Fatherhood, curved or archived?

Recently, we had the opportunity to celebrate the fathers during a day called “Father’s Day”. Am not sure what to take of it but grateful of the opportunities to be celebrated, honored and cherished. 

I take this time to remember perspectives, perceptions and pertinent issues that arise out of fatherhood. Fathers as I have said before are the poorest defenders of their performance and deliverables. This is because we are generally not wired to count, complain or complemented. Fathers are also not to expect kudos on their backs as they are mere stewards of their roles. Most if not all of what fathers do are considered obligatory in nature.

Several years ago a friend of mine and I were reflecting on losing a parent. He had lost his mother while I had lost my father. We had a very long conversation which concluded that there is more stability when a father dies than when a mother dies first. Recently, while conversing over our future, a high school mate friend of mine indicated that we must work hard to ensure that when we go, our wives can still remain strong and live long to take care of our families. 

However, with all the issues that every father has to go through the society seems to have less trumpeters and far inadequate trumpets to blow the father’s role. The urban and rural father are experiencing tough economic times. Cost of basic goods and services have gone up. The pressure on the fathers to deliver is very high. With urbanization growth rate going higher and higher,the man has basically taken over a number of many roles that traditionally were considered roles of the woman. Urbanization has resulted in monetization of all activities and requirements. This has added pressure on the man to deliver since traditionally man is considered as the provider. Traditionally, women would fetch water, firewood, go to the market among others. 

These are no longer their roles alone because we have gas cookers, taps within fifty meter radius and motorcycle riders who can be sent to do some of these assignments. However, because these activities require money,the pressure on the father to really supply constantly and with generous proportions enough money to meet the basic needs and other new basic needs is so high. It is high time we review the 24 hour cycle tool in gender analysis and programming.

This does not mean that am negating the gains made concerning the female gender. My concern is that we need to also see how much effort the male gender is putting into all these. It is a good thing to be a responsible father. Responsible fathers enable societies to prosper as they work with the mothers to build a family where there is peace, harmony and love among all the occupants. On the other hand responsible fathers may not enjoy any fruit save for a good name of your children for good performance or good job. Mothers have learnt subtle ways to take credit as the father lies there.

While the world of today one needs to make a lot of noise to be noticed and appreciated, fathers are unable to. Example, check around locally, nationally and globally to verify the number of songs or poems done for either mother or father, the results will shock you. Needless to say that even in old age many fathers suffer loneliness and have to practice solitude to survive. 

My call is to every mother and woman to amplify the voice of responsible fathers and husbands. They must celebrate them both in public and in private. We must show that the fathers deserve a pat in the back, they deserve trumpets and songs of cheer for the good work they are doing to ensure society is stable, successful and sentimental. 

The reality is that the burden on responsible fathers is overwhelming. It ranges from carrying the family vision to delivering on every promise whether spoken or not. It is a burden to learn and decipher meaning out of every word, signs and wonders.

However, even with this level of responsibility and commitment, fathers still have blind spots that naturally puts them in a disadvantaged position when compared to mothers. First, most fathers are outward looking. They have to spend many hours away from home thus denying them opportunity for the quantity and quality time to spend with their children. In the olden days, sons would join their fathers for hunting expeditions. Secondly, is the disadvantage of how men are created. Our instincts are not very strong hence we do not easily detect certain things especially emotional in our children. As a result, we are weak when it comes to understanding the needs of our children. Many fathers know not the shoe or cloth  size for their children unlike the mothers. As a result, naturally, mothers end up buying more of these items to the children more than the fathers. To make matters, I once observed that mothers really delivers their message with some finesse emotional touch. While hiving the cloth and the pair of shoe, a mother is able to emotionally connect with the child by describing how the child is smart. Fathers, it seems, merely buy to cover nakedness as they fail to deliver emotional thunder while giving the clothes. All these internal differences while should be complimentary are usually the points that make fathers not be felt. 

Even with all these odds, fathers must not give up or feel inadequate in delivery of this God given mandate. Fatherhood, is the very root of identity for every child. It gives every child, irrespective of the gender, their personhood,potential and paternity. I had not known how this is critically important until when I got interested in watching some programme which my wife is a fan of. The Paternity court is a place where you see men and women cry or experience overwhelming joy due to the DNA test results and the testimony of the father. Even in old age some continue to pursue leads of knowing their fathers. 

Lessons from my father

There were important lessons I learnt from my father. Some negative others positive. The negative ones helped me to firm my stand on certain issues. However, for today I will mention just the positive.

For a very long time which is like two thirds of my life with him, he lived as a peasant with very little income if any. The struggles were real from basic needs to school fee payments. His determination encouraged us to press on though unsure of the future. However, whenever he got windfall (I even don’t know where he was getting them), we always had some treat.

Disciplined life: From an early age he instilled in us (the first three of his children. The rest came later and may have not learnt much as he died when they were very young) serious discipline. The discipline to respect others. The discipline to work hard at home and in school. He would always reward us with gifts for sterling performance. Other times, he would just take us to Kisumu and see the biggest town. He also taught us to pray and serve God. From this we shied away from the wild teenage life.

Courage and confidence: When in 1984, his church began to have leadership wrangles, he took his stand. As one who had one of the largest pastorates with 8 local churches, he was very powerful. I saw him have disagreements. His courage was in the fact that the law needed to be followed rather than people’s desires. In 1988, he was one of the unhappy fellows with mlolongo system. He stood against the system to support Joab Omino against the Dr John Robert Ouko. This ability to stand for the right thing and the rights of others was also common when he followed up school performance and management. The collision was real and at time we would bear the brunt. Thank God we had the brains.

Chief executioner. He was always on top of things by making them happen. My dad would take certain risks unexpected. In 1990, his nephew lost the wife. A telegram was sent and I delivered it from school to him. For a while no one knew how the body would come from Mombasa to Kisumu. The story was very long when he shared during the burial that took place almost three months after the death. He flew the body to Nrb as a parcel. Convinced a “Wepesi” (then a Peugeot 506 carrying 8 passenger I guess from Nairobi to Kisumu) driver that he has a parcel at the airport. Passengers boarded the wepesi then they went to JKIA to pick the parcel. Those days, bodies were received with a lot of dirges and fan fare so the driver realized that this parcel was actually the remains of someone after reaching home.

Community service. This man walked on foot together with the late Boniface Achieng Nyambega from kisumu to Kakamega then to Eldoret and Nakuru to raise funds for Bar Mathonye Primary school. Later, when he got employed at Hayer Bishan Singh, he ensured many young people from the neighboring sub locations are given first opportunity for employment. 

I could go on and on but I celebrate this man. It is now twenty two and a half years since he passed on. He died before he could enjoy the fruit of his labour. Having analyzed society, it looks like more mothers enjoy the fruit of their wombs than fathers enjoying the fruit of their labour!

    Happy Father’s Day to all fathers. 

****************

Mothers whether single or double leave us alone do not claim even an hour of the Father’s Day! 

Is God an introvert?

  

The greatest disease in the world today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is love. Mother Teresa.

Recently, we had a fellowship and the need to be open to each other came up especially to expand our horizons of knowledge of each other and also just to build strong relationships. However, how do we build this in view of the different personalities? 

The idea of different personalities is no longer a question of theory or hypothesis but one that has been proven to be true and factual. It is not a new thing as reknowned Greek thinkers like Hippocrates and Galen brought it to the fore. Hippocrates is credited with coming up with the idea that people can be categorized into four different groupings. 

