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At the Hour of our DEATH…

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Two years ago, my father, in the presence of his devoted wife and his eldest son, kissed the world goodbye. I am trying to cultivate a habit of attending mass on his memorial. Today on my way to mass I pondered many things. Yes I miss my father but after the end of my ponders, all I could say was Laudate Yesus Kristus- Praise be to Jesus.

All parents have dreams for their children. They pray for success for them, that they may live a good life, that they may not fall, that the world would be kind to them, that their dreams may come true. All noble and valid dreams. They can only hope we live the dreams. Sometimes, many times, we disappoints, but the candle of their hope always burns. The irony is the values and character instilled in us by those long gone manifest brighter because we try to live true to those things they inspired us to become… Laudate Yesus Kristus

I had dreams with/for my father. I prayed that I would finish high school well, and that he would be there when I graduated. God granted me that. I prayed that he would see me graduate from college. God kept him healthy not only for my undergraduate, but for my graduate degree too. I prayed that he would walk me down the isle. God made it happen. I prayed that he would see his grandchildren by me, and yes, God made that happen too. My regret is he did not get to meet his granddaughter, but then maybe I am dreaming too much. I thank God because I lived my dream moments with him. Not all, but then again, God is faithful… Laudate Yesus Kristus.

Grief is hard. There is no formula for going through grief. A part of us dies when those we love die. We handle grief differently. Some of us shut ourselves in. Others will want to be constantly in the presence of others. Others choose silence. Others chooses bitterness and self pity. Others just survive, one day at a time. Others do all these all at a go or in phases. In my grief, I found someone to be strong for. My daughter. Maybe my formula can work for someone else. Who can we be strong for in our grief? Our parents? Our spouses? Our siblings? Best friend? Who can act as that pillar so that every time we look or feel them we are encouraged to soldier on? When grief strikes, it is easy to let it swallow us but when all is gone, we must go on. They have lived their life. They have fought their wars. They have run their race. We still have a race to run. We must soldier on. This can be something to help us grieve in strength… Laudate Yesus Kristus

Every hour that passes brings us closer to the hour of our death. Today reminded me that each passing moment I get closer to the hour of my death. How am I preparing for this hour, for myself and for those I love. I know that my dad did many things for us before he left. The toughest most families face is administration of their estates. He did it all. Am I prepared for departure? May we live in a way that when that hour comes we will not start a bargain with Christ, if we will have a chance, but we will say, here I am Lord, I am ready to come home… Laudate Yesus Kristus

Friendships count. I cry many times when I think of my father. I would cry because he was gone. I still cry, but not because I will not see him again. I cry  because of the kindness of the friends in my life. Their sacrifices were beyond what any human person could imagine. I can never repay that, but my dear friends, just know in my heart I give thanks to God for you and I pray that whenever you will need a shoulder to cry on, some pillar to lean on, someone to smile with and laugh and be silly and pray with and for you, that God will provide one for you, maybe not me, but for sure God will remember your kindness and for the same measure you gave, it will be measured to you, plus a little more to overflow… Laudate Yesu Kristus

 

Article 49- The Sanctity and the dignity of the Human Person- Part II Dignity

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Merriam Webster Dictionary defines dignity as the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. Human dignity is a central consideration of Christian philosophy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church insists the dignity of the human person is rooted in his or her creation in the image and likeness of God. This augments the argument on the sanctity of the person. Because man is created holy due to the fact that he is in the image and likeness of God who is Holy, then, each human person is worthy of honor and respect. Human dignity is something that can’t be taken away. Catholic Social Teaching states that each and every person has value, are worthy of great respect and must be free from slavery, manipulation and exploitation. “Catholic social teaching believes that human beings, created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), have by their very existence an inherent value, worth, and distinction” (Daniel Groody “Globalization, Spirituality and Justice”).

The Bible teaches us that we are all one in Christ and should therefore be treated equally without discrimination – Galatians 3:28 ; There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Treating others with dignity follows the golden rule, that is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. If you would wish to be given a drink when thirsty, then give a drink to the thirsty, if you would not wish anyone to steal your property, then do not steal, if you desire to be respected, please respect, if you want to be treated kindly and with mercy, the be kind and merciful. There are many ways of treating each other with dignity and honor and respect for instance respect, food provision, security, clothing and use of proper language.

SexualityI am however going to focus my article on sexuality. A contemporary definition of Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually.  This includes physical, emotional, social and biological ways among others. The biological and physical aspects of sexuality largely concern the human reproductive functions including the human sexual response cycle for both male and female. Physical and emotional aspects of sexuality involve the bonds that are expressed through physical manifestations like touching, kissing, caressing and the conjugal act, or emotional manifestations like trust, love and care.  Social aspects express the effects of human society on one’s sexuality.

Sexuality 2The Catholic Church teaches that human life and human sexuality are inseparable. From deductive reasoning, since God created human beings in His own image and likeness, hence our holiness, and he found His creation to be very good, human body and sex then must also be very good. The Church considers the expression of love between husband and wife in the conjugal act to be an elevated form of human activity, joining husband and wife in complete, mutual self-giving, and opening their relationship to new life. Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. And this marks the church’s teaching of application of the conjugal act.  In the Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI explained that the sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is noble and worthy and very good. The church teaches that sex is unitive and procreative, purposes which are not mutually exclusive. You cannot achieve one purpose and exclude the other. And since it is designated for couples, it exclusive to that particular couple. The conjugal love aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul since marriage is a sign of the Love between God and Humanity.

