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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.

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Article 47:- The Many faces of Friends

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…A faithful friend is a strong defence,

A faithful friend is the medicine of life…

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The beginning of the climb

23rd September 2017. I joined my friend Eric on his 4th Journey up Mt. Longonot. I had promised myself severally how I needed to do this, my own Bucket List activity off the chart. But then there is this friend who has traveled with me in many journeys of life. He has known my downs and my ups, my frustrations and my achievements, my laughter, my celebrations, the toast moments and the lets keep it under the table moments. Eric. He lost his sight sometime back. Every year, through the Kenya Society of the Blind annual Longonot climb, ever since he lost his sight, he goes up the Longonot. This year, I decided to do this with him, as a thank you for the journeys he has traveled with me. The climb attracted quite a gathering. It was flagged off at the entrance to the park and up we went, a step at a time, one meter after another. As much as it was a check off my bucket list, it was a great learning experience especially on friendships. I learnt, on that climb that friendships presents itself in many faces. I will just highlight a few…

The fall back:-

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TEAM ERIC!

The climbers were from several representations. We called ourselves TEAM ERIC. It was a group of Eric, his parents, his neighbour, a gentleman nicknamed Governor, Muthenya and myself. When we started the climb, everyone was all energetic. We had a pacesetter, and the rest of us trooped behind him or her. But as we went up, the energy levels went low. By the time we got to rest post 1, Eric was a bit dizzy. We all took a break. Muthenya snacked all of us. We took out water. And we waited for Eric to get better. How many times do we feel drained in this life we keep walking? How many of us can always look out for that one person who will be there for us at such low moments, when we know that no  matter our lows, someone will stand and wait for us to rethink, refocus, gain back the energy. Someone will give us that boost of energy. That word that will let us know, it is okay to feel weak, it is okay when we don’t have the energy to move on, it is okay to take a break, it is okay to be weak, it is okay to need a shoulder to lean on. All this is a phase of life. And it will pass. We will not be weak forever, we will rise and conquer the rest of the mountain.

The bounce back/motivator:-

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Crater Point

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After the rest, we continued our climb. We got to the first summit-Crater point. Here one can appreciate the distance traveled. You can see base down below. You can see the crater. Very beautiful. There is a group of people taking rest after the torturous climb. Some who arrived way earlier have already started their descent, others have started going round the crater. We take a breather, a few photos. Then we have to decide whether we are going round or not. Eric’s parents decide not to. Muthenya and Governor are already decided, they are going round. The set off. Eric is undecided. It’s a whole 7.2Km walk. I challenge him. He hesitates. Eventually he falls for the temptation. We set off too. We call the other two to wait up. Another climb to summit 2 begins, Team Eric now a smaller group. Off we go, one step at a time. It is more challenging than the firs climb, but eventually, after a little crawling and falling, a little slipping and trudging, silence and small talks, we get to KILELE NGAMIA. Wohoo! We all need that friend to challenge us to the next level. That friend who realizes our potential even when we don’t know we have it. That person who reminds us that our limit is only our own selves. We can finish the climb together. We shall travel it together. When you lack the energy, you can lean on me, but climbing we must. I remembered the many climbers we passed on. Literally holding on to others to take the next height, the “keep on going” voices behind them, those who gave up but with their team members were kept on their feet. Who with all this motivation got to the top, whichever summit.

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The energy sucker:-

While the motivator challenges us to achieve new heights, this one is the exact opposite. This friends will drain all the energy left in you. Whatever little. They will tell you how much you cannot make in life. How much you don’t have the energy to finish. How untalented you are, how unfit, how feeble, how much a loser you are. I do not know if they are friends or “friends”. Whichever the case, they have a way of making life all doom and gloom. I may not have a perfect example from the climb, but it occurred to me that there are those who probably did not make it to the top because of that voice. Sometimes this voice is our own selves. We tell our selves how much we have not exercised, so we cannot finish the climb. How much unprepared we are for the interview, how many people have failed in life and it won’t be no different, how hard the task is and it should be performed by someone better than ourselves. We kill our own innovation, we drain our own strength. We kill our own self-belief.

