I would leave the house by 7am, stay away all day and run back in at around 8.30pm all tired and sleepy? And yet the children wanted to have a chat or play or just hang around me.  For once, I felt guilty of this fast lane that is called career building. Was I too busy trying to make ends, meeting new people, just being busy, while my own children are wishing every minute to be with me? I needed to wake up.
For days on end during the holidays, I envied those who stay at home and watch their children. I envied households where spouses can be supportive enough to give their wives time off and the assurance that they will run the bills and go out hunting while mom stays home and watches these dear little ones.
See, I wanted to be there to tell the teacher that my son wants to recite and act more. But I was in a hurry in the morning because I had to be at work by 8 o’clock. I wished I could stay around the house and see the 20-month-old jump off the sofa seats as he screams Zuka Zama in glee. Yet the reality was I would come home when he just had no more energy for it.
Why should I be the one trying to catch their attention when they are snoring in the evening? This is not right. I wanted to be there to wash the school goer out of the dust and dirt that he gathered in school all day. I told myself I have to check his homework and sign the diary every night, not wait for teachers to wonder if there is a parent or just a sponsor in that home. Me. Their mother. I must step up to my role and be a more involved parent in 2017. 
But I needed a firm back to lean upon. The back that reminds me we are going to be warmly tucked in, clothed and our tummies well fed. I needed the assurance that… sigh… we are a team and doing this together. If only.
At times you want to tell off these hectic ambitious lifestyles that men and women live today. Running for elusive gains. Trying to catch the sun. Wanting to live forever young and rich and famous.
Are we too busy for our own lives? What happens the day we wake up and find ourselves with no pattering feet running down the hallway to our well-acquired mansions? No sound of cluttering plates and spoons. No crying little ones with wet noses to wipe. Huh. That day is coming. It will be here in the twinkling of an eye. Will you smile when that day comes? Or will you silently weep in regret of a long gone past?

Secrets to marital happiness

 

happy-couple-4

In November last year I attended a marriage seminar at The international Christian Centre by an American couple whose names I forget. They turned theirs from a hateful marriage filled with violence and despair to a happy one. May you also, with the help of God, can.

Today I went through my notes and would like to share some of the secrets to marital paradise.

  1. Triumphant realism.Leave the fantasy behind. Embrace realism depending on whom you married. You are all flawed people. This will not be easy but God can make you mutually happy and whole for life. Apologise first. Start talking first after an argument. Initiate sex first. Show your love by what you do. How are you making your spouse’s life easier? Find what your man/woman likes and do it happily. Be gentle in the way you speak. Are you sarcastic, critical, abusive?

2. A redemptive spirit.  Damaged people carry a heavy burden of pain, anger, hurt and despair. Usher each other into the presence of God. Submit to God first, individually. You are no good to nobody if you are not whole. Return to your first love with Jesus Christ. Troubled marriages need spiritual renewal to get rid of hardness of heart and unforgiveness. The Holy Spirit in you will help you know how to minister to your husband.

Don’t give up on your self or your partner as God doesn’t give up on you. Then go to your spouse and reconcile the conflicts that divide you. Forgive him for his failures and wrong choices. That will probably move you out of your comfort zone. Next begin to provoke your spouse to love by deliberate godly actions. Love stirs up a reaction.

What have you done that has offended your spouse? What have you neglected to do that you’ve been asked many times to remember? Are you loving your spouse the same way you have been loved by God?

3. A passion that lasts. A passionate marriage is the result of investment, not chemistry. How and where you spend your time shows where your passion lies. You reap what you sow, where you sow, and more than you sow. Sow into your marriage. Show diligence in your marriage. Every forgotten action is an act of laziness. When is the last time you had a date together? Do you recognise your mate’s achievements? Have you neglected to pray together? If you show attention, the fire will never go out.

