How shall we pray?


The ground shifting uneasily

The weight it carries too heavy

News that breaks the heart

Shatters the soul

Kills what’s left life

A life sniffed out too soon

A bad habit

Creepily and eerily intertwining itself

As a tare among the wheat.

The end of the road

Termination letters

Divorce papers

Diagnoses so severe

That they cannot be named

Lest they rise like the legion

Seize and shake up the world

How do we pray, dear Lord?


The fool says that there is no God in his

But the wise know where words fail

Where chaos convene

Whirlwinds growing in fierceness and fury

Was it the fury of what life became

That stole the prayer out of our hearts?

Did the patter of the army outside

Carry our praise

Was it praise unto you  in the first place

Or perhaps, praise for a deity

We thought we knew

How shall we pray, dear Lord?


For we do not know how to pray

So pray for us and in us

When the adversity sweeps the memory of your goodness

When your hand seems distant

And your heart seems cold

Give us the words too deep that we cannot understand

When our understanding fails

Teach us how to pray, dear Lord.



“Do not eat that.”

“You will fall off that seat.”

“Wait. Stop. Slow down. “

On a typical day, I spend time trying to keep my daughter from harm. I should probably say perceived harm because in my daughter’s world, there are no harmful things. The peels from the carrots look like disease causing agents to me. In my daughter’s eyes, they are a delight. They taste better than the carrots that I have been trying to forcefully feed her for months. The phone tastes better milk. She has tried to get into the oven at some point. Taking my eyes off her for a second can be disastrous. It is near impossible to have my eyes on her at all times so she has bumped her head a couple of times and slammed the door over her fragile fingers.

In my daughter’s world, the warnings sound like a voice from another world. They get drowned by the goo-gaa-gaa sounds she makes as hastily walks towards the next phase of trouble making. I get frustrated and impatient. I wonder why she does not understand that she might hurt herself. I know the older mothers will remind me to savour the moments but there is nothing savoury about a toddler who is always looking for an opportunity to tease at danger in the face. Add that to the tiredness that comes after a long day and the constant worry that comes with being a mother, you have the perfect recipe for an endless chase.

I think about the number of times my own mother keeps reminding me of what to do. I am a grown up with a household to run but my mother has not stopped mothering me. She calls often to check up on me, worries if I have lost too much weight, the amount of food in my plate and crime reports in the city center. I get offended by her remarks at times. It’s only a matter of time before my daughter starts wondering whether we are really related considering I am way off the “litness” meter. I am choosing to postpone my worries about that phase for now. The recognition that I am becoming my mother or that I am my  mother concerns me more. In this era of wokeness and enlightenment, questions abound about how my daughter will turn out in light of this realization:

Will I damage her capacity to take risks by constantly looking out for her?

Will I recognize her need for a “push” off the cliff?

Am I framing my warnings in a manner that cautions her instead of scaring her?

An article on parenting that I came across on confirms my fears. According to its author, today’s parents do not let their children experience risks. She cites findings from a study in Europe which says that children who do not take risks as children develop phobias as adults. My doubts and fears are compounded by the fact that every week, there is parenting blog on my timeline, generously sharing tips on how to do this and that. From the advice I have come across so far, there is a better way to communicate with your child, a foolproof method for raising grounded children and a perfect method for preparing your children for success.

I have had several communication breakdowns with my daughter in spite of trying out the tried and tested methods. I do not know what it means to be grounded so I am still figuring out how to make my daughter become something I may have failed to become (wish me luck with that one). Success is the least of our concerns for now. I just need to keep my daughter away from electricity, fire, water, wires and any other thing she considers a potential toy. In essence, my experiment in parenting is failing in many ways if it was measured against the plethora of advice that is out here. The only thing I am certain about is that I am my mother. My mother is not the world’s best mother because I did not have the benefit of having been mothered by any other mother.

My mother is simply my mother. She is witty, generous to a fault, cautious, humorous, cares deeply, loud and amicable. My mother is also deeply flawed just I am. We are not supposed to say that out loud in my culture or even think it but it needs to be said. What scares me about becoming my mother is that I have somehow bought the illusion that there is a better version of me out there. In my delusion, I have believed that if I apply this technique, read this book, take these steps, then I will emerge first in a race that no one is keeping tabs on. I am not dismissing the wise and wonderful words of wisdom out here on parenting. I am careful not to believe that the ultimate goal in parenting is getting it right.