The advocate:-

I have learnt that when something happens to us, there are those friends who will be called to answer on our behalf. It is good to have them because they know the real us. They can always speak on our behalf. They can say when we are afraid, they can say when we are being foolish, they can tell when we are falling off the road and going in a tangent of our desired positions. They are the other us. They are our voice when we have none. They can loudly tell one who is trying to make us look bad, “Whatever you say, I dont believe you, because I know her…”. They know that when we fall, we can count on them to lift us up and not laugh and jeer when everyone else is. They know that when my feet refuse o move that one step, its probably because I have a boil in the thigh or a blister on my toe. They don’t judge, they want to know the reason why. They can even explain that why we we do not have the reason.

The twin:-

One thing that has stayed in my mind is this group of two boys, both visually impaired, they passed us in the ascend to the first summit, stumbling, trudging but holding each other up. I think one was partially blind or both were, I do not know, but the determination in their faces and the arms they kept around each other spoke volumes. They passed us the second time just before we got to the second summit. When they did, we cheered them on. They really inspired me. There are those friends who literally walk with us in this wake of life. They stumble when we stumble, they rise when we rise, they laugh with us, they cry with us, they celebrate with us, and they struggle with us in our daily endeavors. They do not necessarily do what we do, they are not necessarily present, but they share in our every moments.

While we all know that faithful friends are hard to come by, while we also appreciate that some friends are multi faced in our lives, we live to thank God because, we have a defense to always lean on, depend on, look up to, and are always nourished in by their presence. A faithful friend is the medicine for life.

What to consider when going to meet someone you do not know so well…

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I walked into a coffee house yesterday with a friend. It was in the evening and there were several people in enjoying their drinks of choice. We sat in the table next to a gentle man and a lady. They were an arms-reach from our table. We ordered. We get engrossed into our discussion. After a while, the lady walks out. For a toilet break I think. She leaves her handbag on the table. Nothing unusual. After a short while, the guy stands and walks out. He leaves the handbag on the table. That is very unusual. It is a non written rule in my head that if I am having a meal or drink, I need to watch the belongings of my companion if they take a toilet break. I shouldn’t take a break when she or he is still away. unless there is a third part. The rule applies to the party too. Or I guessed. Wrong. especially for the scene unfolding. I tell my companion. It is strange that the guy walked out and left the ladies handbag. My statement was more suggestive though, I used the word girlfriend. My companion tells me the guy unzipped the handbag and picked a phone, stood and left. It shouldn’t ring a bell still. In any case,once in a while my husband tells me to put his wallet and phone in my bag, right? Wrong. The waitress comes and puts reserved notice on the table. The ladies handbag is still there. The lady comes back. Runs into the waitress and asks, where the guy went to. She says he just walked down. But little did we know he was not coming back. She comes and sits. Goes through her bag, then she casts a look across and asks if the guy took her phone. My companion answers yes. Then she goes, “Oh My God”.

Of course we inform the management (through the waitress). The waitress says there are many such cases. She also says the guy frequents there. Maybe with fresh bait every time. This brought back memories of what I used to be told when I was growing up on precautions to take. I am going to share a few tips I gathered a long the way in my journey of life:-

I do not drink alcohol, and probably one of the reasons why was for my own safety. Drinking to some extent reduces the rational capacity of a person. The level of loss is different. Others need only one glass of one, others need a whole crate of beer. I have never wanted to test my limits. Some say that you limit your alcohol consumption. I have learnt that , sometimes in some company this rule does not work. If it is a group outing, it is always easy to volunteer to be the designated driver, or the cab advisor when everyone else has since stopped being themselves. In the least you will ensure everyone is home safe and sound.