However, before we delve further into personality types, it is important to underscore the value of building relationships.  John Donne, the famous British poet once wrote, “No man is an island,  entire of itself, every man is a part of the main..”. It is a fact that no one can survive alone without the help of others. However,  the biggest challenge is usually in forming formidable positive relationships that that not only survive the different circumstances we may encounter in a relationship but also outlive us. A relationship that barely exists because we are put together but cannot weather the storms of jealousy, envy, mistrust, gossip among others will most likely not get anywhere. It is apparent that in every relationship, people will differ and most likely the desire to break it off becomes bigger. 

In many instances our relationships flourish or flounder based on what we imagine, see and hear about us from others. Funnily, many build relationships around this shaky and sinking sand. Understanding oneself is the most critical and successful path in building strong relationships.  Soren Kierkegaard says, “The thing is to understand myself,  to see what God really wishes me to do…to find the idea for which I can live and die.”

Many people, while they get to discover their personality type, remain at the point of the labeling and do not move to serious application of this knowledge for building relationships at home, work and other places where there are opportunities for connecting. 

We all behave differently and is just in order to accept and move on. Our recent discussion were to look at the pros and cons of these  personality types and how they influence our relationship with each other especially when it comes to grief. 

The extroverts feel that people should be open one hundred percent and as much as is possible. On the other hand, the introvert tend to think that each person should mind their own business. Even during grief you should only be part of it if invited. It means that if an introvert friend told you what they are going through, s/he should consent to sharing the information further. 

This led me to really think who God is or His preference? This is a human question and as I write it I would not want to put it to a theological test. 

Firstly, I think these personality  types should not and cannot be limiting, delineating and becomes our point of captivity. We fear and ultimately fail to explore impossibilities and make them possible. We begin to create boundaries that make us not build up our personality potential out of these profiles. Each personality type has its unique way to exploit God given potential, opportunities and possibilities. Today’s competitive and highly dynamic and fluid society requires us to break the egg shells and move out to live. We may stumble as a chick but we must ultimately make it. 

On one hand we exploit the potential but on the other hand we build a plan on how to improve on areas of weaknesses that one’s personality type exhibits for example being bossy and abbrassive for the choleric. 

Relationship building

A key facet of our christian walk and growth that every believer is required to foster is a strong connection with others by creating an inviting and contagious atmosphere of love and joy that penetrates the brotherhood or organization. It involves practising hospitality, showing love, exuberating joy, care and concern for people among others.

Looking at how Christianity spread very fast it is evident that the remarkable growth was as a result of selfless love to the people particularly during tough times and of course all the times. Living as a Christian full of love is one distinctive feature in relation to other groups.

Should a believer then say they are not able to build relationships with most if not all others in the fellowship simply because of a personality type? To what extent should one use their personality as an excuse for this? Will God understand that one had weak relationships with others because of his/ her personality? What is the Christian response to personality challenges that hinder one from walking according to the Scripture?

Intentionality

One has to make a choice to be more open, and have open arms. Open in the sense of willingness to share your personal life. Apostle Paul makes the following statements:

Ephesians 6:21 “Tychicus the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing.”

Unlike being open, open arms is about being hospitable and a willingness to receive people. It is about creating an aura where people are willing and feels easy not only around you but also to reach out to you with their needs not gossips.

Both of these require personal authenticity. It demands willingness to be vulnerable to let people read and do whatever they want to with your life. It is that type of life that Jesus lived exposing His vulnerability as a human being. That God was willing and actually became a baby wetting his nappies and depending on a novice mother.

Borrowed Kindness

My story

I lived with my parents for some ten years before my mother left to look for green pasture. Tilling an unproductive land, consuming boiled cassava with wild vegetables and the subsequent poor health had taken a toll on her. Three of us had been born within a period of 5 years. I may as well say she was the “cassava winner” for that was the common bread. It was drought resistant and could be boiled, dried and milled. The flour was good for porridge and ugali. The various forms of this product could be translated into a meal depending on the time of day. My mum leaving this life meant that my step mother would take care of us. The best lesson we learnt here was how to live well with your step mother. Not many even knew that was our step mother. 

Learning from Abraham and Lot in Genesis, I would like to draw a few thoughts on the impact of borrowed kindness and how one in this state must conduct him/herself to be successful and catapult self to another level. Any contrary way of living will result into unnecessary frictions with life long consequences.  

In my language there is a proverb that the bad eye that you treat is the one that pursues you. It means that when you have helped someone most times they are the ones who betray you. They develop matchless rivalry and competition against you. 

Abraham is called by God and given an opportunity to walk in the way God wants him to. Obediently, he makes that commitment. He begins the journey of being a faithful follower and servant of God. 

The Lord calls him to go to a land that He will show him. This intrigues me because I usually wonder how Abraham got to know the exact direction to take. From scripture we learn that this was Canaan. His father Terah had set out but unfortunately settled at Haran before reaching Canaan. 

Abraham therefore sets on this journey where he has to leave his people and go to a new land. This is not an easy assignment. If God told me to do that today most likely I may not do it. Reason? Am used to my people a lot. My brothers, sisters and cousins. I enjoy our get togethers especially when I visit. Secondly, the value of land has gone up, my village will soon be a part of kisumu city. When the Lord asks, “Who shall go for us?”. I will be categorical, “Not me Lord, try elsewhere.” 

Abraham is better than me in this sense of obedience. I learn another thing that is the subject of my writing today. Abraham took Lot with him. When Terah had left Ur of the Chaldeans, he had also taken with him Abraham and his grandson Lot. Terah then died and Abraham took over his nephew. 

It is easy to feel that that was obviously his responsibility. However, reality is that it had not to be that way. While growing up I saw many abandoned orphans. Without care and concern from.their fathers, step mothers, village members and school at large. I do not know what happens but some men (fathers and husbands are easily influenced by the ladies they marry or personal decision till they burn bridges). 

I remember in my village, two families who were orphaned at a very tender age ( lost both parents or the mother). These orphans ( now in their fourties) struggled cooking by themselves, looking for water and fetching firewood. They were late for school though their home was less than a kilometer away from school. A joke had it that the school timekeeper was always dreaming calling their names at the assembly because they were in every list of latecomers. 

Taking care of orphans is not an easy venture. It takes a deep heart full of compassion, care and concern. Some of them are very rebellious and unpleasant to stay with. As a result many people shy away from direct living with an orphan but supporting from afar. Others completely neglect them. In the modern times, the would rather pay for you rent than host you.

The real test of a man is not when he plays the role that he wants for himself, but when he plays the role destiny has for him. Bob Buford

Abraham took after his father and made Lot his own. He was the only relative he carried along. Looking at his life, it is clear that God’s blessings upon Abraham fell on Lot too. With time he also got to have great flock and herd of livestock. 

At this point in time Lot’s servants grow horns and begin to demand for space. They wanted lush pasture land. They felt Abraham was taking too much. They began to organize for those “pastoralist raids” and “take over” of land, pasture and water sources. 

Ooh my….this is what Swahili people say, “Asante ya punda ni mateke”. Lot rather than rebuke his servants, it seems, he was also after demanding for a mile having been offered a step. 

It is so unfortunate how at times people who are supported miss the opportune moment to be a blessing. For those who have had the chance to live or support relatives, at times this act of kindness merely get vengeance in return. 

Learning to know how to live with others is such an important life skill as it shapes one’s destiny. 

Living with others

Have you experienced kindness from someone? Every act of kindness is undeserved. It is an act of mercy meted not because you are good but because the person showing kindness has a burden to do so. Kindness, though obligatory to the one giving, is never a right. 

Abraham’s act of kindness  to Lot was neither  a requirement nor a request. He did it from his heart. David’s kindness to Mephibosheth was out of a desire to fulfill his covenant with Jonathan. On the contrary Mephibosheth, though dining at the king’s table, still nursed ambitions of having the throne back to Saul’s household. Joash Judah’s king though rescued and brought up by Jehoiada the chief priest, would later kill Zedekiah, the son of Jehoiada. 