I am learning to focus on an identity that is not pegged on the wonderful reviews I get as a parent but on an identity that is more lasting and true. God calls me His own, clothes me with His righteousness and considers me good on account of His good and complete work in me. His faithfulness as a father is not measured against the milestones I make. It’s offered freely for the rest of eternity. I cannot be the perfect parent to my daughter. At best, I am my mother. That does not make me a failure or success. It makes me human, fully accepted and loved by God.

Give me a sign

I wanted a sign from you

The sea parting right before me

The sun standing still

A chariot of fire with all that I asked for

Bread multiplied in baskets

Desperation gnawing in my bones

Stifled cries for help through the night

I anxiously paced as they said

That weeping may tarry for the night

Joy comes in the morning

The morning came sans the joy

It washed up its chaos

To the shores of today

A broken heart

Shattered dreams

Tears for the miracle I wanted

I wanted a sign

That they that wait for the Lord

Shall renew their strength

As my flailing heart caved in despair

I wanted to thank You for the miracle of life

I cursed and cried

“Don’t you care that I am dying?”

I wanted for a lifeboat

You gave me life

I wanted the seas to part

You showed me its mysteries and monsters

I wanted a chariot of fire laden with my heart’s desires

You purged my heart with fire

Refined it like a fine piece of silver

I wanted bread in abundance

You, the bread of life, said you were enough.



Will He find me faithful?


Its 43 days into the New Year although it feels old. We do not say Happy New year past the first week of the year. Somehow, we are all expected to get over the newness and bury our heads deep into the business of living, working and enjoying the year. The year never gets old if you are looking for new ways of seeing each day. So far, I have failed and faltered in my resolutions but even more importantly, I have learnt to lean on the grace of God to stand up and start all over again. Each day is an opportunity to be grateful in action by embracing what is ahead of me. I have mountains to climb but I am no longer standing in awe of the peak. Like a skilled mountaineer, I am aware of the difference a step can make in the journey. I take those steps knowing they do not seem like much. Sometimes, I am weary and in need of an undeserved break. I get distracted easily and follow the wrong path. The more I learn about the voice of Truth, the more I realize that recognizing the gentle, relentless nudges is about saying Yes to his voice consistently.

One of my resolutions this year is to be faithful wherever I am. For years, I have believed the lie that I will be faithful when it matters. I have repeatedly told myself that I will be faithful once I land in that office, get to that position, move to that neighborhood or attain a certain weight. Over time, that attitude has made me blind to the numerous ways God has been faithful to me in giving me opportunities. Procrastination, laziness and ungratefulness have become deeply entrenched in my heart as a result of this.

The parable of the talents stirs me up to see these overgrown weeds in my heart. Matthew 25:14-26 speaks of the three servants who were entrusted with their master’s wealth. The servant who got five talents invested it and got five more. The one with two talents got two more out of his investment of the talents. The one who got one talent had nothing to show except what he had been given initially. His conversation with his master illuminates the heart of unfaithfulness:

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’(Matthew25:24)

 The servant says that he was afraid so he hid the talent. Fear easily breeds unfaithfulness because it keeps us focused on the wrong thing. We become unfaithful in tending to our spouses because we are afraid of the vulnerability that comes with it. We easily become unfaithful in our jobs because we are afraid of what our colleagues will think of us. We are afraid of being given more responsibilities because we want to get comfortable in our current positions. We become unfaithful in tending to our environment because we are afraid of standing up for the right thing. Fear is the ground upon which unfaithfulness grows and produces fruit namely ungratefulness, impatience and slothfulness. The Bible says that the perfect love of God casts out all fear. Love as we know bears fruit that abides namely good works, patience, endurance, kindness and goodness.

The servant went ahead and acted out of his fear. He dug the ground and hid the one talent he had. It is easier to dig and hide what God has entrusted us with rather continuously find ways to be multiply it. Faithfulness requires hard work. It stretches your character, confronts weary mindsets and exposes the lies that the accuser has made you think are true. Unfaithfulness takes also a significant amount of work. The servant had to dig and hide his talent so that he can take a break as his fellow servants broke their backs.