Deliberate actions can also cause the fire to go out in a marriage. These include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Criticising or mocking when you talk.
  • Physical abuse
  • Refusing to have sex to punish
  • Acting harshly or rudely
  • Flirting with someone else
  • Vows broken by adultery

Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. James 1:19

4. Be best friends. A friend loves at all times.  Be his/her enthusiastic and vocal supporter. Be a cheer leader for your husband. Be his friend and his lover, not his mother. Love him for who he is and where he is at, rather than his potential.

5. Ultimate sexual fulfillment. Honour each others needs and desires. The goal is mutual satisfaction. Sex for a man is a legitimate physical need like food or rest. Well, and frequent sex has been linked to less aggressive prostrate cancer. Your husband’s sex drive is God’s gift to you. It was intended for you. A virtuous woman can use the power of sex to call men to virtue and morality. A feeling of guilt is an indication that something’s wrong in your marriage.

6. The serpent expelled. Satan wants to destroy the family unit. Fight to save the marriage and win.

7. Prayer, partnership and purpose. These will bring you to your secret paradise. Stop expecting your husband to think like a woman. Our husband’s differences are intended for our growth. Make your home his safe place. Investigate what he thinks, feels, hopes, fears.Believe in him and intercede to the Lord on his behalf.Take your husband’s dream and birth it out in prayer.

Focus on your growth in the Lord, not his. Minister to him. Don’t take over; continue to refer to him about how he wants things done. The key to unlocking the potential in a man is to treat him with respect long before he deserves it.

Make your husband to enjoy being home with the family. Make your home a place of laughter and peace. Your diner table is your ministry ground. Use that time to know what your husband and kids are thinking.

Be in the word of God as if your life depended on it. And trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.

How to handle indiscipline and tantrums like a ninja mum

sulky-toddler

I often joke that my children were created to teach me patience and anger management. I never knew tiny people could press on all my buttons and leave me raging and out of control. Oh, and I do not like being out of control. Needless to say, one of my biggest parenting challenges has been handling the episodes that drive my emotions towards that curve of no return: anger tantrums, disobedience and indiscipline. My kids are four years and 20 months. My son is a strong-willed boy who never forgets a promise made and has an amazing ability to block out my voice from 10 inches away. My daughter is a fighter, holding and demanding her own quite well with fists and kicks despite her pint size. Oh and she doesn’t relent. It’s her way or her way. And the two can fight like two bull dogs over nothing really.

Through all the chaos my goal is to be a peaceful mom. I am reminded that peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As is patience, joy, kindness, goodness and self control. I do not have to blow my top. I do not have to lose my joy. I can be kind despite the fact that my children are being mean to each other and to me. I can be good despite the temptation to withhold my love or hugs as punishment.

Slowly I’m becoming a ninja mum. But it has ben a journey. Of personal growth for me, of modelling right behaviour and reigning my emotions and forgiving and training in what I’d want to see. I am also learning my kids and what works and doesn’t. So here are some things you can try to  help navigate the highly emotional training moments. *Learning is the operative word because most times I am raging and threatening and yelling and probably damaging my kids emotionally.

Connect

Often, bad behavior is my son’s desperate attempt to make us pay attention to him. He knows running over his sister with a toy truck or snatching her trike will get someone’s attention. He knows that his little whiny voice that can make the same request 45 times in 60 seconds gets to me. So when I realise he’s about to burst into tears for no “apparent” reason, I put down my phone, get the nanny to pick the younger sister from my lap, and we sit and cuddle. We talk if he wants to but most times he doesn’t want; he just wants to be held. After a few minutes (as long as the sister doesn’t run back to me demanding to be held also), he slides off my lap and goes on to do whatever he was doing before. When you find your child acting out, look at your relationship lately. Have you been too busy, too preoccupied? Is your child feeling ignored, unloved? Connect. Hug. Switch off the movie. Put the phone down. Take your child out or help them ride their bike or colour a picture. Spend time.

Meet needs.