Jealousy is the tribute that mediocrity pays to genius.

                           Robin Sharma

These unfortunate incidences reminds us about how we should live on borrowed kindness:

  1. Tap fully the anointing. Lot missed on this as he wanted his own. 
  2. Never grumble or grapple with your host. It is most unfortunate when one feels they deserve even better. They are being misused and such like. Humility expects that one cools and calms even when you feel mistreated. It is the only way to grow. Everyone leaving on borrowed kindness will feel mistreated but how one reacts is more critical for future progress than the mistreatment itself.
  3. Show kindness to others
  4. An act of kindness is just kindness, do not imagine foul play or assume certain acts as indicating you are unwanted. 
  5. Failure to honour and return kindness may result in disinheritance. 
  6. A mere servant may inherit what was yours as the closest relative. 

The Gendercide Agenda

Blindness separates people from things; Deafness separates people from people.” Helen Keller

Every Monday morning I would wake up at 2am, prepare and take a public service vehicle at 3am for Nairobi town then take the next one for a 440 km journey to some parts of rural Kenya.   In the vehicle, we would be just an average of two to three men ( the conductor, driver and I) while the rest are women. They are dressed warmly and each of them has some luggage which the conductor has to help her in (off) loading. Not a single day did I see a man escorting a woman at this hour. May be they are single (mothers). May be they are widowed or their husbands are engaged somewhere or just not concerned. 

I would later travel to my workplace out of the city into the rural arid areas to serve the most vulnerable children and their families. Here again I would be met by another stark reality: women being at the fore front in doing not just household chores but serious economic activities. 

The lesson was clear: women are the drivers of economic transformation at the household level. While in many rural households the man disappear after breakfast and reappear towards dinner time, the woman together with her children will literally undertake assignments to drive household economic activities. However, the struggles and challenges that they have to go through in order to bring this  transformation is real. 

Women bear the main responsibility for meeting the basic needs of their families in most parts of the world.  Yet, they are often denied access to the resources necessary to provide for the basic health, nutrition and education of their children.” Elizabeth Gerhardt (The Cross and Gendercide). 

She milks the animals, takes care of the family garden, fetches water for middle income families in the village and gets some cash. The cash received is used to buy food or pay chama. Her plan is that after 5 months,the chama will give her a loan to pay school fee for her first born daughter currently in class eight second term. 

The story is not different even in the urban set ups. Here we have many single mothers, widowed mothers or some whose husbands are just lazy or careless. They work so hard with the little they earn or receive.

In my work in matters livelihoods, food security and household economic strengthening,  especially  in urban and rural areas, my commitment is to  women in general but with a clear targeted focus on special groups: single mothers, widowed mothers and mothers with children of special abilities. Their stories are heart rending. One would cry as you listen to these stories of resilient mothers who beats all odds not just to put food on the table but also inspire hope in their child(ren) for a better tomorrow. These stories are not restricted to rural and urban Kenya alone or by extension Africa. Calcutta, Indonesia, Arabian peninsula are also as affected as many other areas. 

Probably,  the inspiration to focus on women is from my experience with my mother. She literally woke up at 5am to be at the farm. With no breakfast, she would till her land till 12pm then go to look for wild vegetables for lunch. She would go to fetch water from the river 3km away and has to do two trips in the heat of the sun. My schooling is attributed to her change of direction when she abandoned tilling infertile rocky lands of kisumo kadongo to venture into business. Through that mitumba (second hand clothes) business our family got transformed from putting on torn shorts and T shirts to camera (fairly new second hand clothes). She paid my Form one fees and this put pressure on my dad to behave and also look for income to sustain me in school. I owe my mother the future am enjoying today. 

Statistics 

According to World Bank Group, the global extreme poverty is expected to rise as a result of covid 19 in 2020. In 2017, 689 million people lived on less than $ 1.9 a day.  The world’s majority poor are women. Two thirds of the illiterate globally happen to be women too. It is important to realize that the prevalence rate of poverty in rural Kenya stands at 49.1%  with women having a higher burden in providing for their families, compared with men, yet still the women are greatly disadvantaged. Recently, Kenya Revenue Authority shared some information about Kenyan taxpayers. The parastatal revealed that only around 84,000 Kenyans earn above Kshs 100,000 an equivalent of USD 1000 per month. Women take 36% of this while the rest are men. 

Prices of basic items like food impact more on women than men. A man always gives the same amount of money for food year in year out and it is the lady to budget and ensure everyone is full. In one of the groups I worked with, I remember how a mother narrated her experience while appreciating the transport reimbursement she would receive at the end of a three or five day training.

Kila asubuhi mzee wangu hutoka bila kuniachia chochote lakini akishatoka ananitumia shilingi mia moja kwa mpesa. Nikitoa nabaki na shilingi tisini ambazo ndizo nitatumia kwa kiamsha kinywa, mlo wa mchana na jioni.” Korir narrated . [Everyday my husband leaves home without giving me money. However, just after leaving he wires one hundred Kenya shillings to my phone. After withdrawing this cash I only get ninety Kenya shillings which I have to use for breakfast, lunch and supper for the whole family of six.]

If we are to make a turn around on families economic strengthening then women must be at the core of targeting and selection process. That targeting should also bear in mind the deep needs and challenges that they experience. Yet still for enhanced productivity, men in the lives of these women should not be left behind in order to create a balanced ecosystem. 

Household economic strengthening would therefore be effective when women are the primary targets while men become part of the stakeholder matrix for maximum gain. Capacity building should not be limited to business and employment opportunities for exploitation but also on living in harmony, making decisions as a family, developing and building a family vision among others. 

However, there is also a very large constituency of women who are single mothers, widowed mothers, mothers living with disability or mothers of children with special needs and women with suffering from diseases like HIV. It is possible to be clouded by the fact that we are targeting women. However, critically important is to also assess whether women selected are the most vulnerable.  The reality is that the category stated have serious social and economic challenges. 

The impact of poverty on women is compounded by these conditions and using them as selection criteria really helps in uplifting them emotionally, socially and economically. Faith groups like Christians, Muslims, Hindus among others, corporations, civil society organizations and governments must work hard to ensure that these marginalised groups are properly included in social safety net programmes. Further, they must regularly and robustly review their systems and structures are receptive to these groups.

We must ask ourselves retrospectively whether our systems, structures and resources are making the disadvantaged thrive or survive. Are they causing strifes or successes? Putting these to paper as a policy, objective or strategic imperative is not enough. We must all check that they are working. 

The challenge with governments is that mostly they focus more on economic development and economic growth at the expense of economic empowerment. If we are to achieve economic transformation at household level, then. Key reforms and innovations are needed to initiate and sustain pro poor economic empowerment strategies especially for our Kenyan economy. The government must walk the talk. For example, there is need to relook at Nairobi County Bylaws on small business and adjust them accordingly.  The number of women and people living with disability or caregivers of people living with disability has been on the rise. Most of these groups are the ones trying to eke a living from our streets by selling handkerchiefs,  sweets, and other consumables like boiled green maize, ground nuts. Arresting such a mother and taunting them is akin to injustice of the highest level.  

This is the first part of a series on pro poor economic empowerment strategies for vulnerable groups in our society.

Dear son,

Happy new year! I know with a new year comes the desire to fulfill some of your hopes, ambitions and plans. One of them is to settle down with a God fearing woman who can make a good mother to your children and whose favour will multiply your life. A lady comes with unprecedented favour and turns around the stagnating life of a man 180 degrees. Therefore, my son, your choice is as important as well as the process of discovering and conquering.