It is easily to believe that having more resources at your disposal will make you faithful. This defies the heart of a God who came as a man, limited to a certain geographical location and was subject to the changes in weather, political upheavals and time. Jesus did not wait for his disciples to be as many as grains of sand for him to sow the seed of the word. He did not fail to heal the paralytic or raise the dead because he was waiting to heal the whole world. Instead, as the bible records, he did good wherever we went. Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit borne out of saying yes to his voice and saying No to the lies that keep us focused on what we do not have. Faithfulness is the quiet routine of praying, waiting and acting as the Spirit fills us up. It is persistent and patient, always seeking ways to make the most of what is in your hand. It does not wait for the big things to happen, rather it invests small for the glory of big God who multiplies in his own ways.

Are you being faithful where you are?

In what areas of your life do you struggle to be faithful?




Sunday morning

man on the pew

Sunday morning on the pew

The traces of last night’s brew gone and hidden

The right colour code for the children and hubby

Smiles against a backdrop of Sunday bests

Do they see me?

Do they love me?

The untuned keyboard signals the call for prayer

A prayer for the nation, the continent

A prayer for matters petty and matters pertinent

In the five minute segment

Where the woman in the corner out talks the entire room

The man in blue jeans and a cheap cap

Can’t hide his disgust

There are tongues of men

And tongues from angels

There are psalms of praise

Psalms of lament conspicuously missing

We are all blessed and highly favored

Lives flavoured by seed planted in the newest project

Am I worthy?

Would I matter if they knew me?

Last week was hard on the pocket and the heart

Too much month at the end of the money

Petty fights, giant wounds

Fierce preferences finding space in the room

Bigger problems than the proverbial elephant in the room

Sleepless nights, sobbing eyes

Smiles and the bustle of the day’s activities

Carefully burying the damaging proclivities

Tempers unchecked

Appetites undisciplined

Fears unknown and untold

Do you feel me?

Will you pray for me?

We are friends with the deacon and his wife

“How are you? he asks

The mind wrestles with the mouth

Shall I share my heart’s struggles

Or tow the script?

Shall we start with yesterday’s troubles

Or today’s worries?

Does he want to know

Or does his job demand that he asks?

What to do, what to say?

Search my heart, O Lord

And see if there is any deceit?

The mind wins the battle

The mouth says what it must say

The heart sinks into the weights of the week

Weak, worried and weary

We hurry on to the car

Drive through the light Sunday traffic

The sun struggles to peer through the clouds

We struggle to catch its rays

Its light and its  warmth.




The peculiarity of poverty in church

My head is buried deep in my book. I am sitting in the back seat of a matatu that belongs to the museum. The daily “offerings” to the local traffic police have ensured that the matatu continues to grow ancient while making money for the owner. The seats have patches of faux leather. The spongy bits of the seats are peeking through the patches. The windows can barely open. The temperatures on this fine evening can bake a cake. There are four of us in the back seat. The latest addition does not understand that we live in a share economy. He takes up more space than he should, earning irate looks from all of us. We endure the discomfort of our ride as we swerve from left to right on the potholed road. I am reading a book titled “Why Africa is Poor” by Greg Mills. I am struggling to imagine that perhaps, my country is an exception. May be we have a unique set of problems or there is so much that is working against us. The more I delve into the book, the more I realize that there is nothing new under the sun.

I notice him out of the corner of my eye. He shifts uneasily and moves closer to me after one of the passengers alights. He has a neat moustache, the kind that makes you wary given the recent reports about suave looking armed robbers. I zip up my bag and pretend that I am deeply engrossed in my book. My eyes are as alert as an eagle’s eyes. I can almost feel his eye lashes twitch. I do not want to miss any of his movements considering he might be one of “them”. He notices my uneasiness and shifts, perhaps, in an attempt to distract me. I am flipping a page in my book when I notice that he is trying to keep up. He wants to read my book. Our eyes meet as I turn the page once again in an attempt to throw him off balance. He mumbles a quick hi. I hesitate before responding. Blame that on the news. There is enough bad news in this city. The speed with which it gets to you makes its effect more pronounced. I decide not to respond and continue flipping through my book. I can see my stop a few meters away. I start preparing myself so that I can alight. Just before I stand up, he touches my hand lightly and gets my attention.