The Catechism further teaches about chastity as a way of respect of ones sexuality. It explains that chastity is the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. Meaning that how we express ourselves sexually should be a way in honor of that special bond between a man and woman. Anything that contradicts this love and honor becomes wrong and offends not only the intention but also the people violating the intentions. Chastity is thus a way of dignifying our sexuality. Chastity is a journey of self-mastery where either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. Human Dignity requires each one of us to act towards self-mastery, by freely choosing to do what is right by his diligence and skill, ensuring that he/she does not offend the virtue of chastity, whether his/her own or of those he/she interacts with.  We should cultivate chastity in the way that is suited to our state of life. Married people are called to live conjugal chastity or conjugal fidelity.

Societal trends view the body as an object of pleasure or as a machine for manipulation. In these cases, sexual expression is sought outside sacramental marriage for the sole purpose of selfish pleasure or lustful reasons and the procreative function of sexual expression within marriage is deliberately frustrated. In sexuality this is manifested by individual pursuit of satisfaction of lust. Lust is a disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes. For instance in;

Masturbation where there is deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure;

Fornication which is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman – contrary to the intention of sex naturally ordered for the good of the spouses and transmission of life;

Adultery which refers to marital infidelity, that is, two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations – even transient ones; Incest which is intimate relations between relatives within which marriage is prohibited against them;

Pornography which consists of removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties thus offending chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, that is,  the intimate giving of spouses to each other, it does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, and the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others and it immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world;

Prostitution which does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure while the one who pays sins gravely against himself by violating his own gift of chastity and offending the one he pays by objectifying the person; and

Rape which is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person – deeply wounding the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life.

 In the Theology of the Body, St. John Paul II encourages a true reverence for the gift of our sexuality and challenges us to live it in a way worthy of our great dignity as human persons. We are therefore called to live worthy and honorable lives with regard to our sexuality. We should live chaste lives with regard to our state of life, whether unmarried, celibate or married. We should pray for graces to avoid anything that offends our own chastity and the chastity of those we interact with because in doing so we are treating them with the sexual dignity that we all deserve.

Article 48- The Sanctity and the Dignity of the Human Person- Part I ;Sanctity

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sactityMerriam Webster Dictionary defines Sanctity as the quality or state of being holy or sacred or Holiness of life and character. Holy means devoted entirely to God, or consecrated to God, or set apart for God. According to Catholic Resources website, The Catholic church teaches that Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, Who is its sole end.

From the scripture, we gather that each of us is unique and special to God and each of us here is on a special assignment. Jeremiah 1:5 says “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” This implies that we are not here by accident, the Lord fashioned us, not just to be but for Himself. Psalms 139:13-16 further says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” From the moment of conception, God delights in us because the author of Psalms further proclaims this by saying that God’s works are wonderful. This is augmented in Genesis where after creation of man God says that He looked at everything and saw it was VERY GOOD.

From the scripture we also gather that we are not only unique and special, but also holy. This is because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Because God is Holy and we are created in His likeness, we too are Holy. It is in this regard that we are constantly urged in the scripture to live holy and pure lives, consecrated to God. 1 Peter 1:15 says that He that called us and consecrated us is Holy and we too need to be Holy in all manner of conversations. Not only in conversations but also in total offering of ourselves, mind body and soul, as pleasing sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2).

It is a general trend to treat places of worship with respect. People dress decently, they approach the places with lowliness, we observe silence, avoiding social activities in places of worship e.g. partying and drinking, we maintain order, we keep them sparkling clean, we decorate them with flowers, we even avoid any form of distraction like ringing phones, texting and others even do not wear shoes to such places. We avoid any form of behavior that we would associate with lack of holiness. We revere this places and treat them with the respect and dignity which they deserve. One thing every major religion has in common is an aversion to scantily-clad mortals in its houses of worship. For guys, shorts are almost always a no-no, and for girls, short skirts, visible shoulders and under-arms are often frowned upon and cleavage exposure are equally taboo. It is uncommon to fight in church, to display pornographic content, hold beer parties, and walk naked into these places or conduct trade among others. We believe that these activities would be disrespectful to God. It is a general understanding that we should not do anything to defile these places. Christ, when he found people trading in the temple whipped and chased them all away because they were defiling what is Holy with unholy acts. Before we even treat the buildings with the holiness they deserve, we should remember that we are the first temple and should treat ourselves and each other as Holy temples of God.

The scriptures declare that the body is a temple (1 Cor. 3:16–17). It requires us therefore to treat ourselves and those who we interact with as temples of God. What would happen if we truly treated our bodies as temples? The result would be a dramatic increase in chastity, modesty, observance of the Word, decrease in the problems of pornography, abuse -physical, emotional, sexual, economic, verbal,etc-, immorality, slander, lying, adultery, fornication,  among others for we would regard the body, like the temple, as a sacred sanctuary of the Spirit. Just as no unclean thing may enter the temple, we would be vigilant to keep impurity of any sort from entering the temple of our bodies. These impurities are acquired through the things we see, the thoughts we entertain, our acts and our words. This encourages us today to ask ourselves, is what I am doing defiling the temple that I am? Am I thinking pure thoughts? Is what I intend to do going to defile the sanctity of my friend, my child, my spouse, my neighbor? Paul in His letter to the Philippians urges us that “In your relationships with one another, we should have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)”.  Would Jesus be filming that pornographic video and putting it online? Would he be downloading and watching? Would he be capturing nude photos of my girlfriend for purpose of sending it to others? Would He be beating the wife or planning to kill her? Would He be encouraging young people to procure abortions? Would he be tapping that a**. Would he be scheming how to rape his daughter or be involved in paedophile? Would he be organising mass bombings?

In conclusion, our bodies are God’s sacred creation. We should respect them as a gift from God and not defile them in any way. We should live constantly questioning ourselves what churches we are providing for Christ in our bodies and what respect we accord God’s church in regard to how we treat others’ bodies. We should live in such a way we always exalt Christ so we may not ashame Him in life or in death (Philippians 1:20).