Today seduction has changed face. It is easy as people are easy. Abraham’s way shows a deeply ingrained thought involving who to look for, where to look for, why to look for that person and how to look for. It was a meticulously planned process. The instructions were clear on what was to be done.

Recently, I had a long discussion with a great friend of mine who is in her youthful age. She was disappointed that there are many men along the streets who just carelessly call a girl by whistling or sending funny signals. No respect, concern or care about the feelings, state of mind of the girl or need to know the person. What is wrong with the boy child that obvious things are eluding them? It seems that while common sense is becoming a stronger instinct in girls, it is the reverse for the boy child.

Critically speaking, the boy child may lose it if not watched, guided and taken back to the beaten path of skillful seduction of a girl. No wonder today we have a generation whose solution to marital problems is gender based violence.

O Lord God of my master Abraham give me success today and show kindness to my master Abraham.” This is Abraham’s servant praying for victory for Isaac. Seduction is spiritual and involves spiritual preparations. It involves seeking God’s direction about it. Whatever is started by God is of God and will overcome. Remember, “He who is born of faith, even faith in Christ, overcomes the world.”

In the instructions given there were a “not to do”, ” can do” and “must do” ones. These are rules which one must know. Majority of them are common sense or natural principles which you learn from the environment. Failure to observe them is disastrous. It is very clear that one must take note of the following:

Who Am I?

A very critical question that determines the type of person you are looking for. This is actually the purpose and destiny defining questions which drives our agendas. If unanswered or answered poorly then it merely creates a fault line for future disaster in marriage. When you know who you are, your purpose and the ultimate destiny then you look for the one among the daughters of men who can help you realise them.

Dear son you cannot just look for any woman. You must know what you want. It is a jig saw puzzle and must be sure that what you are pursuing will fit it. A woman is a helper coming to help you so if you have not defined what on earth you are here for you will easily not get the best.

What do I want?

Today because of the availability of many choices we struggle in describing and determining what we really want. Even in the supermarket majority waste time there not because they have less or no money but because they are spoilt for choices. Unlike in the olden days when we had only one type of item, today every single product has several brands. This makes many waste unnecessary time. One needs to take time and think through this and determine then have the capacity and ultimately the audacity to describe it. This game cannot be won with a blank or empty mind which does not have or know what they are looking for.

In the old days parents and elders were actually involved very actively in this process. However, this has changed drastically which is both positive and negative. I think that seeking the counsel or having their affirmation is critical for assurance and support. I always give a story of how at the verge of a proposal I changed my mind. It hit me that afternoon that what I thought was what I need was not what God wanted for me.

Developing a clear check list backed by God’s word and a clear understanding of issues is important. I have realized not two can meet your check list so be thorough in your analysis otherwise you will settle for less.

Who is she?

One of the most unfortunate things today is to meet two people in a relationship and they do not know one another thoroughly well including the basics. Background checks including physical, spiritual, social, academic, economic aspects should be established during dating period and some even before making a proposal. Take time to ask questions intelligently and do one’s own wise verification to avoid being seen as an investigator or an intruder. This is a game of hunting so stop being obvious and predictable when trying to gather important details about the prospective candidate.

Dear son take time to learn your woman. Know her inside out so that when you are given that book with limitless page about how to understand your woman you do not give up. Boy child today gives up very fast. Hold on there because you are getting into a furnace where you will be smelted and come out very refined.

Do not rush in for sex, it will kill the urge to know her and allow boredom to stealthily creep in. Remember, both of you are virile and fertile and the consequences of starting an unplanned parenthood are unimaginable.

My son I wish you well in this tough journey. A journey where search for a marriage partner is like mining gold. You dig so deep yet get very little. Persistence, perseverance and patience are the hall marks of getting the best. It is a journey where I know you may be interested in A but B is the one interested in you while your A seems either indifferent or disinterested but seems to prefer C. In this confusion, seek God, understand yourself and walk with the wise counsel. Ultimately, God’s best for you is there. Neither despair nor panic yours is on the way. Majority of those married today went through this difficult season of choosing and made it.

Check list

1. Am I sure of myself? Who am I? What do I want?

2. How does this lady fit into my purpose, ambition and background?

3. Does she meet the criteria of the written Word of God?

4. What are her ambitions, plans and desires for life and marriage? Do they fit into what I am searching for? Does she talk hopefully of a better and brighter future or just concerned with the moments (receiving gifts and money now, going out, surprises among others)?

5. Have I reached a point where I am convinced this is the best or am still struggling with options?

6. When cross referencing, is there breakthrough or words of affirmation?

7. Is she having stamina to withstand challenges in terms of spiritual, social and emotional fortitude?

Dear son am praying for and with you. May God’s grace be sufficient as you walk through this journey.

Nuts and Bolts

They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.” Genesis

In the last few months, I have engaged young people over the subject of choosing a marriage partner. They feel bored and tired. They have read many books and just tired. “No more instructions” they say “we will just make the choice.” However, there is never a point you can say wisdom is enough and you want no more. Young people, at least some, feel hey have heard enough of lectures on spousal selection. The issue of spousal selection is not limited to the young unmarried fellows alone but also to older people who could be married and wondering if their choice was a right one.

Yet even with all the books, movies and counsel of the choice of a partner, many do not seem to make commendable progress. When I have conversations with gentlemen and ask questions on their choice, some just fumble.

While growing up there were never formal meetings (at least my own experience) where my parents or grand parents taught me on how to choose a spouse. However, in their stories you would hear them mention serious adjectives (stubborn, strong, hardworking, foolish, wise ) to describe men and women. The nearest I came to some kind of guidance was when I brought the discussion up with my mother.

As a child of a widowed parent and her being my closest person I felt the need to bring the discussion up. I told her that in due course I will introduce a lady to her (by the way I had none but just wanted her opinion. 

As usual with parents when a son has a girlfriend and you indicate the question is always, “Where does she come from?” Ladies, on the other hand, are usually asked, “What does he do?”. I do not know why we are wired this way. These questions look naiive yet loaded.

My mother vehemently warned me against bringing a “foreigner”. By the way this is not the reason for my present choice. We argued in the farm over this matter as I categorically made it clear that the Lord’s choice matter to me more than a person’s place of origin.

It goes without saying that a spouse selection is one of the choices or processes that has far reaching consequences upon the life of a person. The transition stage itself is slippery and confusing. It can bring sorrow upon sorrow on the person marrying or even those outside but are related or not related to the two. It goes without saying then that this process must be given the premium it deserves.

In social media, they have been relating covid 19 infections to a bad spouse. It may result in death, curfew or even quarantine depending on the gravity of the matter.

Here Isaac and Rebekah are grieved and the source of their grief are the Hittite women that Esau had married. Scripture does not give details of this grief. However, it is clear that Isaac had warned his sons about marrying from the wrong people. From scripture in chapter 28 it is clear that only Jacob had been obedient to follow these instructions. Though Esau tried to remedy the situation, things were not working. This is a clear indication that in as much as we may marry other wives, marriage is one of the institutions that second chance offers are not very productive and healthy.

Further in Genesis 27:46.

Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am disgusted with living because of these hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from the Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth.”

In today’s society, many young people make a lifetime mistake by doing poor selection. They use non cardinal factors to consider a spouse. Some look at profession, others look at money and wealth. Yet others focus on being surprised, treatment, religious background and many more. Still many others do not give this step the seriousness it deserves. When you look at Jacob’s choice of Rachel, it is not just informed by her beautiful eyes but she was also hardworking.  Why would a younger daughter be the one to take care of the flock and water them while the elder one is not there? Where was Leah? Is it a mere coincidence that Jacob’s mother was found by the well and now Jacob was also finding his wife by the well? In both instances none of them is idling there but very serious with other assignments.  It seems Leah was a lazy fellow no wonder she was unattractive.