Hunger, thirst, fatigue, over stimulation and sickness are major causes of foul moods and anger outbursts. So anticipate these needs and preempt them. We carry a banana or crisps to the playground. I make sure the children are fed and have napped before going to the supermarket. When emotions get high, my first recourse is to cuddle and if things don’t get better soon, we look for food.

Deflect /distract/ prevent.

I marvel at how quickly you can get your child from whining for a toy by distracting with a funny sto that ends with lots of tickles. A child can choose a lollypop over a toy car. Yeah, Sh650 saved. Trade the iPhone she is crying for for an imaginary one. Know the things that instantly capture your child’s imagination. On the brink of a meltdown, you will find me making up a story about monkeys in the nearby tree or how I just saw Kayan of Disney’s Lion Guard laughing in the flower bush. At the supermarket I evade the sweet and toy aisle when I have no plans of buying. I lie that there is no power hence no TV time until homework is done. I send them to the bedroom to search for a ball while I sneak out of the door without accompanying tantrums. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

Negotiate.

Everything is negotiable with kids; you just have to know your kids. I used to tell my son that if he wants to watch TV he has to play outside for one hour. If he doesn’t cry in the mall, he will get Kinder Joy. If he is nice to his sister he can accompany me to wherever. I know he will do anything for an hour on YouTube or a chance to go to the mall with me. So I dangle that carrot. (I know the line is thin with bribery, hey, don’t judge). Also, discuss treats/gifts and rewards way beforehand. Let the child choose the gifts/treats they want. That way your child knows that on his birthday he’s getting a bike, a Ninja Turtle cake and lots of chocolate sweets. Allow this to sink in so there is no space for unmet expectations. Ask the child what he/she wants as a treat on a day out and arrive at a mutually agreeable item. And stick to your pledge. If you said you were buying a milkshake buy one. If she cries for chocolate as well remind her you had a deal and everyone needs to stick to it. Give ample warnings before introducing changes. So tell them you are leaving their friend’s house in ten minutes, then after five then two. Warn them that you will switch off the TV shortly or take away the tablet.

Cool off.

When pressed to the wall, go hide. Leave the screaming preschooler and the spilled rice on the floor and walk to the bedroom or toilet or garden ALONE for a good 15 minutes or until you are no longer in murderous rage and the spilled rice stops feeling like a life and death situation. That mistake may no longer look so bad once you are no longer in the heat of the moment. You may even be able to view it from their lens. If you can’t physically walk off, go to your inner quiet place and daydream about Diani or ice cream. Pray. For peace and perspective and wisdom and that your blood pressure will come down and that these kids won’t be the end of you. Of course at this point everyone around you will judge your parenting skills but who cares. They don’t sleep in your bed and you know you are barely holding on. When you are at your wits end and you are about to lose your own temper, yell, curse or hit someone, breathe. Deeply. Five times. You are the grown up here. A broken TV screen  isn’t the end of the world. Once you are calm you can teach your child how to do the same.

Empathise

See their world from the eyes.Or at least understand that you do not see their world from where you stand. Sipping his milk to check if it’s ok without his permission is a big deal. Opening the sweet wrapper for her before she is ready is earth shattering. You don’t have to understand it. Ask for permission.

tantrum-2

Give in.

A mom’s gotta choose her battles wisely. So she wants more soda or won’t bite any of her veggies or meat. So this is the third cheap toy you are buying in a month out of pressure. So they don’t want to sleep at their bedtime or in their bed and you are tired of fighting with them. Think of how life would be if you never had them or something happened to either of you and the little annoyances get a whole new perspective. Embrace the early years. Embrace their drive and spirit. You were like that too. Don’t get too uptight that lessons aren’t sticking and your children will be malnourished, and you are turning into your crazy mother and your children will be the recluse of society. They won’t.

Put your foot down.

I was told to never force a toddler to eat. I tried it for a year until my daughter became badly  constipated because she won’t drink water or juice or yoghurt or fruits or vegetables. She just loves chicken, ugali and cake. She had to gobble down the spinach whether she liked it or not. We were no longer negotiating on drinking water.  We have to remove her poopy diaper even if she throws the mother of all tantrums.

