It was meant to be the best day of my life. I was getting married to my best friend and Bible school classmate of 3 years, Patrick Omukhango. It had been exactly 1 year and 1 month of courting and planning the wedding but 3 years 3 months of friendship. Have you noticed the matching numbers? They are true accounts but have no significance – not that I know of yet.
After the proposal and acceptance https://bit.ly/theproposalandacceptance we went through what we called proving for marriage back then. While it is true that only God knows the best partner for you, it’s good to walk with other older couples of like faith. And while it is true that no human being should tell you yes or no in such life decisions, walking with people who have gone ahead of you in marriage (and other areas of your life) helps you avoid certain and obvious pitfalls.
As I entered Pastor Vincent Odhiambo‘s office, my heart was pounding. What if this is a terrible mistake and I make a fool of myself? What if the voice I heard concerning the matter was not from God? What sort of questions will he ask me anyway? Patrick had already done his part of proving, and though we were working in the same ministry and seeing each other daily, we were not supposed to discuss the marriage at this point. Sounds like FBI investigation right? Lol. Vincent’s and Dolly Odhiambo‘s part were not to dictate to us what God’s will was but to guide us to evaluate the voice and test the spirit to see if it was from God. It took 6 whole months that felt like decades.
In October 2010, we were clear on the fact that God had spoken to both of us individually and were good to start with the wedding plans. We had 6 months, literally.
Now we all know that a wedding is allegedly a girl’s dream day – plus with all the Barbie and soap operas watching accumulated over the years, it gets crazy. So I had this idea of the princess in the castle who is rescued by a knight. Whatever it would cost – fundraiser, goat eating pre-wedding party – two if need be, a soft loan from a friend… Whatever it would cost. (Footnote for parents: If you can control how much of the soap operas drama your children watch, you will have gifted them a great deal – discussion for another day).
In one of our lunch dates, Patrick asked me to pray about the budget the Lord wants us to set for the wedding. My initial thinking was, we research about all that we needed then it will help us determine how much we needed to have. Nope! The Man of God will have none of that.
Out of respect of him as soon-to-be leader of our home, I obliged. After a few days of prayers, we agreed on a budget, a very low budget which was approximately 1.5months worth of our allowance from Christian Literature Communications – CLC Kenya. It was not much. But it’s what the Lord had guided us to. So we worked around that budget: a tent, chairs, sound, food, drinks, cake, cars and off course our apparel. We agreed not to go past that budget in obedience to God’s instructions. For a girl, the budget was just impossible to implement.
In addition to this, we had the instructions from the Lord not to do a fundraiser, get a loan – soft or hard, neither work our amazing committee (thank you all) towards raising the funds. So how was it going to work?
Several months into the planning, God started to send people our way, “How are your plans going?” A few friends asked. “Plans are going well, thanks for asking.” We responded. “Can I have a look at your budget?” They prodded. “Sure, thanks.” We engaged. “You have food at Kes 20,000? That’s impossible to pull. Let me sort out food – please add more chicken and beef and…” One friend took that up.
“Can I get the bride her dress? Can we offer photography? Can we…” This became the story of our planning. We opened a joint account and put in all the monetary gifts there for better administration. The budget and provision came to about 300% of the initial allocation. The Lord had done it His way – not our way. This would later become our way of living, often asking, “What does the Lord want us to do in this situation?”
Two weeks before the big day, all deposit payments due to service providers were done with enough in the account for our treasurer to clear the bills after the wedding. I was so bored with no errands to run, that I started manufacturing things to do and Patrick had to keep reminding me to let go. Since we had received so much from the Lord, we felt the need to give a gift on the wedding day to all the married couples in attendance. Our then boss, Edith Wamalwa allowed us to buy two titles we were passionate about. Tony Evans books – A Man’s Role in the Home https://bit.ly/kenya-clc-org-a-mans-role-in-the-home and A Woman’s Role in the Home https://bit.ly/kenya-clc-org-a-womans-role-in-the-home were great gifts for about 50 couples in attendance. This was the only cost we actually paid for at Kes 14,000. The Lord brought people from East, West, North and South to cater for our needs at that time.
In these two small but packed books, Tony Evans presents the Bible’s view on the order of relationships and duties within the home. Very transformational perspectives that helped us start off our union on the right footing. Another great book that helped us was Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ Love and Respect https://bit.ly/kenya-clc-org-love-and-respect where he reveals the secret to couples meeting each other’s deepest needs-without love she reacts without respect, and without respect he reacts without love – and a painful, negative cycle begins.
I also value the advise that Patrick received from our best man Apostle Paul Lemayian and his wife prophet Tabitha Lemayian to focus more on the life after the wedding date. I already had my daughter Adnah McKenna and moving her to a better school was of higher priority to us than a Cinderella gown worth tens or hundreds of thousands shillings.
For another couple, moving to a better residency is more important or even having money for rent and food for a few months would be critical. Yet for another couple, making an investment for the future would be ideal. This is not about how much money you spend or don’t spend, but about how far above your living standard you should not go to make a wedding happen.
All that was digression, the point is, on 21st May 2011 we did get married. The day was great for us because we got each other. And on Sunday 22nd May, our first day together as a family started. Thankfully to God, with no debts, no loans, no much dent to our finances and with a great foundation of faith in God as our sustainer going forward.
More important, there were no false impressions that create unrealistic expectations. There are things I would never bother asking my husband for, I know how much we have unless I wanted him to rob the bank – God forbid! We started at a good place, thanks to our pastors and a few couples who sat us down throughout the process.
#Lesson101 Allow God to guide and direct the plans of your big day (and other big days of your life).
#Lesson102 Do not start your life together in debts, deficiencies and low points if you can avoid it. Covid19 has also confirmed that some things are over rated.
#Lesson103 Try to be yourselves from the beginning. It gets easier and lighter to live a life of no pretense after the wedding.
#Lesson104 Walk with others who have gone ahead of you to avoid some pitfalls on the way.
#Lesson105 If you can hack it to be open about finances from the beginning, you will have solved a number of problems. As my pastor says, if you can share your bodies with each other, why is it hard to share the money? Is the money more important than your bodies?
#SinglesTip Girl, do not put too high expectations on the boy. If he gets into debts to impress you, it will be your debt too after the wedding.
#Bonus Work within your budget and God will sort the extras His way.
#MarriageTip He needs your respect. She needs your love. Get the knowledge how to each give and take.
#MarriageSOSResource: Did I mention that even if you started in a wrong footing or things are not working right now, there’s hope for your marriage? Yes. If the two of you are willing to put in a bit of effort, and become vulnerable to each other, open up to another person you can get marriage counselling to help you scale through current challenges. Couples have rebooted to a fresh start with the help of other people – pastors, counsellors, older couples… Just look around you, God has a way of escape for both of you. To get you started, in Kenya, Pastor Barnabas Achoki and Grace A Achoki, the authors of the book Marriage, Thistles and Flowers https://bit.ly/kenya-clc-org-marriage-thistles-and-flowers run a great marriage program.
Nelly Kagoru, a certified counsellor and author of the book Accountability – a Biblical Principle https://bit.ly/kenya-clc-org-accountability-a-biblical… also runs marriage counselling sessions.
And there are many more like these two. In your church, in your circles, in your home fellowships. Grab on to the help that God will bring your way. Marriage was made to work. It works. It will work.