Our society is marked by young men and women who are looking for ready spouses. People who have been in the furnace elsewhere, smelted and now ready for use. An instantaneous generation thriving on stardom without the work that takes one there.

Therefore, our selection criteria tends to focus on looking for already refined persons-no wonder married men and women get a lot of proposals and suggestive moves. 

Worse is the fact that few are following the biblical examples given. It might not be very direct that the Lord gave us “factors to consider” when doing spousal selection. However, the examples both direct and indirect from Scripture suffice. 

Proverbs is one book full of wisdom on the type of a good spouse that one should go for. May be I dare say that at the stage of marriage one should follow the instructions given to Joshua: Do not let the book of Law (proverbs) depart from your mouth. You shall mediate upon it day and night (as you trust God for a spouse) Be careful to do everything written in it. If you do so, you will be prosperous and successful (and land yourself a wonderful spouse)- 1:8..

What to look for

Personal sense of preparedness. I know we rarely look at ourselves. However, the first quality is oneself being in a healthy state of physical, social, mental and spiritual form. If one have issues with self esteem, character, abilities among others then s/he will most likely encounter challenges going ahead. The challenges may erupt immediately before marriage or after tying the knot.

Self preparation is very critical as it enables you to view yourself from a positive, deliberate and conscious platform. Most marriage issues are caused by a sense of poor personal preparation and self evaluation. Many have a warped understanding of marriage in addition to misplaced expectations. As a result, when they settle, they realize they cannot stay together. I guess that might be the reason behind “the irreconcilable differences” theory.

Choose from my people. It is most unfortunate that pluralism has set in so strongly thus making us miss the mark in terms of fidelity to God’s word and call upon our lives. We are blurred and rarely see any difference between a christian and a good person. Young girls especially are driven by romantic actions (words, gifts, thoughts and actions) towards men. In the house of faith many young men are usually shy and fall short of this action. On the contrary, boys of the world are very swift like gazelles oozing sweet words like drops of honey from the honey comb. 

This is how many of us get washed as good sisters end up with non believers or lukewarm brothers. 

From Genesis to Revelation, it is clear that there is a group of people the Lord has set apart. Abraham was very categorical that his son Isaac must get his wife from his people. Any choice outside this was going to be an abomination. 

Later, Israelites are warned against marrying foreign wives as they would influence their commitment to God. Undoubtedly, spouse selection determines and shapes one’s destiny. Solomon a man committed to God’s statutes fails in his walk with  God later in old age because he got wives from royal families of other nations. 

Marriage is the single most important way of strengthening covenants and relationships. This can be conscious or unconscious. Probably, the reason why cultures and traditions around marriage are not being eroded away very easily. 

Understanding these covenants are critical since they can influence our selection and how we live together later. 

Choose character even within the family.

Leah and Rachel are two daughters of Laban with disntinct character traits both positive and negative. I have asked myself why it is Rachel who went to water animals and not Leah. My guess is that Leah was generally lazy and not committed to the family’s course. The things that could attract a serious man to her were missing no wonder Jacob had to be conned to take her. 

Industriousness is one serious quality that is important when selecting a spouse. Lazy spouses bring a lot of undoing to the family’s progress. They are never forward thinking (visionary), always waiting for fish rather than fishing. Woe to a man or woman who lands in the hands of a lazy character. Every man needs a woman who will drive you crazy by putting you on toes over the family plans, shared ideas and utilization of family resources. Imagine the wealth that Jacob had gathered needed to be in the hands of an industrious and highly focused lady.

I believe it is not by sheer coincidence that a number of biblical characters found their life partners by water points watering animals. Isaac, Jacob, Moses are leading examples here.

It therefore goes without saying that even within the family of God, one must proctively look for smart hardworking spouse if a successful marriage is your desire.

Many young men are also indecisive over character. They have flimsy reasons to the extent that they cannot choose between two ladies. Jacob was forthrightly determined that between Leah and Rachel, only Rachel could fulfill the desires of his heart. We must build a stronger sense of purpose and strength of mind to make right choices between two good products. Otherwise we lose it all.

Look at Jezebel and Ahab. She basically lured Ahab to take over Naboth’s vineyard. She brought wickedness upon her family and throne. 

Even in the household of faith. we have the Jezebels, the Athalias who will ruin us if we choose them. Be careful!

What is the influence of the spouse that you marry?

Reading 2 Chronicles 18-23 is like drama. A simple decision by Jehoram when he was fully established to marry one of Ahab’s daughters, Athaliah, causes great havoc in Judah.

Judah’s kings were generally known to follow the way of the Lord just like their father David had done. However, Athaliah from Ahab’s family made this commitment to God wane. She influenced Jehoram who killed all his brothers. Her influence continued even over her son Ahaziah who took over. Cousins were now influencing each other as they were reigning both sides (Israel and Judah). 

Jehoshebah from a different mother (and married to a priest, Jehoiada) hides Joash in the temple till when he is seven years old. Jehoiada’s kindness and obedience to God’s word makes him dethrone Athaliah and installs Joash. 

This story is a clear indication that spousal choice, though personal, must really be a serious concern. Who you are marrying and where the person is coming from is very critical. Check the persons lineage; establish that there is no link with the past.  

My own thoughts are that if Jehoram had not married from Ahab’s family then Judah as a kingdom and Jehoram as an individual would have followed the Lord just as his father Jehoshaphat and grandfather Asa. 

Even Joash probably was influenced again by his cousins to kill Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, the chief priest because of this marriage liaison. 

Marry from a family where there is fear of the Lord either brought by the parents or by the person you want to marry. Deal with generational curses and issues that may interfere with your life as covenant spouse

The influence of chemistry: Most times this is the single most determinant in relationships. Two people meet in a Matatu or in a What’s app group or stray calls, church, funeral, place of work among others and a striking conversation starts off. As they continue talking they connect and soon the conversation takes a different trajectory.

Chemistry drives love relationships to crescendo levels. It thrives because the hormones of happiness and excitement are triggered and released. It is the reason why the bible says that one cannot understand the path of love. The path of love is equated to the path of a lizard on a rock. It is usually the most obvious evidence of a thriving and flourishing relationship. When a couple takes a photo or walks along the street, that is what is used to gauge love. Shall we then say that chemistry is the SI unit of love?

While chemistry is the most glorified indicator, it remains the most deceptive of all signs for a good marriage partner leave alone a relationship. It is the first one that dies or get to a dying mode as soon as there is conflict. It easily turns into “holy anger” when there is disagreement. Anyone using chemistry as the driver of decision making will end up in a ditch if the vehicle does not get the right wheels.

Chemistry can and will dry up. It is actually a seasonal river in marriage oscillating depending on the events, circumstances and many other factors in a marriage relationship. This is not to negate its value but just to deconstruct the fantasy many have. Chemistry just spices a marriage relationship. When it will not be th

In conclusion, chemistry is not as cardinal as having your love decision being driven by Christ centered character. However, it is easy to choose chemistry over any other thing. The choice is yours and the basket of consequences are also yours.

2020 Briefs

Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generation.” George Bernard Shaw

When the year begins our cup runs over with hope. It imbibes some kind of enthusiasm and exuberance to face the future. God in His wisdom decided not to show us what the future has in store apart from hope. Imagine for a moment that He revealed to you what lies ahead! Many of us may faint or not press on.

Hope is the fuel that runs the world. It breaks the monotony of reality that life on earth will be challenging and full of sorrow and pain (Job 14:1). It inspires us to keep trying amidst failures, keep persevering in adversity and to keep holding on for a better tomorrow in the face of a difficult today. 