Therefore let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Life Lessons – On Marriage

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Two months ago, on 2nd September, 2017,   I attended a friends’ wedding at the Holy Family Basilica. There are many things that make weddings exciting, from the flowers, the happy faces, the smiling people, the wonderfully adorned bride and the her carefully selected bridal party, the charming girls and boys, the music… the list is endless. While weddings still make me cry, I want to share the teachings from this one from the celebrating priest…

  1. The people who cause us so much heartache and pain are the people we love the most. Those who are supposed to bring joy into our life. The pain can be caused by anything, from continued neglection, criticism, lack of responsibility, distancing self from your spouse, cheating, not defending your spouse from externalities from other people among others. Our spouses will hurt us, more than once. We are human and it is that weakness that make us wrong those we come in contact with many times. Our humanity though is perfected in Christ. In Christ we can look at the other person, acknowledge our weakness and tell them, I am sorry. In apologizing we acknowledge that we are ready to start all over. In a clean slate. In seeking forgiveness, we acknowledge we have caused hurt, and that we are ready to mend the wound that we have inflicted. We acknowledge responsibility of inflicting that wound and seek never to wound again.
  2. God institutes Marriage. God sustains marriage. He cannot sustain it if we do not commit it to Him. The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator. God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator (Catechism of the Catholic Church-1603). There are joys in Marriage. In the contemporary society, wine is usually shared in joyous moments. In the Bible, during the wedding at Canaan, the wedding ceremony was running out and the hosts were expressing anxiety. Christ, who was invited as a guest, restored that joy by bringing in new wine, in His own way. We must invite Christ to our marriages, so that when our wines run out, He will always be there to restore that which we have lost, squandered, rejected, or left behind. With Christ,there is abundance Joy. In Him, our marriages will last. He will rejuvenate when we run dry. May we always remember to invite Christ. May we always consult Him who instituted it when challenges come.
  3. We should not found our marriages on “Accidents”. I have talked severally of accidents and substance in my previous write ups (Article 46: Accidents VS Substance-A new Hope for Kenya; Accidents vs Substance…). We may want to found our marriage on physical appearance, financial stability, tribal lines, political views etc. All these are transitory. We cannot found lasting marriages on something transitory. We have to found our marriages in Christ. Christ enables our human selves to always appreciate our substance, the substance in our spouses. The closer we are to Christ, the closer in communion we remain in Christ, as a couple, the closer we remain in communion with each other.
  4. Let our love be perfect. We are human beings. The many divine things we are endowed are limited by our humanness. Love is a gift of the Holy spirit. While we may receive it with abundance, exercising  it is limited by the fact that we are human. We, more often than not, notice the imperfections in the other and that which made us look at each other in awe, disappears and in its place we look at each other in disgust. Christs instructs us to love each other as He has loved us. We are very imperfect people in the eyes of God, but He loves us still. We are also called to love our imperfect spouses the way Christ loves us. Love their imperfections as much as we love their perfections. Imperfections can be overcome, but only if we are willing to surrender to the inspiration that Jesus brings to the union. Personal imperfections can also be overcome, when we work hard to grow in faith, and in love that Christ instills in us. We commit ourselves to being better than yesterday.
  5. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is the salve that heals wounds we inflict on each other often. In forgiveness we sacrifice, even our rights, for the well being of the institution, for the well being of our spouse. Many are the times we will wound the gift of love, out of our weakness, out of pride, out of our belief in entitlement, out of arrogance, out of our fears and complexities. However being offended should not be the last word, just like sin is not the last word with our relationship with Christ.

Let the Lord build our house and watch over our city. If God does not do it, we labor in vain. May we always invite God to journey with us in our marriages. In Him, we will always have the joys of marriage, just like they were when we first got married. Not because there wont be problems, not because there wont be storms but because, with Christ, we will have the grace to sing and dance in the rain.

One year on…

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1477930069246It has been a year since she was born! Time does fly; literally. It has also been a year and a month since my dad passed away. While this article features her, Angelica, it is not about her. It is my thank you note to all who have been with me, us for the last one year plus the months I was expecting.

I consider her my strength because of many things. She was conceived at a time when my dad was in his last stages of cancer wars, hospitalized most of the time. It was a challenge not to be depressed, but had to stay sane for her. She brought her own challenges during pregnancy. I had crazy pelvic pains, I was dizzy most of the time, and I could barely stay on my feet for a couple of minutes. I could not travel on my own, I had to request for company any time I needed to go visit my dad in hospital; I even had to get someone to accompany me to do her shopping. My dad passed away when I was 7 and a half months pregnant.  It was rough but she gave me reasons to stay strong. She came five weeks after. She was born when I had not even started mourning his death. How could I mourn?

Amid all this, there were angels who kept me company. Those who traveled with me when I needed to go and see my dad, those who accompanied me when I needed to go to town and do the ordinary things like buy shoes, those who called to check on me, those who prayed with me and for me when I couldn’t pray, those who gave me an intention to pray for when I did not have any, (I don’t know how many times I asked myself what to pray for), the colleagues who exempted me from responsibilities, those who sent me cash to boost whatever we had when the bills were crazy, those who shared a smile, when I had no reason to smile, those who reminded me that there was a reason to be grateful, there always is a reason to be grateful, those who gave me hugs, those who cried literally with me when it was too much to hold inside, those who came to be with us in dads final journey. There is a friend of mine who took leave to come and stay with me the whole week I was home for the funeral arrangements and funeral itself. I appreciate you. You don’t know how much difference you made. By your being, by your presence, by your prayers, I had the energy to sing and dance in the rain.