One of the safety tips I remember my brother ever mentioning to me way before I joined college was when you are having a drink with anyone, if you need to pee, finish your drink first. If you had not, order a fresh one when you get back. It may look unusual to those who you will be with but just in case your drink was spiked, you will be okay. This does not only apply to alcohol, but also to the teas, coffees we do with friends, prospective clients or customers, and even strangers on blind dates.

It is good to let someone know where you are. It is also good to let this person know at least one person you are with. We may assume we are in control of things, but stuff happens. Picture a guy who goes out for a drink with friends. He drinks later than them. His drink is spiked. He goes Missing in Action (MIA). Or those thieves who unleashes things that you breath and pass out. When someone has been keeping track of your movements it would be easy for them to, in the least know where to start looking for you or who was last with you and what happened when you parted ways. It may be strange but I try my level minimum to always let my spouse know where I am, who I am meeting, where. Even when he is not around, I still let him know.

It is also good to have at least one contact off head. This is where the back up phone mentioned in My Accident… My Lessons makes sense. This will make sure that when tragedy happens to you, even if your phone is dead or has been stolen and you cannot access your contacts list, you can contact one person, hopefully this person is the same as the one you had told where you are.

I also remember a friend of mine telling me never go out without extra cash, enough to cater for your food and drinks just in case the person you are meeting bails out on the bill. Make sure you also have enough money to get you home. This may come in handy when group outings go in a direction you did not anticipate and you need to flee them. You may not have to tell them you are leaving. Excusing yourself for a pee will give you time to walk out on company you do not want to be in discreetly.

In addition to all these, ladies, carry your handbag to wherever you are going in case you are taking a break from the company you are with. Unless that person is your spouse or fiance or your really bestest of friends.  In the least this should apply. If you go to the loo, go with it, if you want to go to the counter for an extra order, please don’t leave it, if you want to walk across the room and say hi to a long lost friend who just walked into the restaurant, that bag is not so heavy, pick it, walk with it. A lady,s bag has everything, from her friends spare keys to her identification documents. If that bag goes MIA can you survive a week without its contents? If not, please make it a part of you.

other advise gathered online include googling the person you are meeting, pepper spay, meeting is busy places, watch for disturbing behaviors and if your instincts say run, then just run.

I asked the girl if she knew the guy well. She she knew him but not so much. I hope in the least she gets her phone back. I also appreciate the restaurants that have CCTV, though I highly doubt they assist much. Maybe another caution should be to sit within camera range. Either way, hopefully this can stop someone from getting into the same pit.

 

My Accident… My Lessons

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imagesThe date is 5th September. I am driving a long Nairobi Nakuru Highway. Am am almost at the Gilgil weigh bridge. I am anticipating traffic. There is almost always traffic here. It is getting to 9am. The highway is not so busy though. But then again, it is a Tuesday, it is not those days everyone is rushing to the village or rushing back to the CBD to live yet another week of the activities of 5am to 8pm in a bid to put bread on the table. Besides the usual once in a while crazy trucks speeding past, it is slow. I am the last in a queue of about five vehicles. 60KPH is my speed. Then suddenly, the slow night gets crazy as a speeding truck hits my car, at the rear, near the wheel. My wheel goes poof, I swerve into the truck, minimal impact, I was driving slowly anyway, but the impact still sends me off the road, I loose balance, try to steady the car, I veer across the road, finally when I could remember where my breaks were I stop the car. Breathe in and Out. I shout, everyone Ok? Passenger 1 next to me, yes; Passenger 2 at the back, yes. We are all good. The truck is long gone. I can only see the tail lights vanishing into the darkness. I exit the car, check the impact, one totally damaged wheel, and one flat tyre (reparablle. It lost the valve during the impact). We are going nowhere. The rule of the road says only one spare tyre. I have damaged 2. What to do? I Call my brother. He gives instructions. Call my husband, this calms me a bit. Now I can get into action. Passenger 1 gets help from her brothers. My brother assists me in getting the cops. Cops come and confirm accident, record damage. I call the insurance guy and he instructs me on what I need to do. No intervention to the damages if possible he says. And get police abstract. The brothers take the flat tyre for repair (We need to get out of these woods), someone (the only driver who stopped to see what kind of help we probably needed) said there were rhinos around. The tyre is repaired and we fix them. We test the car. It is still going nowhere. The damaged rear axle is making the car skid. We need to tow the car. The brothers assist us in getting tow services. Finally, the car, my two passengers and I are brought to Nairobi aboard the tow truck. Its 3am. We arrive in Nairobi. We drop the car at the insurance inspection centre. Some guards on patrol offer us a ride (paid) to Passenger 1s home. We dropped Passenger 2 in Kinoo. They can’t drop me home they need to get to work. Its 5am though so I get dropped off at a bus stop. I take a matatu home. Its 6am. I finally get home. Safe. Tired but safe. Glory be to God. I need to get back to the police station to collect the abstract, but first I need some sleep.

