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Tag Archives: Marriage


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I don’t know what to write about this morning, but I have 30 minutes of writing before me so I need to come up with something :).  I guess I should write about Benji!

Benji (Benjamin Baraka) lives up to his name.  When we found out that I was pregnant, I was pretty sure we would have a girl.  I already had a beautiful girl’s name all picked out and we began praying for our baby by name.  I even started knitting some little booties (pink of course) and sweaters.  With our doctor, we had an ultrasound every visit, which was just wonderful.  For some reason we delayed going for the checkup where we would find out the gender so I was past 20 weeks be the time the doctor informed us, “it’s a baby boy…you can see here…”  I remember leaving the hospital thinking, “ok, we need a new name!”  Even though I was planning for a girl, finding out we were expecting a boy wasn’t really a big deal…just we didn’t have a name.  We thought about it and talked about it, but didn’t come up with anything.  The one name we both liked, one of our friends had recently named their son and when we did some research we didn’t really like the meaning.  We  agreed that we preferred a Bible name and wanted something with a strong meaning.  But still no name.

Finally, at church a few weeks later,  a number of people asked what his name was going to be and we kept trying to avoid the question.  When we got home from church, we agreed it was time to come up with a name for this baby.  We sat in our plastic chairs, at our little table (we were a bit short on furniture at the time) and started discussing names.  In addition to our qualifications, I also wanted a name with nice nicknames – Billy has about 10 nicknames and I have none :).  We discussed a variety of names.  We were really being drawn to Old Testament names.  We considered Caleb and Levi and a variety of other names.  Finally one of us brought up Reuben, and liked the fact that it could be shortened to Ben.  Then we looked up the meaning and didn’t quite feel it (I can’t currently remember the meaning).  Then almost at the same time we said, what about Benjamin, that can also be shortened to Ben.  So we looked up the meaning.  In Hebrew, Benjamin means the son of my right hand.  Then we dug a little further.  The tribe of Benjamin was the warrior tribe of Israel, they were known to be taller, stronger and many times more handsome than the rest of the Israelite men.  Almost all the things we could discover about the tribe of Benjamin were positive.  So we agreed, this would be the perfect name for our little boy.

Then we had to pick a middle name.  Traditionally in the Kikuyu tribe (the tribe Billy is from) the first-born son is named for the paternal grandfather (the second born then being named for the maternal grandfather) while first-born daughters are named for the paternal grandmother and so on.  There is also a tradition that while Billy uses his father’s Kikuyu name as his surname, Benji and myself take Billy’s Kikuyu name as our surname…entirely dropping his father’s name.  Billy decided that it was important for us to start our own family line, leaving behind old traditions and starting our own.  He chose not to give Benji his father’s name and actually chose to not give him a Kikuyu name at all.  Instead we decided we would choose a Swahili word with a positive meaning for a middle name.  We had decided on this a while before we sat down to pick a name, but didn’t have a specific word in mind. The idea behind it was that should Benji chose to follow tradition and drop Billy’s name, he would still have a name that could be used for his wife and children’s surname.  After we picked Benjamin it didn’t take us long at all to come up with Baraka.  Baraka is the Swahili word for Blessing.  It has become a popular first name for Kenyan families who are moving to giving their children meaningful names.  We loved how the names sounded together and the power of their meanings.

And so we had it, Benjamin Baraka.  Oh, in addition to these names, Benji’s last name (Billy’s Kikuyu name) means the hot or fiery one :).  Benji lives up to all his names.  He is most certainly the son of his father’s right hand.  He has been a daddy’s boy from the very first day.  They bonded while I was recovering in ICU and have been very, very close ever since.  On Wednesday, Billy and I went out to do somethings and left Benji with our househelp.  When we came home, Billy went to the shop in our estate while I came home to release the househelp.  Billy was less than 5 minutes behind me, but before he got home Benji was in tears…looking out the door asking for DADDY, DADDY.  When Billy came, Benji wouldn’t let him put him down for almost 5 minutes.  Benji is also very helpful and wants to be sure he does everything we are doing.   As for the warrior in him…it has been visable from the beginning.  I remember a friend of ours watching me struggle to nurse him and commenting, “he is very assertive, isn’t he.”  He was 2 months old!  Benji knows what he wants and he will do what he can to achieve it.  He prefers to do things himself even though he often ends up frustrated when he can’t get the blocks together or apart or something else doesn’t work the way he wants.  Benji is also a blessing.  Apart from a time or two, he loves visitors and is very warm and friendly.  He makes people smile.  And of course he is a huge blessing to our lives.  And lastly he is also fiery…his little temper has been showing recently, in the form of screams of frustration when we tell him no to something.  I hope and pray that we will be able to mould his fire and assertion into determination and discipline.