If you are going through the same, expectant and having it rough, look for reasons to be happy, to smile, no matter how elusive they may seem. Find a reason to fight for that baby you are carrying, find strength in knowing that there is someone literally walking with you, every day and every night. Let the child hug you from within and give you strength to stay sane. Let the child in you, every time they kick, remind you that smiling amid every hardship is possible. If you have a patient, cancer or otherwise, taking care of them personally or someone else is, I can relate to your pain, I can relate with your desperation, I can relate with your hopelessness, I can relate with your looking at God and asking why oh why, I can relate with broke, I can relate with your tears, I can relate with that smile of strength when you are screaming inside, I can relate with the tears you fight back in public, I can relate with that urge to close yourself in and shut the world out. Reach out for help, accept any that is offered. It is in doing so that you allow those who would want to be with you on this journey to actually know how they can help. I have learnt that sometimes people don’t really know what to do to those going through tough times but when you reach out they get a sense of direction. Don’t feel bad if the help from the obvious from your circles is not forthcoming, they could be slaying their own dragons too; accept help from the unexpected sources, these are the angels God has sent to walk with you; avoid traumatizing yourself physically and emotionally. If you would throw yourself and roll when morning, then hold yourself for just one second and hit the pillow instead. Cry if you must, call unto God, and tell Him your hopelessness, but pray. Watching someone you love go down that road, a road of knowledge that they will be gone eventually and knowing that you cannot do anything about it is hard, but there’s something you can do. Pray for that person, that God may prepare their souls for their eventual encounter, that when he eventually dies, he will die in the arms of Christ. There is this prayer that we do not think about often as Catholics,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nakutoleeni moyo na roho na uzima wangu,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nijulieni saa ya kuszimia roho yangu,

Yesu, Maria na Yosefu, Nifanyizieni nife mikononi mwenu

You can do this on their behalf. “Ajaliwe kifo chema”. Is it crazy to pray for the salvation of the dying, no! We pray that when they die, their lives will then be truly transformed because, as Christians we believe in death life in not ended, it is changed. Are we wishing them death when we pray for their moment of death, no, we are praying so that they may reconcile themselves with their maker, who loved them before they came to this world, that when they are gone, they may go to He who loved them the most when they lived here on earth and they will be in a state of Grace to see Him face to face.

If you know anyone going through some tough times, someone who has a cancer patient, or any patient all together, or someone who is mourning, someone who has lost hope in themselves, and the world, someone who believes there world has come to an end, strive to be there for them in any way. Extend a shoulder, a smile, a moment of your time, a prayer (lots of prayers), a word of encouragement, a pent-up-energy-release moment, send them some money even without them asking, smile at them, walk with them when they need you, and be kind, offer to do something they need to do. There is a tendency for most people to shut the world out when they are in this state. If they let you in, be the strength they need to walk out of the dark tunnel in a single piece.

I always say that we were not created alone in this world for a reason. As I commemorate my dad’s memorial, I also celebrate my baby’s birthday. I thank God for everything. But more so, for those who walk this life with me, with us, me and mine. We are blessed to have you in our lives. Your contribution to who we have become, and who we will become make us forever indebted.

Happy Birthday Angelica…

It is also the feast day of St. Rose of Lima, Happy feast day my Sister Rose…

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Roho ya muumini Marehemu Yohane, apate rehema kwa Mungu, Apumzike kwa Amani, Amina.

 

Superwoman…

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MamahoodWe all have heard that woman are great, women can carry a million and one things on their shoulders and not flinch, that they can smile with tears on their faces and they carry a multitude of secrets in their hearts… Well there is one breed of a woman who definitely takes the crow. A woman called MOTHER…

I have been wondering how they actually survive, especially when the children are still under five. A typical Nairobi lifestyle demands  a “Five to Eight” kind of work environment, where you leave the house and five in the morning and return at eight in the evening. Work demands are varied with deadlines to meet, crazy bosses to deal with and keeping yourself concentrating on the job. When a mother gets home, they have to deal with hyper active toddlers, homework, and at night they can be awake half the night because, John had a nightmare and Jerry could not sleep and breastfed the whole night and Katie had fever that needed monitoring. And in the morning the cycle begins all over.

Wake up at four, dress up and go to work and be 100% productive. That is just basic family unit. Add the crazy tout who yelled at her, a friend who she needs to hook up because she needs a shoulder to cry on, a mum who is unwell, brothers and sisters who need scorning, a graduating relative, a bereaved neighbor, the careless driver who dented her car, the cop or “Kidero cop” who took her in for questioning on some unidentifiable offence, and the list goes on.

Well, if you ever catch her gesticulating, smiling sheepishly on the street, bad hair day, screaming at you for no particular reason, staring blankly or just on a 3% conversation concentration, give her a break. she needs it. She will bounce back in no time. but for just a second, let her retreat to a world only she lives in. The world of being a super person.

HATS OFF to all mothers out there who brave the world with a smile each day. Celebrate yourself often because, only God really understands what you go through in the motherhood journey.