I am hopeful even when I do not feel like. Though 2020 was devastating am still very hopeful. Thank God for the gift of hope. It is the reason Job says, “Though He slays me yet I will trust Him.” 

Looking back I see hope securing my destiny and granting me energy to move upstream a stormy river which had broken its banks and was sweeping our hope. 

Last year 2020 was one of a kind. Barely two months into the year, the global pandemic set in in Kenya. We all panicked and were unsure of how to handle the situation. Yet it was also a year when many including yours truly experienced monumental growth especially socially, mentally and spiritually. Looking back, though there are painful moments, there are many instances I enjoyed together with my family God’s abundant grace, provision, protection and preservation.

Good health

We enjoyed this in unequaled proportion as none of my family members got admitted unlike previous years. My nuclear and extended families were very healthy most of the times. Knowing what medical bills and costs are in Kenya, I really appreciate this saving done by the hand of my God.

Protection

The covid 19 global pandemic was not an easy one. When the MoH guidelines came out, I found myself staring at the crocodile jaws. Psalm 91 was our scripture that we proclaimed. We had hope that as a family His protection will be our portion now that we fell on the category of the most vulnerable based on the epidemiological information provided by the government.

Provision

It was until children were sent back home that parents and caregivers realized that there more mouths than usual to feed. Household budgets shot up while the household economy either stagnated or went down. Nevertheless, people were supplied. I remember how in our church and many other churches, the food basket grew and members in need received to their fill.

Adios, Darren

Just one month into the year, my family had a terrible loss of our lovely and lively six year old young boy. Darren was a wonderful and exciting one to spend time with. Though born with sickle cell, he always lived a full life: played, ran, talked and had answers and solutions to everything. 

You see am one person who wakes up and drives home without telling my mother just to avoid a lot of preparations from her. My siblings once complained that it is only me who enjoys the privilege of blood being shed when I visit mum. 

This means that most times I would find my mom who is ever engaged in religious activities away from home. Darren would receive me. He would tell me where others are. He would give me a brief of everything happening in the village before going to check if the few goats and cows are okay. 

We lost Darren in the most unfortunate way. As a family we would always spend money to ensure he is well. December 2019, he had been hospitalized for over a week and got healed. February was too soon a period to fall ill again. We had hope that he will recover. As usual blood transfusion was the remedy. This time round doctors in kisumu county had been on strike for a while, the reason why in December we took him to Port Florence. Unfortunately, this time there was also shortage of blood in the whole country. The doctor had sneaked in to save Darren’s life but there was no blood. 

Friends what a painful way to lose a child because Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services (KNBTS) had wrangles and operations for blood donations were not being done. We lost Darren that way. 

Sickness

Sicknesses are a clear reminder that our bodies are tents and can be collapsed anytime. Covid 19 especially was a serious scare. Other life’s conditions also aggravated the matter. I remember a week we spent in prayer for one another and our families after the covid scare. 

Prayer played an important role in infusing hope in us. A number of my friends had sick parents and spouses and we would pray through WhatsApp platforms. With a nation whose medical costs are inflated, the suffering that patients go through is unimaginable. 

Once, I walked to National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) offices in Upper Hill for help. They referred me to Parklands and for two weeks I was shuttling daily to see an officer there. I needed to have them support a medical procedure of 1.2M. The reality is that we become real beggars for a cover that what is said may not match the reality. I hope one day NHIF will think about other mefical conditions apart from cancer. 

To those who have(had) sick family members (parents, spouse, child or siblings) may God’s grace be sufficient. That path is not easy to tread. During my difficult moments I would sing the song by Reuben Kigame and Gloria Muliro “Huniachi”! At other times I would be deep in thought alone and wondering why God’s healing is not just coming especially when you meet friends of the type of Job’s ( Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite). Another period when I was so much frustrated, I felt like going to Uhuru highway with a big notice to let the world know how systems are not working thus aggravating the health situation.

All in all I experienced God’s peace, provision, protection and preservation though it all. 

Job losses and salary cuts

Covid 19 was a good reason for lay offs and salary cuts. Watching the news was so depressing and disgusting. It is a dilemma for executives who have to make these decisions which have to be made anyway. 

2020 we lost jobs and salary cuts yet God proved His faithful provision to us! He provided not just financials but also the gift of friends to encourage and inspire. During desert moments like this, we easily lose bearing but thank God that friends become our signposts and signals. 

It is so painful and demoralizing to wake up one day and realize that your job is not there, find an email of regret or just get to work and find doors or gate closed. It leads to loss of self esteem, loss of direction and at times loss of appetite for living. Before one redirects their lives it is always a tricky period.

For those who experienced this, may you never give up. Hold on help is on the way! Sorrow may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. The Lord is doing a new thing. In His time He makes everything beautiful. Am in earnest prayer for my colleagues, friends and citizens all over the globe that God will open doors more than we ever imagined, opportunities beyond our horizons will flood us so that we struggle with making choice over which organization to work for and what package is better.

Practical friendships

Even if I were to lose everything, I should not lose the gift of friendship. Deep, genuine, caring, concerned and compassionate friends. Friends are our wings who fly us away from storms. They are our bridges in the open seas. 

The year 2020 helped me make new friends and firm up old friendships. My network got expanded, refreshed and renewed. God used them mightily as my ravens to bring me food and water. If you are reading this article you are in the list engraved in my heart. My colleagues at work, my people in church, friends from alumni groups, neighbors and family members are part of this great network of friends who stood for, with and by me. These people encouraged me with every available means: social media, physical visits, phone calls, sharing of opportunities and encouraging me to explore them. I remember a group of colleagues who set out to pray and fast for me for a whole week; friends who would call my wife to know my state; another friend suspected my cash could be drained and just sent cash enough to take me for a whole month. I write this to say thank you.

Vocation

The real test for a man is not when he plays the role that he wants for himself, but when he plays the role destiny has for him.” Vanclav Havel

Christ reminds us to work while it is still day. Service to humanity remains one of the most fundamental and fulfilling assignment we have here on earth. It was great joy seeing us reach more vulnerable children in the society. In Baringo for example we have illiteracy rates as high as 98%. We worked together to see new enrollments in the county as we recruited nearly 8000 children to enrol in schools. Though covid 19 struck, we used the community structures to monitor the children and later go back to school. Clean and safe water access was enhanced for children and women thus reducing dangers of violence against them while moving for long distances for water. Moving to Wajir county to undertake similar work, I pray for God’s favour and acceptance by bosses, community, staff and colleagues. 

Spiritual intimacy

Calamities have a way in which they unsettle us. The water is stirred and we have to move on. Last year provided a great opportunity to experience God’s presence in trials, tests and tribulations. I experienced triumph with every temptation. 

One of the things that happened to me was discovering Consistent Bible Reading (CBR) program. I had been reluctant to join till my wife persuaded me. I was a Jonah in this thing because I knew we will clash with my wife who really loves sleeping and now CBR was going to demand that I wake up very early. 

It is 6 months since we started and so far am rejuvenated in my spirit. As a family we have built a deeper understanding of scripture. We have confessed our sins when the Word we have read has convinced and convicted us of sin. 

I look forward to continue practicing this and have many more become CBR practitioners. You see the word of God commands to “day and night” pattern of reading and meditating upon God’s word. 

Finally, I pray that you flourish in 2021. May you be like a tree planted by the waterside whose leaves does not wither but yields its fruit in season. May you meditate upon His Word day and night so that whatever you do may prosper and be successful.

Practical Friendships

I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. 

Philippians 2:20-21.