Don’t be afraid of tears.

Kids easily manipulate and wear down your resolve, especially if you are in public – like church or a restaurant. I have learnt to eat my dinner amidst screams or to walk on unfazed by the teary preschooler who doesn’t want to go to school. My son has learnt my no is a no, whether he cries blood or rolls on the floor in fits. I got tired of being manipulated.

Catch the teaching moments.

Every moment is a moment to train your child into the person you’d want them to be. There’s no better time to teach about sharing as when your child is being selfish with his toys or chocolate. I ask my son what he would feel if he’s the one who wanted to play with the toy and someone wouldn’t share it. Once my son comes crashing on the floor from the sofa where he’s been bouncing despite my warnings, I use the pain in his arm to explain that he could get hurt or hurt others.

Discipline.

According to your child’s age and disposition. Spanking gets to my daughter. It doesn’t quite have the same effect to my son. For him I am currently trying denying privileges.  He  is currently not allowed to watch any TV for a month because he broke the TV screen. He gets it. He may not be happy about it but understands that he lost the right to demand for cartoon time after hitting the TV with a bicycle pump, intentionally.  This is working way better than any spanking I would have ever done. He also does not get to play with my tablet indefinitely because he forgets to go to the toilet when on the tablet.

Use your normal voice.

Yelling will drive you crazy and you will find you have to increase the decibels as resistance to your voice builds. Instead go stand or kneel before your child, call out their name in a normal voice and stop until they look at you, then pass whatever message you needed to pass.

Threaten.

Well, that really doesn’t work for us but you can try. Threaten to never buy them another toy if they smash theirs down, threaten to abandon them at the mall if they dare raise their voice, threaten to never go anywhere with them if they misbehave… you get the drift.

 BONUS TIP:

Grow along. Enjoy the teaching and growth moments for both of you. Ultimately, my children are helping me become more patient, prayerful, mature, healthy, loving… And I think that is a big point. May be it’s the whole point.

 

11 questions to ask when looking for a kindergarten

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So you have made the visit to your child’s prospective school. Here are the questions to ask the head teacher to enable you judge whether that is the place that your child will call their academic home for the next 3 or so years.

1. What’s a normal school day like?

You want to find out what the children learn, how structured or unstructured their day is, meal times, nap times and any other extras that your child could benefit from. One school told me they start every day with singing and prayer. Another had a different “social citizen” agenda each day – on  Monday the kids talked about the environment, on Tuesday they covered science, Wednesday was about the various foods we eat and so on.

This information will help you know if the school exposes your child to just more than learning the sounds and numbers, whether it offers regular breaks and provides meals on time and how varied your child’s day is.

Also find out if teachers follow a strict curriculum or if is there an emphasis on lesson plans tailored to the progress of each child. What happens if your child is gifted or a little behind?

2. What are the school rules?

You are looking for rules and regulations that are simple, clear and logical and that tie with those that you have set at home to avoid clashes and future troubles. We all remember the case of a school that did not allow dreadlocks on boys in primary school and the fiasco that was. I recently saw a parent complain on social media because the kid was asked to repeat a class for not meeting the half way mark. Know the rules early on and choose whether you can live by them.

On the same note, what happens when the rules are not followed? What are the penalties?

3. What does the school fees cover?

Does it include meals? Is school transport paid for aside? Are extras such as swimming, ballet lessons and school trips covered? I assumed my son’s school fees was all inclusive only to find out school trips and music classes are paid for as extras.

4. What’s the school menu or do kids bring their own lunch?

You want to find out if meals are balanced, creative and adequate, and this can also help you plan your own dinner menu at home to avoid duplication. I know a mother who never cooks rice at home because that’s what the kids eat every day at school. Also, can you bring food or snacks to school? This might seem silly but there will be instances when your child hasn’t had his breakfast and you wish you could pack it.