NFP: Just another form of contraception? By Jeanette Alexander

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nfpContrary to popular belief, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is not “Catholic Contraception” like it is commonly misconstrued. It isn’t the outdated “calendar rhythm method” either, where a woman estimates when her fertile period is, based on information gleaned from her previous six cycles. This method is quite unreliable indeed. So what exactly is NFP and what’s all the fuss about?
Natural Family Planning or NFP is an umbrella term for scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies by observing the fertility signals of a woman’s body to determine the most likely days of conception in the month. Some methods of NFP include the Sympto-Thermal Method, the Creighton Model System of FertilityCare (CrMS), and the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM).
The BOM is the method taught locally at NFP Singapore. Essentially, NFP is an approach to fertility awareness and management; a way of life and responsible parenting.
Natural Family Planning vs Contraception
Contraception (“Contra” means against and “ception” refers to conception) is the deliberate use of artificial substances, methods and techniques to interrupt or sterilize an act of sexual intercourse with the use of a host of drugs and/or devices, to prevent pregnancy. The more common forms include the condom or sheath; the contraceptive pill, which contains synthetic sex hormones to prevent ovulation in the female; intrauterine devices (IUD) which prevent the fertilized ovum from implanting in the uterus; and male or female sterilization (vasectomy and tubal ligation).
In a very informative and enlightening interview on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), famed author and chastity speaker Jason Evert draws some clear distinctions between contraception and natural family planning and defines NFP as “the method of avoiding or achieving pregnancy based on observing the changes in a woman’s body that indicate her fertility. This method of planning a family, he explains, is scientifically endorsed by the British Medical Journal as 99% effective (with proper use), without the harmful effects of chemicals and devices. It is a “totally natural way to plan out one’s family if you have a good reason to space out your family,” says Evert.
He weaves in a great analogy about NFP vs Contraception being two women who want to maintain slim figures – one who’s dieting and the other who is bulimic. Both have the same goal of losing weight and keeping it off, he says, but their approaches and methods are entirely different. The woman who is dieting practises temperance by sacrificing and avoiding fatty foods while maintaining the discipline to exercise regularly. The bulimic woman, on the other hand, “binges on all kinds of fatty foods and then throws up to purge the weight-gaining effects of bingeing”. Contraception is like the woman who binges and throws up. NFP is the woman who practises temperance and sacrifice. Contraception is like bingeing on sex and then purging its life-giving effects, says the father of five, who is expecting his sixth with wife Crystalina Evert early next year.
NFP is Couple Orientated
NFP is also couple orientated and promotes sharing and joint responsibility in family planning. It helps cultivate intimacy in a marriage and enriches it, since the same qualities that make marriage work such as respect, patience, fidelity, regard, self-mastery, understanding and consultation are required and developed when a couple faithfully practises NFP. Since the methods of NFP respect the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) nature of the conjugal act, they support God’s design for married love. It is an entire approach to life.
Love and Responsibility
In his book Men, Women and the Mystery of Love (Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility), Dr Edward Sri highlights that according to the canonised Pope, contraception is not just immoral, it “destroys the love between a husband and wife in marriage”. He brings to light four important points St John Paul the Great made:
Accepting the Possibility of Parenthood: for sexual relations to become a true union of persons, it must be accompanied in the mind and will by the acceptance of the possibility of parenthood. Sexual union itself does not automatically bring about a true union of love. One of the key ingredients needed to make the bodily union between a man and woman an expression of an even deeper personal union of love is a willingness to accept the possibility that through the sexual act, “I may become a father” or “I may become a mother” (227-228). This openness to parenthood is crucial if love is to mature in a marriage. He adds: “When a husband and wife are truly open to life in their marital relations, it is as if they are looking each other in the eye and saying, ‘I love you so much I am even willing to embark on the adventure of parenthood with you’”.
Rejecting Parenthood, Rejecting one’s spouse: Contraceptive sex is not just a rejection of the possibility of parenthood, but a certain rejection of the other person, in that it prevents the physical union of marital intercourse from blossoming into a full personal union of love, says JPII (228). When spouses reject the possibility of becoming parents together in the marital act, the focus of their experience in sexual intercourse becomes merely “centered on sexual pleasure”. It is as if they are saying
“I want the sensual pleasure from this act, but I reject the possibility of you becoming a parent with me” (234).
Periodic Continence: While couples should never reject the possibility of parenthood in sexual intercourse, John Paul II teaches that they do not need to “positively desire to procreate on every occasion when they have intercourse” (233). Couples may face certain situations in which they desire to postpone the conception of a child. In those cases, they may choose to abstain from having sexual relations during the times the woman is most likely to be fertile.
Still open to life: According to St John Paul, the most important point to consider involves the couple’s attitude towards procreation. Periodic continence may be used to help regulate conception, but it should not be used to postpone having a family. The Pope explains, “We cannot therefore speak of continence as a virtue where the spouses take advantage of the periods of biological infertility exclusively for the purpose of avoiding parenthood altogether” (242), pointing out that the good of the family should be weighed seriously before practising periodic continence, as he notes that “giving children siblings can contribute in an important way to a child’s education and upbringing, since brothers and sisters form a natural community that helps shape the child”.
Fertility is a gift
Jason Evert puts it beautifully: “There is no reason to interrupt the sexual act at the moment we are supposed to be renewing our wedding vows. If we are going to come together as one flesh, it should be as God designed: in the love of husband and wife”.
After all, fertility is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love tends to be fruitful (CCC 2366).

5 things to remember when your child gets a seizure/ Convulses

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Child

Mom monitoring a seizure in a child

The first time I heard of Epilepsy, was in a first aid class I helped organize for a group of pro-life students in 2003 when I was in college. And of course it rarely concerns you until it hits home… You will read a lot of the seizures, the types, and one thing you will realize is, most common child seizures are caused by fever. Of course there are those that just happen, and doctors brand them atypical, but in simple terms, that is just epilepsy. Your child has a seizure whose cause cannot be explained, then they have epilepsy. It is a big and scary word. And traumatizing. But it is actually scarier to watch your child convulse. Having witnessed 2 in a span of 6 months, I am no expert, but I have a tip or two to share if you ever find yourself in my shoes. This may not be limited to children, but if you ever be in a place where one is having a seizure, the procedure of what you need to do more or less remains the same.