A story is told of a group of friends who had a club. Whenever, one of them had an issue, it was their norm to visit and just be there with the person. The twelve of them would go in the afternoon and leave so late in the night. One of them, a businessman who had a shop at the central market, would always not join them. His shop required him. He never attended or participated in meetings for planning logistics of the activity. As the group would be leaving, he would wish them well and give them three packets of milk. One day Ogwel, the shopkeeper, lost his eight year old child. He was crossing the road from school to join his parents at the shop. The excitement took him away from caution. That was a shattering event for the Ogwel’s family. As he was still waiting for his friends, he was hopeful that Makau the chair would start the plans as he usually did for the past issues that befell the members of the team. After all, he had been very active and unlike the others who just went, he had ensured he sends milk apart from his financial contribution. Makau followed up with his members who were very reluctant. They said, they would collect milk and send to him plus the contribution This was a painful experience for Ogwel. He was not sure whether to view this as reaping what he had been sowing or it was betrayal by people he thought were his friends.

In a busy world and environment we easily fall into the trap of not being concerned about one another. We find ourselves engrossed in personal issues that we fail to do what is required of us. Friendship does not just come by being in a similar group whether physical or social media groupings. It does not come by being in the same church, work place school or college. This is not enough to inspire or motivate people to be concerned about each other’s welfare. Not even message about love in 1 Corinthians 13 can make someone love or genuinely be concerned about the welfare of others. 

Majority of the people do not have long term friends. People they started with in primary school or secondary school and they are still keeping them to date especially if they were in those institutions say over ten years ago. When it comes to friendship many have become like butterflies who go through various life cycles and forget their past. At each stage they make new friends who are in that cycle. As soon as they move to the next cycle they forget the previous friends. For example, some as soon as they join another fellowship, club, work place, they literally forget their friends whose company they had enjoyed.

Life on the contrary demands that we build stable and strong friendships that can withstand the test of time and trials and temptations of life. Friendship made in high school and colleges are usually a sure one all of one’s life. The rest that comes in as we get to work, join new places of work or move the economic or social ladder can only cement what is already working. If one keeps a healthy and balanced life, it will be possible to build more friendships.

Friendship is the insurance that one needs for life. Friendship is the resilience that keep us when the earth gives way. Friendship gives us the wings to fly when our wings and the centre cannot hold together. It is those close friends that feel moved by one’s plight. They stop or postpone their plans for the sake of the other wounded soldier. We may disagree occasionally or many times, but friendship strengthens our resolve to face the future with some courage. I look at Job in the bible and how his friends, though had their challenges, stood with him during his trying moment in life.

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamanite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathise and comfort him.”

Job 2:11

Genuine concern

These friends were moved by Job’s deteriorating state. They heard about his troubles. Real friends will hear about your troubles and get concerned. A concern is not just feeling for but feeling with. When you feel with the person you are moved to the next level of action. 

In the world of today mostly the next course of action is text, chat or even call when one is genuinely concerned. However, very few at times are moved by the plight of others. They just watch, plan to do something but take no action at all. Social media can be used to track people with challenges because there are those who will post their issues there. Additionally, you can notice even one’s prolonged silence and gauge if all is well by connecting. 

The other thing I learn about Job’s friends is that they were not single friends but friends who formed a network. As one who is usually involved in raising support for someone, when we have an issue and needs to put our thoughts together we generally look for one’s friends. Whether it is wedding planning, funeral arrangements, bridal bash etceteras, it is your friends who must show genuine interest. They must be willing to be involved. However, there are people who never get involved in other people’s issues either by design or by default. They have made up their minds that they are self sufficient or it is their nature (read personality). Personality cannot be used as an excuse for not being active in people’s lives. Those who fail to build strong friendships are usually just indifferent or selfish.

I see Job’s friends mobilizing one another to action; “….they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathise with him and comfort him..” Ultimately, when all is said and done friendship is manifested deeply not in those who send condolence messages, those who send text of ‘it shall be well”, those who call or those who send money and shopping. Friendship with genuine concern is shown in those who will mobilise one another and be there with and for you. They will be engaged in planning and executing; emotional and physical presence: seen and felt needs. That is what Job’s friends did. They mobilised each other to go and see their friend. Friendship breaks physical, time, work, financial, social and emotional barriers to be there for those in need.

There is a certain a category of people who may not experience this type of concern and care when they face difficulty because they are never there for others. You neither feel nor see their presence whether physical, emotional or social presence. However, they are the category that cry the loudest when tough circumstances befall them. They imagine that because someone else received overwhelming support, it will be automatic when it is their turn. This lot feel they are too busy to find time, have few words to speak or just feel anything crowd will hurt their feelings. When a disaster comes upon an individual it eats up your ability to think, plan and execute. You need others to do it.

Relationship building transcends our personalities. One should learn to build on his or her personality to strengthen his or her friendship with others. It should never be used as an excuse for not being involved or showing concern.

This moment of reaping what one has sown has major unsettling issues including breaking the bondage in a friendship or in a unit as people are moved differently. The solution for this is to wake up our conscience to the reality of selfless living for each other. By the way people may not keep physical records of supporting or standing with others but I have realised there is a way in which they are recorded in the brain. One will just hear someone indicating “that person does not know how to live with others well.”

Then they sat with him for seven days and seven nights“. These three friends show us that your neighbour or friend cannot be in crisis and you do not find time for them. What patience, what manner of strength to stay there for long hours of day and sleepless nights just watching him suffer. There is a sense of strength, comfort and peace that comes when you see your friends near you. Even when they are doing nothing but just being with you makes you feel better. It is a medicinal dose prescribed by nature. It is not the carton or paper bag of shopping that people require when in need but your presence. It is not your purse but your heart. Demonstrate that deep sense of attachment and empathy that elicits hormonal transfers between you two. 

Have you ever been admitted in the hospital and you have friends streaming in at every ” visiting hour”? Do you imagine that? Perhaps you have had a sick person who you were attending to and noticed the loneliness in the sick person next bed- no visitor all the times. It feels good to have friends who genuinely take care. It feels good to have tray of fruits, it feels good to have someone call or hold your palms and say “It shall be well”.

In a world where God is for us all and everyone is for himself, I invite us to build an inviting atmosphere for chemistry with others. Let us build contagious chemistry with people that enables us to have encouragers, motivators, mobilizers, planners, executioners and evaluators. A web of warm friendship that permeates the cold world and the lonely hearts in our midst.

In a world which though has advances in technology for building relationships- social media is one powerful tool that allows you to connect with your friends and your friends’ friends. Yet, we have cases of loneliness, depression and suicide, a clear indication that relationships are either not working, are superficial or something else is wrong. 

Creating friendships require that one is able to create an inviting and contagious atmosphere of love, joy, care and concern that permeates other peoples real, perceived, imagined, tangible and intangible barriers. 

Friendship is the seen part of how we express our emotions to one another. In order to be built, it requires that one gets out of self in order to show attention, acceptance, affection, approval, loyalty, sensitivity, support, silence or even space and respect. When we show these feelings to others they feel attracted and indebted and leads to building a foundation of love, care and concern. Many wants to be loved, shown care while they are not extending a similar hand and heart to their neighbours or people in the same entities. I used to have a colleague who I realised never had cell phone numbers of many people including colleagues. What does such a habit show? Probably that you have no interest in others or you are not interested in them being part of your life.

Practical ways of building friendship

1. Engage people regularly to know how they are doing. Such conversations helps you know what to do and how to support. It also you know how to pray for your friends or people in your sphere.

2. Show others that you care care and are concerned about them. Just a timely text is enough evidence of care. There are those that whenever you see their text or call you only imagine trouble because they never call when they are doing well.

3. Introduce your friends to each other and to your relatives. Social network is such a strong tool especially in an expensive world. It also provides an unending opportunity of learning from each other.