5. How do you handle medical emergencies?

What happens if a child is unwell? Do they give emergency help or do they have to call the parent? Can they give painkillers for fever? Can they take the child to hospital before the parent arrives? Do they bring the child home?

6. What’s the policy on school uniform?

Can a child attend school in home clothes? What’s the average cost of uniform and where do you get it? By the way, school uniform shopping can cost a big chunk especially if you are restricted to one shop that has fixed (and high) prices.

7. What’s the school’s discipline policy?

How does the school handle specific incidents like bullying, prejudice etc? What does the school consider indiscipline?

8. What’s the classroom size?

How many teachers are there in a class? Small classes provide more individualised attention than classes with a high student-teacher ratio.

9. What extra curricular activities are available and what’s their cost?

Schools offer different programmes like skating, ballet, piano, tae kwon-do, horse riding and crafts. There are however schools that offer basic activities like field sports and that’s it. If you think your child could be the next Jason Dunford, you might need to get a little creative.

10. What’s your role as a parent?

Apart from paying fees and getting your child ready for school every day, some schools may place certain demands on you  like taking part in school activities or volunteering in certain areas. On the other hand you may want to be more active in your child’s academic pursuits but the school does not provide any arena for involvement.

11. Where do children who graduate from the kindergarten go?

I know a school whose curriculum did not allow my child to rejoin 8-4-4 syllabus without much hiccups because for the first three years, they focused on play and behavior rather than academic stuff. He would have been that kid in Class One who does not know to write ABCD. You may also find that the kindergarten has a special relationship with a primary school that takes their kids in Class One.

This article was originally published by Mums Village.

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.

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.

Depressed? Try shopping

shopping

I used to think retail therapy was man’s overrated invention to encourage binge shopping among depressed and lonely women. That was until this day when I walked into Nakumatt Mega supermarket feeling edgy after marinating for hours over a problem I had no solution to, only to walk out of the shop three hours later having forgotten my troubles and 5k lighter.

When it comes to relieving stress, retail therapy competes closely with a pedicure or massage or if you are a foodie, a glass of wine followed by icecream with chocolate dips.

Luckily for me I keep a “desire list” on my phone so that even my impulse buying is sort of pre-meditated. I just need enough emotional push to spend money and mostly on a pair of shoes or cute mugs. On this day at Nakumatt, I ended up buying gifts for my son who had an upcoming birthday, things I would have had to buy anyway, and some stuff for my kitchen.

So why does shopping act as a pick-me-up? Some say it is because it puts you back in charge of your life. There you are on an aisle, deciding if you like this pretty flowered blouse or the chunky necklace better or none at all and if you’re going to pick this and leave ghat. You are back in control. You are the boss. And unless you are stupid shopping, you are actually buying things you like or need or are getting to know more about the stuff you need, stuff that could change your life or that makes you happy. For example that icecream machine or the coffee maker you have been bugging the shop attendant about for the last half hour. You are moving forward in one bit of your life – like in acquiring a new sofa or another pair of shoes to match with your yellow dress. You are achieving a goal. Yes, ticking down a shopping list is achieving a goal in my backyard.
But window shopping works too because it empowers you. When you try on a dress you, know what works and what doesn’t even when you are not taking the dress home. When you check out the p rices of casseroles and dinner sets and smart TVs, you are gaining information that makes you a smarter shopper. You are gaining control. You are empowered. You are making steps forward in an area of your life however inconsequential.
Between a party, bingeing on TV series, burying my nose in an icecream tub and window shopping in pretty stores, I lean heavily towards window shopping, whether for books, clothes, appliances, furniture or homes. If I can’t access a physical store, catalogues work fine as well as does Pinterest. I’m I the only one who loves browsing through catalogues of shops I might never walk into or of homes I can’t afford right now anyway?