A typical -grand mal- seizure more or less takes place in the same way or follows the same pattern. The casualty stretches out, goes rigid and falls, then jerking movements, then often but not always grinding of teeth, then sleep. Each phase takes different lenth of time. One seizure may not necessarily take as long s the one before, or one stage may take longer or shorter time than the previous one. Here is waht you do:-

  1. Thou shall not panic:- As a parent watching your child going through all that , the first instinct is, scream, pick up the child and run to hospital. I did that and when I got to hospital, I was asked questions I could not answer. So as a parent or observer, it is your time to be most sane. Everything that you are going to observe in the next few seconds to a few minutes counts in terms of what diagnosis and tests will be given to your child. Don’t panic, no matter how hard it sounds.
  2. Get a soft landing:- By this I mean, remove the danger from the casualty or remove the casualty from danger, whichever is easier. If it is a child, place them on a soft bed or couch or put something soft under them. This will ensure that when they jerk they do not injure themselves further. If the casualty is an adult, break the fall. Hold them as they fall, ensure the ground around them is free of stones, sharp object etc. Do not try to wedge the child’s mouth open or place an object between the teeth, and do not attempt to restrain movements (seizurekids.com). This should also apply to adults as well.
  3. Take note of what happens while the person is in the fit:- One thing you will sure be asked when you get to hospital is “Describe the seizure”. How will you describe if you did not observe? Take note of the times of each phase. How long did the casualty stretch or was stiff, how long did the jerking movements take, how were the jerks, just the hands or both hands and feet, how long did they sleep immediately after the seizure? Most importantly, check for fever.
  4. When they fall asleep,now do what you were to do in the panic state:- After seizure, the casualty sleeps. Now you can panic. Run to your room, get your wallet and baby bag, call a cab, run out of the door and call the neighbor. Get to hospital. Whatever you do, make sure you get you child to hospital especially if it is the first seizure. As soon as possible. After all the 3 above are done. If it is a subsequent one, you probably already have a neurologist, call them, inform them, schedule a check up with them.
  5. Be ready for the checks:- While you are riding to hospital, prepare yourself psychologically for the check ups. Once you get to the hospital, you will answer on what you noted on the above. Was the child on medication, remember the names of the medication he was on. Is there a history of epilepsy in your family? If it is the first convulsion, and there was no fever, and the above checks out as okay according to the doctor seeing you, they will do a lot of blood checks. They check for infections, blood sugar among many other things. If that comes out negative, they will do a head scan to check for trauma (read injuries to the head). They will actually tell you to hold the child as he goes into that machine. Its a tough journey. If that comes out normal, they will admit the child and monitor. when they rule out the possibility of a second seizure, you will be advised to go home and of course return if a second seizure does occur for a brain activity test called EEG. After this they will put the child on medication until their 6th birthday.

I am not writing this as a medic.Just as a parent trying to help a another parent who is going to go through the same or going through the same. It may sound tough that you have to act and seem like you have no feelings for your child, but the information you relay to the doctor is so crucial to your child’s well being and diagnosis. Trust God to see you through the desperate times, be strong for your child and be there for them when they do not seem to be fathoming what is happening in their tender lives. Perhaps my next big challenge next will be when he goes to school. I am not afraid, it is well in Christ. It always is…

Finally, you will realize I have used the word casualty when describing what you need to do. It is not because they cease to be your child when it happens, but because you must disassociate yourself with the mushy feelings of motherhood, you must choose to act as opposed to weep or scream, you must choose to be sane as opposed to emotional. Mushiness may cloud your judgment. Panic will prevent you from noting what needs to be noted. Detaching yourself may work, if only for that short while when your sanity is so called for.

The 5 must-haves in that baby bag…

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Baby bagOnce a  mama realizes they are expecting, the next big thing is shopping (well, besides the regular check ups by your gynae or hospital clinic nurses). One item usually on top of the list is the baby bag. You have bought the baby bag, baby is here, you need to take baby to clinic, ow, what needs to go to the baby bag., there goes the first panic confusion.

I will highlight a few things that are important to pack in that baby bag, depending on the age of your child.

  1. Baby clothes:- In my short time of parenting, I have learnt that a baby will give you enough oops moments. You will undress the baby for weight checking and well, the freedom gives them a good feeling that they feel its time to relax all the muscles, including bowel and urinary tract ones. And they do it very excitedly, and smile at you afterwards. And he soils all his clothes. Grrrr. Well, no matter how close the clinic is from your house, make sure you pack a change of clothes. Two sets if your child is under six months and a set if he is above. Pack the same if you are going to church, to visit your friend, where baby goes, the sets of change of clothes go. A set for me was a roamper, and a onesie when they were under six, and a trouser, T-shirt and onesie now. When its cold, I add a vest to the set collection. I always carry one jacket, regardless of the weather. Even if you are staying for just one hour. The little angels have a way of surprising you.
  2. Diapers :- My baby is unwell, I take him to hospital and somewhere in the background a mama is asking if the hospital gives diapers. I look closely and she has an 8-10 month baby on her arms and no bag at all. I am not judging, but I want all of us to learn that children poop does not have a schedule and they pick an infection in a blink of an eye. Pack 4-5 diapers if your baby is under six months and 3 afterwards.
  3. Nappy liners:- But why and am not using nappies? Well, because you need something to wipe your baby, yourself and the person sitting next to you if baby spits or pukes. I find them very absorbent and light enough to carry around. Pack 2-3.
  4. Food:- When children are under six months, we worry when we leave them because we pack food (read breast milk) they will consume when they are away. When they are weaned, we worry when we carry them around, because you must have their meal plans in your bag, depending on age. Whatever you schedule for them to eat, pack it, if you have the insulation bags, the better, means food wont get cold. Breast milk is no longer enough and it is not a guarantee that you will be in a position to buy good baby friendly food wherever you are going. Its not much of a hustle, just pack, carry and feed baby when they demand. And yes, no one will chase you at of a restaurant for feeding baby with their packed food. The no food from outside does not apply here.
  5. Baby wrap:- By this, I do not mean toto wrap to carry baby around. I mean, something to cover baby with when they fall asleep. Not necessarily to do that but to place under them when you are changing. Be it a leso or shawl or cot sheet, something that baby can lie on when you are changing or sleep on when they are asleep and u are at your friend’s visiting.