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This could be a story of any accident victim on our roads. The stories change from person to person. The essence of this is not for the story itself but my lessons from my long night.

 

  1. Strive to be good Samaritans: – I know that our roads have rogues and cons and helping a stranded motorist, especially at night, is unimaginable. I don’t even know if I can stop to assist a stranded motorist or passenger now, especially in those places that chain messages always point out. But I know that there are good Samaritans out there. The truck driver who saw us by the road side and stopped, I don’t know him, but he stopped. It’s just that what we needed was beyond him. There are those who saw us veering off the road, crossing the road and stopping. They drove on. I don’t blame them. I probably would have done the same. I pray that the scary stories of cons will not deter us from doing good when those one in a million instances comes.
  2. Kindness abounds: – The two gentlemen who helped us that night, I owe them a lot. The insurance guy stayed awake with us. He picked my calls even at 4am. I pick my calls very selectively after 6pm. But he did. He did not owe me anything. His job did not require him to do that. But out of the goodness of his heart he did it. I cannot pay them back the kindness. At least not to them. Maybe someone else will benefit in the payback. May we strive to be kind.
  3. God watches over His children: – I drove to wherever I was going alone. But on my way back I had two passengers. I had company that night. I was not alone. It is because of them that the car could be repaired. It is because of them I could brave the night with the imaginary rhinos. It is because of them that I was probably brave to keep acting. I did not have control of many things that night, but God brought made sure we were safe. A lot could have happened (the mind gets creative here), but God was in control
  4. Always have a backup phone:- There are many things that are put in survival manuals. Matchboxes, pocket knives, blankets, flashlight, flares among others. Add to that list a backup phone. A phone that can take night pictures, even bad ones, but has good battery life. Smart phones die very fast. Mine had died an hour earlier. A mid the confusion I had forgotten about it, but it came in handy.
  5. Forget the incident, remember the lessons: – It is traumatizing to go through some stuff. Especially ones that allow your mind to wander. Get traumatized. Cry. Scream. Get frustrated. Yell at someone. Sigh. But after all the emotions, let your mind derive lessons from the experiences that are life. In the long run, life is a series of events. What hurts is the stories we attach to those events. Hurt a bit, but learn from the events. And let those events make you a braver happier person. Find a reason to be thankful. There are always reasons to be grateful. May it rain, we cannot stop that from happening, but may we never forget to sing and dance in the rain.
  6. If tomorrow Never Comes:- We all have heard of the best regrets one makes on their death bed. You forget to live when you are alive. You forget to live because someone hurt you five years ago. You forget to live because you are afraid of the consequences of your decisions today. You forget to live because you are afraid of what people say. You just survive, because you are living fear. You have one life. Live it well. Live it in the best possible way you know how. Live it to fulfill the person you  are. Live it to the purpose you were created. discover that purpose and live life. If tomorrow never comes, then there will be no regrets because you lived to the best of your capacity, you did the best you could in what was entitled to you, you lived a purposeful life, but more so you were happy and you were not afraid.

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).

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