I hate those mhindi shops where a nosy attendant follows you around like a bloodhound on a trail. Do I look like I am about to fit a pressure cooker in my not so scrawny behind? But then again I saw CCTV footage of a woman who shoplifted a 32 inch TV and put it under her dress.

Retail therapy is escape and distraction at its best but it’s also about visualising the future and equipping yourself with information as a future buyer. And it doesn’t hurt to treat yourself to a pair of shoes, a lipstick, nail polish or some earrings over your lunch break. Just make sure the items were on your wish list to start with.

Had a rough morning? Try walking around a mall or flipping through a catalogue of the things you love.

Bath time=fun time

bath

I look at my two little munchkins splashing water on each other in the bathtub and smile. I am taking this time to breathe and enjoy time not refereeing a fight between the two. Bath time has a way of uniting these almost sworn rivals as they seek to extend their stay in the water.

Splash! And the younger one tries to wipe a stream of water from her face. Little Missy is receiving a little too much of the rough play from the brother who has more splashing capacity and accuracy. I warn the little chap to play gently as a duckie goes splashing through the water narrowly missing Little Missy’s head.

I watch the water puddle on the floor grow bigger from all the splashing but right now, I am not complaining. Because for the next ten or so minutes, this bathtub is my best baby sitter and entertainer. The children will be busy, happy and warm as they chase after toys and splash water on each other and me and create bubbles. The bottle of Johnson’s Bubble Baby Bath and Wash that I impulse bought is well worth the look of glee on my three-year-old’s son when he finds a tub overflowing with bubbles.

But bath time isn’t something we always looked forward to. Both of my babies were scared of water when they were newborns. My son would scream the roof down and leave me all sweaty and frazzled longing for my mum-in-law to come and give the bath. One day an older neighbour found us basking in the sun and seeing the little tot in my hands she commented: “Is this the little person who cries that much every night?”

I explained that he hated bathtime.

“Do it when you are both relaxed and keep the room warm. Then before you dress him, wrap him up in a towel and breastfeed him,” she advised.

Soon after my friend found us bathing and when she saw the basin she lamented, “Is that the water you are washing him in? No wonder he is crying. Add the water.”

And she was right. Immersed in a basinful of water, the little chap saw his legs float and started kicking in excitement. There was enough water to play with and swallow. Thank God for that zealous shopping attendant at Biashara Street who insisted I buy the Head to Toe No Tears wash. It really meant no tears from soap.

I wash my children just before bedtime because that way, I can let them mess their clothes and hair while eating knowing we have time to remove the grime. I have also found that they sleep faster after their bath.

Because bathtime is mummy time, I have to ensure I am home early to avoid rushing or even skipping the bath. This is our time to bond, talk about what is going on in their little lives and inspect their bodies for hits and accidents they may have had at school or while at play. This way I am not surprised by scars on little ankles or scratches on the neck.

Getting my children dressed still remains one of my biggest challenges because no sooner are they out of the tub, toweled and oiled than they slip off my fingers to run around the house naked, telling me how I can’t catch them.

“You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me!” The chorus rises.

I manage to put on a diaper on the little one, almost holding her down with one foot to stop the wriggling. But as I grab a vest she runs off again, giggling. It drives me crazy and despite the threats I issue, I know I will sure miss this when they are grown up. I remind myself to cherish these moments. I run after Litle Missy, tickling and distracting until I can get her into a warm romper.

With one down I hoodwink the older boy to stay still by promising him a massage. He quickly lies down and I slurp fragrance-free aqueous cream all over his back and massage his head and shoulders and legs. Because he particularly has dry eczema-prone skin, I prefer to use this to avoid flare ups.

His sister meanwhile has received a generous coat of baby oil that leaves her looking all shiny like a new coin.

Soon everyone is dressed and I take the older boy to bed, read a Bible story or poem, pray and tuck him in. His sister stands by the bed watching. Then it’s off to cuddling and booby time with her until she drifts off to sleep soon after.

 

This article was first published at Mums Village.