But this is a lot to carry… Yes, it may seem a lot to carry and sometimes I find myself debating if I need all this when I am leaving the house, but I think of the oops moments and it is totally worth the heavy load. You may look like you carried the whole house and you are leaving for just two hours, but I have learnt that two hours for a child can be eternity. Be safe, or face the wrath of the community, when they yell at you. No, that shouldn’t be the reason, but you will be at peace and if the oops moment comes, because they do come,  you will be ready. All in all, we are used to carrying a lot of paraphernalia we don’t need in our hand bags. When baby is here, handbag is AOB, just make sure you have your wallet and hankie. Period.

Article 45 :- Permanent Birth Control- What you need to know about ESSURE

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Micro is not so micro

Micro-insert is not so micro

There are many systems in our human body.  Namely, Integumentary system (Skinhairnailssweat and other exocrine glands); Skeletal system (Bones supporting the body and its organs); Nervous system (Collects and processes information from the senses via nerves and the brain and tells the muscles to contract to cause physical actions); Cardiovascular/Circulatory system (Circulates blood around the body via the heartarteries and veins, delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and cells and carrying their waste products away);Endocrine system (Provides chemical communications within the body using hormones)and; the Muscular system (Enables the body to move using muscles) . That is from Wikipedia. But none of them has been so deliberately tampered with like the female reproductive system in the name of birth control. In a previous article, I have highlighted the carcinogenic effects of the hormonal contraceptives among other general side effects. However, those (contraceptives) have all been classified as temporary since you get into them to avoid pregnancy, and then get off them, and hopefully, you will get pregnant again, and the cycle continues. In the constant search to “treat the reproductive system”, “permanent” methods have been developed. Note; permanent is in quotes, because pregnancies have occurred while on these birth control systems. The main surgical methods listed, according to healthywomen.org, for permanent birth control are tubal ligation and vasectomy. There are also non surgical procedures also called tubal occlusion. This procedure involves inserting a small insert in each fallopian tube. A natural barrier forms around the inserts in about three months, blocking the tubes.  Backup contraception is required until you have your three-month follow-up appointment to ensure the inserts are in place and the fallopian tubes are blocked. That insert is called essure
.

  • What they tell you: – In essure.com they will tell you that Essure is the only permanent birth control you can get with a nonsurgical procedure. It can help you stop worrying about an unplanned pregnancy; that the Essure procedure is usually completed in about 10 minutes and can be performed right in your doctor’s office; that most women return to normal activities within a day or two; that it is non-hormonal; that it is over 99% effective at permanently preventing pregnancy; has been available for over 10 years and is approved by ()FDA; and that is widely used especially in America, Europe and most recently, Australia has started using it and finally that you must continue to use another form of birth control until you receive confirmation from your doctor that the inserts are correctly placed and your tubes are blocked. Only then can you start depending on Essure for birth control. The Essure website also highlights a few complications that may occur which includes puncturing of the fallopian tubes, migration and breakage of the device and chronic pelvic pain.
  • What they don’t tell you:- Essure is a pharmaceutical product and like any other product, it must be marketed at all costs. It is therefore available to teens and any woman who requests for a long term birth control method. The complication with this is that, it is an irreversible process. Once the device is inserted, the only way to remove it is through hysterectomy. According to http://essureproblems.webs.com/essure-removal-information , If Essure is correctly positioned; the coils span the utero tubal junction, and about 3-8 turns of the outer coil trail into the uterus. The devices need to be removed intact, no cutting, or pulling, or stretching. This means that in most situations, the uterus and tubes need to be removed intact to get the devices out complete. There are specialists, who are skilled at removing the devices without breaking them, and leaving your uterus and or tubes, if you desire. But you MUST go to a specialist for this. Leaving fragments of Essure behind is NOT desirable! “Teasing” the coils out of the uterus, in most cases, will leave you with fragments or (Polyethylene terephthalate) PET fibers. Vaginal hysterectomy makes it very difficult to reach the entire tubes, most often part of the tube and coil is left behind. So do not opt for vaginal hysterectomy. So PLEASE, read as MUCH as you can on proper removal. You only get one chance at getting Essure out correctly the first time. Going back for a second or third or fourth surgery to retrieve fragments, or adhesions, is not fun! So a teen walks into a hospital, the device in inserted and at 21 has a full hysterectomy. So much for a non surgical procedure that is rated as reversible. Sad.

EssureWhy are women crying for removal of essure, from their bodies and from the market? Recently Senator David Fitzpatrick -US- took a motion to parliament to have essure banned from the American market. This was brought about by an outcry of over 24000 women who have had the essure device and has made their lives a living hell on earth. The side effects of the device are so many, as listed in the essure problems website and as follows: –