4. Avoid causing troubles or strife within the network or the group. Look for opportunities to strengthen not destroy the network. Gossip, envy, spreading false or true rumours are just some of the things that destroy friendships.

5. Play within the rules (written and unwritten) of the friendship. Most of life’s engagements involves rules which are never written. Common sense is essential in building friendships at any stage of life with individuals or even groups.

6. Create time for others. Friendship is not made in those formal 1-3 hour fellowships or work. It is created before or after the formal sessions. It is cemented by staying longer to be with us and enjoy tea, nyama choma (grilled meat). It becomes firm when you let your ear be on the ground for others. Friendship works when you allow your heart to connect with the other heart(s) and move together.

FATHERHOOD

The fatherhood role is always shadowed when the woman decides to make the children believe she is the only anchor for them.

Fatherhood is at the very heart of God. He is God The Father. It therefore goes without saying that any definition of fatherhood or desire to see or experience fatherhood can only be founded upon the Scripture where the source of Fatherhood is found.

The real fatherhood, then, is trusting God to lead and guide you into the father he wants you to be. It is praying fatherhood into your life or the life of the father of your children. The society should pray for fathers because many things are changing and very few are adapting to meet the demanding changes.

“You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.”

Isaiah 26:3

Fatherhood is critically important. However, the fatherhood role is always shadowed when the woman decides to make the children believe she is the only anchor for them. Fatherhood unlike motherhood only thrives in complementarity. It is so humble. Just like love, it is not self seeking, it does not envy, it does not boast,  it does not thrive in an environment of competition. Did you realise that during mother’s day, we don’t celebrate single fathers but during Father’s day you see how we have single mother’s who declare to  themselves a “Happy father’s Day”.

It is important to realise that doing the work of a father or a mother in that case does not qualify one to be called mother or father. We have many people who can prescribe a drug or two over a certain condition and that does not qualify them to be doctors. Even doing the work of a pastor or evangelist never qualifies one to be either. 

Mothers have an important role in nurturing fatherhood in the lives of the men who sired their children. While today’s society has more children living with their mothers than fathers, it is important we appreciate how fatherhood is critically invaluable. However, we continue to erode the important stature of fatherhood by trying to make it look like something that a single mother can do. Fatherhood goes beyond raising responsible children. There is a deeper indescribable thing. It is why we discuss paternity and have the matter handled at DNA centres and courts. 

Fatherhood then is an evidence of one’s roots, originality, the traits you possess and a sign of the future you will live. It provides a deep sense of belonging and association. It evokes deeply rooted emotional sense of being someone else’s thing. 

Fatherhood is a secure sense of provision. The security and safety that comes with the presence of a father even those who do not provide adequately is deep. Most men spend many hours away from their homes either in search of income to fend for the family. However, the extra role is to be with the children, teach them values for whole living if not holy living. A father must find time to play with the children and just laugh together. It makes the children realise how normal a human you are. You see most children are used to seeing the father in a state of harshness when discipline is being meted. Creating time to play and have fun makes the difference. All these bring the secure livelihoods required in children growth.

Did you know that children never remember the fees you paid, the food you brought home, the clothes you bought them (as a father)? On the contrary, every child remembers the struggles of the mother- pocket money given (with that emotional touch of “najua chakula ya shule haitoshi”), food brought to school, some mitumba given etceteras. Why this is so is unclear. 

It is for this reason that fathers and mothers must work extra in order for the children to experience a  glimpse of fatherhood. A mother always has an emotional way of sharing issues. This easily attracts and retains children attention and memory. 

Growing up I never saw much of my father save for the negatives. My children have also told me the same during this year’s father’s Day. It is out of this I decided to go on a journey and rediscover the many things that my dad did to make me who I am. I learnt to be courageous from him. He loved education. He stood with those who needed support. Many people in class eight would receive their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education results from him as he would get them straight from Nairobi. He had right connections in the right places and he used all these to support not just his family but also the whole community. These accolades sound very good but imagine as children it takes a lot more effort to see them. 

The joy is in the fact that I belong and is associated with him. The happiness that comes with the swag, “My son”. It brings a sense of pride irrespective of who your father is- educated or not educated;poor or rich; friendly or not friendly. A father’s position is irreplaceable, irreversible and irrevocably unequivocal. 

With fathers being held to account for money, time and space spent away from home, many are finding themselves on the receiving end of tongue lashing mothers at times even in the presence of children. Wading through the family politics to strengthen fathers commitment to their children and wives requires a lot of wisdom and understanding. Probably, the reason the Scripture demands of wives (mothers) to “respect” their husbands. 

Respect is the single most required virtue to make a father build his fatherhood. It builds the ego needed to stand up like a man. It provides room for negotiating family deals between mom, dad and when need be children. While the world says “wisdom is earned” the Scripture just say “respect”. Every woman has to work on this aspect of respect consciously, deliberately and intentionally. This is because a father or man has continued to evolve. 

Today some of the things that made a man to be respected in the previous generation have long been eroded. Provision of family needs including food, security among others is no longer a preserve of the man alone. This puts the father (man) in the tight spot. On the other hand it erodes the respect the position of father (also read as husband or man) usually have.

Fathers have an important role in pronouncing their blessings upon the children. From the Scripture, it is clear this is a role reserved for the father. It was a highly sought after divine blessing that required the father to undertake. 

Half time Drill check list

Fathers at this point in history may need to take time out and evaluate one’s own performance. 

  1. What do I want to be remembered for as a father by my children and by extension all the children in my community?
  2. How am I fairing now in my fatherhood pilgrimage?
  3. Is my life balanced enough to be available and  accessible for my family?
  4. What is my primary loyalty in life? What do I pledge allegiance to? Are they eternal values and goals that others will ride on?
  5. Have I broken the barrier ands received the breakthrough to take my children to another level beyond where my father left me?

These are life evaluaton questions that can help one build his fatherhood to significance. The Psalmist poses to God in Psalm 139:23-24:

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is an offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. “


Psalm 139:23_24

We as fathers need to check whether the moral decadence from our children- teenage sex, drugs, pornography, rebellion- are as a result of neglect by fathers to undertake their God given role. 

A father’s role is to create, bring or restore order and sanity. In any family set up, their presence brings a sense of discipline or respect for everything. In his book, The power of students and Youth Mentorship, Patrick Simiyu says:

“The absence of one source of influence in the society means the presence of the other…If you are not fathering your children, someone/ something else is.”

We have to rise up fathers and be courageous to do our divinely inspired call. We cannot fail our mothers, wives, children and the society as a whole. We must stand up and be counted. We must go back and get our children who single mothers are taking of because we have abandoned with wanton neglect those children. We must be courageous enough to face head on the circumstances that make it difficult for us to father our children and the society. We must go up, climb the mountains and rise to the mountaintop and proclaim victory so that our children can realise it is possible. We must be the example for our children. Fathers must be the real players in the field of parenting by becoming the ever present (help) father that every child longs for. Fatherhood cannot be compensated via child support. It must be lived cheerfully, passionately and gracefully. 

Tenacity

wambiablog

This journey is a unique one. Difficult decisions. Broken relationships. Ungrateful communities. Yet we must still press on and be on the right side of history. The journey of Abraham to the promised land is dotted with all these mishaps. Probably it is a journey of tenacity; of holding on even when the centre does not hold.

I neither has a secret to learn, nor a technique to master nor a formula to receive. However, I will say again, persevere, hold on, be tenacious. Abraham must have lived by Job’s statement quoted in Job 8:9; 36:27:

“For we were born yesterday, and know nothing because our days on earth are a shadow….Behold God is great, and we do not know Him.”

In his book, Pentecost- Today?, Ian H. Murray says, “At every point His work runs far beyond our comprehension; His creative power in the womb of Mary; His…

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