“Could you please give me thirty shillings? “He says. There is a look of sincerity in his eyes. For the first time, I notice the nimbleness of his youth. He is probably in his early twenties. His voice is trembling as he asks. My immediate answer is no. The matatu grinds to a halt. I am at my bus stop. He pleads for my help. I rummage through my purse in order to convince him that I do not have any money. A part of me is offended because he asked. I want to interrogate his motives.

I want to lash out at him for asking. I do not get a chance to do that because the matatu driver is in a hurry. The other passengers are grumbling because I have taken too long to alight from the vehicle.

The next day, I read an article about how we treat the poor in Kenya. Larry Madowo wrote this in his weekly column, Frontrow:

“When you’re poor in this country, even your own lived experiences are open to scrutiny and revision so that they don’t offend the important people at the top.

Why can’t you just be grateful that you had a place to have your baby at a price you could afford and ignore all the “minor” inconveniences that came with it?”

This was in the context of a poorly and hastily constructed response to allegations of the rape of new mothers at Kenyatta National Hospital by the hospital’s chief executive. I wanted to lynch the chief executive when I heard her response but something stopped me in my tracks. If you have been a member of any church for as long as I have been one, then you may have made the following observations, particularly in the modern church:

  • Talk about the poor is limited to seasons especially Christmas. In case you thought Santa Claus lives in the mall, welcome to church. It is the home of Santa.
  • The poor are those people out there. We do not know their names, their addresses or their families
  • A lot of time is dedicated to giving towards this and that project. These projects mostly benefit the church and leave out the poor
  • Tithing is an essential part of sermons about giving. There are few, if any sermons, as to what part of the church’s income goes towards the poor.
  • In prosperity laden speak, poverty is the ULTIMATE You can be greedy, envious, idolatrous or vain in your ambition but please, don’t be poor.
  • Jesus died for the poor but they definitely must do something about it. Buy this book, follow these steps and make poverty a thing of the past.


I make these observations while fully aware that there is a lot of good that has been done by the church. I know many well-meaning churches that have gone out of their way to put children through schools, build hospitals and offset medical bills but I am also painfully aware of the ways in which the poor can be forgotten in church. If the story above says anything about me, it says that I am complacent in forgetting that when Jesus Christ said that we will always have the poor among us, he was not just talking about poverty in a certain geographical location. He wasn’t being fatalistic either, he was simply reminding us that this broken world we live in will always have glaring reminders of its brokenness.

At the height of the election mania, I remember hearing a lot of talk about Kenya being a Christian nation. Some went as far as finding the hitherto unknown meaning of the word Kenya in Hebrew and reminding anyone who cared to listen that they had to vote a certain way. What was conspicuously missing from that discussion was that the first time the word Christian was used, it was not used as an adjective attached to the purposes of the empire. It was a noun that was used to describe a small faithful group that overturned market principles through their generosity. While the empire’s economic principles dictated that they had to amass wealth, they gave it away. They took care of their own when they were sick and went out their way to take care of the outsiders. They shared their meals and worked hard to finance the advancement of the kingdom. The early church was not an ideal community but there was room for the least among them.

I worry that in an attempt to bring an end to the financial troubles that many have to contend with in this nation using scriptural principles, we have lost the language of the gospel that is cognizant of the poor. In an attempt to remain relevant, we have diminished the power of grace over sin and made poverty the unpardonable sin.  It must be cast out, prayed and fasted over then treated with a healthy dose of principles prescribed by your favourite get-wealthy-now preacher. The poor must prove their existence to earn our help. They are an invisible lot who occasionally get the bread crumbs from our tables. We talk about loving our neighbours but we do not know our neighbours if they do not fit into a certain economic status. We waste food in our homes yet we sit next to underfed men and women in the pews the next morning. We lack the language to speak to them so it comes as surprise that our nation is continually making it difficult to speak for them.

I see the log in my own eyes in this area.  I am a married woman who is blessed to have an education, a job and a second income. I do not fully understand the struggles of a man whose education is wasting away as he walks from one closed door to another. I cannot pretend to be cognizant of what it means to have the landlord on your neck, an empty stomach and five children to feed. I have heard many justify the ill treatment of the poor by saying that they are a lazy, entitled lot. To say that without spending an hour in their shoes is to speak out of pride. It is to forget that God loved the world so he became a part. God entered the world as a naked, fragile baby, born to a poor, young girl and clueless dad who was a carpenter. Loving without listening is self-seeking exercise. Loving borne out of listening and sharing in the experiences of others mirrors the love Christ shared with the world.