  1. Gynecological: – Cramping, Sharp/Stabbing Pelvic Pain, Abnormal menses, Period stops, Ovarian cysts, Uterine cysts, Fallopian tube cysts, Pregnancy (yes, I have seen several E babies, in their website, testimonies of many women), Bacterial vaginosis, Constant spotting, Discharge (Odor/No Odor), Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Miscarriage, Hot flashes, Cervical Cancer/ Dysplasia, Hydrosalpinx (Fluid in the Fallopian Tubes), Fallopian Tube Fibroids, PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), Cysts at the Vaginal Opening (Bartholin’s Cyst), PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), Uterine Fibroids, Uterine Inflammation, Uterine Infection, Excessive Bleeding During Period (Menorrhagia), Painful Ovulation (Mittelschmerz), Night Sweats, Loss of Libido, Hot Flashes, Bleeding/Spotting After Sex, Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea), Painful Intercourse (Dyspareunia), Bleeding Between Periods (Metrorrhagia), Early Menopause, Incontinence, Long Menstrual Cycles (Polymenorrhea), Sexual Dysfunction (Unable to Orgasm or Feel Pleasure), Lack of Menstrual Cycle (Amenorrhea), Yeast Infections (Candida), Bacterial Vaginosis, Urgent/Frequent Urination, UTI (urinary tract infection), bladder infection, Cervicitis/Vaginitis (Swelling, Inflamation, Infection of  the Cervix or Vagina), Itching, Burning, Stinging, Stabbing of Vaginal Entrance, (Vulvodynia), Breast Pain/Tenderness, Abdominal Spasms/ Twitching/ Fluttering, Pain, Back, joint, chest, leg, breast, neck, spine, hip, Chronic Pelvic Pain, Face pain (Trigrinal Neuralgia)…
  2. Gastrointestinal:- Nausea, vomiting, gas, constipation, diarrhea, Severe bloating, Metallic taste in mouth, Heartburn, Bowel issues…
  3. Neurological:- Mental Health, Headaches or migraines, Dizziness, Tingling sensations, Numbness, Brain shocks, Nerve pain, Brain fog – cloudiness, forgetfulness, Anxiety/Panic Attacks, Mood swings, Seizures Stroke Symptoms, Depression (Sadness/Suicidal Thoughts), Ringing In Ears (Pulsatile Tinnitus), Black Out Spells/ Fainting, Diminished brain function (brain fog, confusion, cloudiness, forgetfulness, short term memory loss), Mood Disorders, PTSD (Post Tramatic Stress Disorder), Numbness in Thigh (Meralgia Parethetica), Numbness/Tingling in Extremeties (Hands/Feet), Sensation of Burning, Stinging, Tickling or Prickling of Skin (Paresthesia), Nerve Pain, Tremors/Shakiness, Dizziness…
  4. Blood Issues:- Anemia/ Iron Deficiency/Low Ferritin, Blood Clots, High Blood Pressure, Vitamin D Deficiency, Unexplained/Easily Bruising, Vitamin B-12 Deficiency, Elevated Blood Counts, Inability to Maintain Blood Sugars (Hypoglycemia), Pulmonary embolism, Autoimmune Disorders like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Myasthenia Gravis…
  5. Allergies/Sensitivities:- Chemical and food sensitivities, Metal Allergies (Nickel), Heightened Allergies/ Allergic Reactions, Food Allergies, Gluten Sensitivity, Allergic reactions, Hives, rashes, Cysts, boils, acne, Skin Irritation/Itching,
  6. Heart Issues:- First Degree Heart Block (Maybe due to the blood clots), Heart palpitations,
  7. Coils/Device Issues:- Perforation of the tubes by the coils, Coil migrations, Coils becoming embedded in other tissues/organs,  Broken and/or missing Coils…
  8. Others:- Swelling of legs or feet, Hair loss or changes, Hair growth in new places, Organs fusing to other organs, Dental issues, Insomnia, Thyroid Disease (Hypothyroid/Hyperthyroid), Degenerative Bone Disease, ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura), Seroma, Gallbladder issues (Gallstones/Removal), Liver Problems, Weight Issues (Loss/ Gain),Adrenal Problems, Sleep Apnea, Adhesions (Scar Tissue in Abdomen), Swollen Glands, Swelling/Numbness in Jaws/Lips, Unexplained Fevers, Swelling of Legs/Feet, Muscle Spasms, Vision Problems (Floaters, Blurred Vision, Decreased Vision), Excessive Sweating, Dry Skin/Hair/Eyes, Severe Bloating, Blood in Urine…
  9. Did I mention that women get pregnant with the device anyway, in spite of it being named as a permanent method of birth control?
  10. And finally, the testimonies of many families breaking due to the pressure imposed on them by the side effects are many. I read daily from the Essure problems face book page. Many will debate this, that family problems have many underlying issues, yes. But maybe, just maybe, the essure is the spark that lights up this fire to the point of no extinguishing the flames…

This many side effects have caused questioning of the clinical trials listed on the website. Further to that the doctors doing the procedures coerce women to have it, and then they denounce the side effects when their patients come to them (marketing aspect).

Why am I writing this? I am not an American and Essure is not yet in Africa. Or is it not? I have never seen anything with so many side effects. I also know that Bayer, the company attributed to manufacture and distribution of Essure has had its activities in Kenya, most recently promoting birth control in universities. I also know that most items banned abroad, usually find a place in our Kenyan markets, for example Depo-Provera, it is only a matter of time before essure lands in Africa with a bang.

Like anything marketed, no one tells you the negative side. Now, we know; do we want to make the same mistakes? I cry for the women who have a part of their body system removed. It is easu to declare that you are E-Free, because the E device has taken you to E-hell and back. I don’t even know how it would make me feel if I had my uterus removed, especially if it is as a result of side effects of some insert. I weep for the children who are diagnosed with cervical cancer at a tender age and have to have their wombs removed to forestall or stop the spread of cancer. I weep for the women who have to have their wombs removed because of essure. I weep because the device is attributed to causing some cancers.  Many tears…

On the other hand, you can have the whole reproductive system, and still be a woman of dreams, be open to life, and postpone pregnancies whenever wherever. Is this treatment to our Reproductive System, subjected to us every day justified? Can we just work with it as opposed to working against it? Life is a choice, and as my father always says, you only have one chance to become whatever you are. You have one chance of being a girl, one chance of being a woman, one chance of being whatever God blesses you to be. Choose to live a happy life, whatever your definition of happiness is.

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