The picture is from an outing to the Nairobi SafariWalk…his determination was in full force (he wanted to keep running up and down the ramp :).


God and Marriage

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The year that my husband and I started dating and eventually got engaged was probably one of my best year spiritually.  I had just gone through a lot emotionally with the post-election violence that followed the 2007 elections here in Kenya.  Not only did it directly affect my family as we moved from the Rift Valley to Nairobi but I returned to the Rift Valley 4 times taking photos of the Internally Displaced People (IDPS) during prayer and relief  missions organized by Nairobi Chapel and other churches, as well as working with a group of children displaced by the violence and going with them as they returned home.  In the midst of all this I knew I needed God and became really close to Him.  I had plenty of time on my hands, plenty of privacy and plenty of drive to know God more.

Even after Billy and I started dating, my morning date with God was  an important part of my life.  I even remember going for a camp/mission trip to Uganda and how surprised everyone was that I would get up at 6 and spend time with God since we were spending time in Bible study most of the day.  It didn’t seem surprising to me because by then I was used to my morning date with God.

This continued for a while but I started missing my date with God now and then after we God engaged as the wedding planning kicked into full gear.  At that point it seemed like my focus needed to be on my husband-to-be and preparing myself for marriage and preparing a home for us and such.  I still made the dates with God when I could and even took myself out on lunch dates with God when I just needed to get away.

I remember being told many times, during premarital counseling, from women I respect, during my bridal showers that my personal relationship with God would be critically important after I got married.  But I was in the wonderworld only a bride can understand and believed that after we got married we would do everything together…including our relationship with God.

Our wedding was a beautiful celebration of the love God gives to two people.  We really wanted our ceremony to reflect the fact that what we were doing was just a glimpse at the wedding awaiting the Bride of Christ and her Groom.  And it was what we desired.  For us the worship that day was an unrivaled experience.  To praise and worship God while standing there with my husband and seeing how far God had brought us and all He had provided for us…nothing can compare to that.

We started a practice on our honeymoon of reading the Bible together each morning.  It was so wonderful to read and learn about God together.  Even when we came home we continued reading a little devotional each morning and praying together.  We also continued praying together every night, a habit we started soon after we started dating (over the phone of course in those days).   I enjoyed the moments we spent together in God’s word, so grateful that I had married a strong Christian.  But even as we met with God together, weathered storms together, walked the slippery path towards oneness I slowly drifted from God.  Why get up at 6am when I can cuddle in bed with my hubby?  How do I find time once we get up between preparing meals, figuring out where the money is going to come from, cleaning the house, washing the laundry and being there for my husband?  It seemed impossible.

I justified my drift from God with the fact that even the Bible predicts this dilemma in the life of a wife, talking about how the single lady has time to think of God and serve Him, but the married lady’s responsibility lies on earth, in taking care of her husband and family.  So I said…see even the Bible says its ok.

I kept hoping that our time together in the word and praying would be enough but slowly even that started to drift away.  Especially after Benji arrived.  Now, not only was there not time for my personal relationship with God there wasn’t even time for the two of us to spend time with God.  It dwindled down to just our prayers together at night.

Now after 2 1/2 years I’m left wondering what happened to my relationship with God and more importantly how do I get it back?  I still have all my wife responsibilities, combined with my mommy responsibilities, and then pile on time my responsibilities to our photography business…if I thought I didn’t have time 2 1/2 years ago, what about now.  But I have come to realize if I want to be successful as a wife, a mommy and a photographer, I need to figure out two things.  The first is how to have a stable relationship with God and the second is how to discover who I, as an individual, am and how to remain true to that in whatever I do.  (More on that another day).  For now my hope for my relationship with God is 30 minutes every morning before my hubby and baby get up.  I can already see it making a difference.