If the end of political charged season should teach us anything, it should teach us that having one of our “own” in a political office can never make this nation Christian. The more I observe the political games, the more I realize the way of the empire can never be tied to the way of the cross. I do not know what a Christian nation looks but I get an idea from what the principles enshrined in the Law of Moses. These principles directly touched on the welfare of the poor. God commanded the Israelites to do the following for the poor:

  • Farmers were not supposed to pick all the grain from their fields so that the poor could come and glean ( refer to the story of Ruth)
  • Every seven years, creditors had to forgive their neighbor’s of their debts
  • Tithes were collected to make provisions for the widows, immigrants and the Levites.

I fear that in an attempt to “baptize” our country, we often forget that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbours. In our zeal to get everyone to toe our line, we have neglected the numerous opportunities to tend to those whom God has asked us to tend to: the widows, the orphans, the strangers and the prisoners. As we demand that a government does a better job of putting in place policies that are pro-poor, I pray we will be known for walking the talk. I know where my sin lies when it comes to taking care of the poor. Do you?




  2. 1 John 3:17
  3. I Timothy 6:17
  4. Isaiah 58:6-10
  5. Proverbs 14:31

NB: The list of Bible verses that speaks about taking care of the poor is endless. You can do a study on this topic for more insight.






What I almost missed today


My day began at 3 am today with a trip to the emergency room. Our daughter was burning up and all attempts to get the fever down had been fruitless up to that point. The ER was a ghost town except for the dedicated medical staff who had to deal with frantic parents and fussy children. There is a mother who is fighting tears. Her tiny champ is screaming his lungs out. You could almost touch the exasperation in her voice as she tells the triage nurse that she has tried everything to get her little to sleep. The nurse scribbles some notes as she continues asking questions.

“Has he breastfed?”

“Have you tried giving him Gripe water?”

“What about this and that?”

The list goes on and on. My daughter is still burning up but the extrovert in her is glad that we have a late night outing. She wants to touch everything on the nurse’s desk. My germ phobic hands   work extra hard to keep her hands away from the germ laden nurse station. We answer our fair share of questions then wait for our turn to see the doctor. After a brief medical examination and a prescription, we head home with a sigh of relief. It is nothing to worry about but we still have to keep an eye on the fever.

I collapse into my bed as soon as I get home. I keep checking on her every couple of minutes.  My daughter is completely oblivious of my worry as she eases into deep slumber. She knows she will be okay. I want her to be okay now. I want the fever gone in an instant so that I can have my bubbly girl back. We wake a few hours later to the piercing rays of the sun shining through the window. I struggle to see the beauty of this day as I groggily crawl out of bed.

God’s goodness still abounds in the morning in spite of the whirlwinds of yester night.  It takes a tantrum to bask in the goodness of the morning. My little girl wants to see the sun in all its glory. She gives me half a smile as we stare at the sky under the shade of an avocado tree. I have been thinking about the New Year of late. We always assume that when the calendar is flipped, everything will flip. The chaos of yester year will somehow be realigned into neat, recognizable rows. The struggles, the pains, the agony and the anguish of waiting and worrying will automatically give rise to a new lease of life. More often than not, this does not happen. Things spin out of control in spite of our best efforts to control them. We find ourselves dealing with unforeseen circumstances.

Genesis 1:2 speaks of the spirit of God hovering over a formless earth. The God of all flesh inhabited the emptiness, the darkness and the formlessness of the earth. I found myself meditating on this today as I sulked my way through my worry. God does not remain detached from the chaos as deists would like us to believe nor does he create maliciously create the chaos. Instead, he hovers over them, watching out for us, ensuring that not a hair that falls out of our heads goes unnoticed. He is the untamed wind that reassures us that this too shall pass. He is God who orders our steps as the chaos threaten to uproot us from His love. He is the friend who puts his arm around us when words fail to comfort us.

Genesis 1:3 speaks of God’s first order of business. He created the Light through his word. The writers of the book of Genesis do not tell us how much time elapsed between his actions in verse 2 and his actions in verse 3. Could it have been a thousand years or million years? Did it take a day which is like a thousand years to him? If I knew and understood these things, would it be easier to trust him as I wade through my own formless world? Would it be easier for you to trust him as you walk through your own empty and dark world?