Do You Have a Strange Lamp in Your Bed?

I’ve always had a love for books and as a teenager growing up in rural Kenya without electricity, I dreamed up a genius idea to extend my reading hours past the official “lights out” time.

The “lights” were a kerosene lamp and my parents expected it to go out shortly after bedtime.

Do you have a strange lamp in your bed? Pursuing greatness in marriage

Being the genius girl, I would slip into bed, position the burning lamp next to the pillow and pull the blankets over the lantern and my head.

I could read like that for for hours without my parents knowing the lamp was still on.

The problem

But the problem with my genius plan was that I’d fall asleep. With a book on my face and a burning-kerosene-filled-distaster-in-waiting  next to my head.

I remember waking up one morning and the lamp had tipped over.

Terrified, my first thought was “I hope my mum didn’t see the light!”

The miracle of being alive was not immediately obvious.

How many of us wake up with a burning lamp next to our heads? 

Come through hard times and circumstances, at some point realize and marvel at God’s mercy and goodness. But then sort of forget about it and do the same dumb thing all over again?

That’s what I did. Felt the terror of escaping the wrath of my parents  – and escaping a fire. But do it again a few nights later.

What’s in your bed today?

Sometimes as young wives, we can waddle along in our ways, oblivious to the dangers of some ‘genius’ habits and plans.

He doesn’t like me talking to him that way? Oh he’ll just have to get used to it. We are all grown ups around here, aren’t we. (of course you don’t say that aloud)

Career/business/school eating into your marriage margin?  Oh the marriage will just have to work around that.

And then there’s other “smaller” things

The comparison

Diminishing boundaries

Unhealthy company

Declining to go the extra mile

Not recognizing and adjusting to seasons

Things that add up to little piles of disasters-in-waiting.

Getting a lamp out of my bed

Lately I’ve been trying to get this one particular lamp out of my bed.

I am a bit competitive and competitive people have a bad habit of unhealthy comparison.

I’ve been feeling frustrated about my snails-pace growth in ministry and business. I’ve encountered some  disappointments with our dream.

And lately (man if only I could get this lesson once and for all!) God’s been reminding me that the reason I am fighting fires is because I am trying to run another person’s race.

He’s been reminding me that when I take my eyes off Him, disasters will always rush in.

And my marriage will get hit ( a frustrated, disappointed, manic wife won’t pleasant company make )

Psalms 18: 32 – 34 has been both a comfort and challenge.

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places, he teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze”

It’s still a huge revelation to me, how God is not only the source of my dreams, He’s also the source of my strength to accomplish those dreams. (Tweet please)

How about you, any burning lamps you need to kick out of your bed today? :)

Can you hear the voice of our Father asking you to “put out that light”? Do you understand that whatever He requires of you is for your own good?

I pray that you do.


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Linking with Titus 2sdays, Growing Home, Messy Marriage, we are That Family, Wise Woman, Wifey Wednesday
  • Caleb

    Great illustration about how we often try to get something we want but it actually puts us in danger. I remember once when my daughter picked up a cigarette butt off the sidewalk and started to put it in her mouth. I quickly grabbed her hand and took the cigarette butt out. Of course she started to cry. It reminded me of how often I complain because God doesn’t give me want I want. What I need to realize is that God always gives me what I need.

  • Dan Black

    Great analogy, Ngina!

    Giving our worry and stress to God is so important. It’s something that I’ve had to remember the past few weeks (with all the changes that are going on in my life). Trusting in Him in all seasons.

  • Loren Pinilis

    Wow, a kerosene lamp under the sheets? My goodness you’re lucky to be alive, haha!
    But you make a good point about the dangers that we unknowingly let into our lives and hearts. I think the trap of comparison is one that gets me too.

  • Beth Steffaniak

    Ha, ha! That is so like me – to use that “lamp” over and over, risking burning my marriage and life down! I love this analogy, Ngina. But I love even more what you’ve said here, “God’s been reminding me that the reason I am fighting fires is because I am trying to run another person’s race.” So very profound and a common pitfall for most or all bloggers! But don’t you EVER doubt your impact to God’s kingdom purposes through the ministry of marriage mentoring. You shine brighter than any lamp under a blanket, my dear! But I do so love your heart and vulnerability!

  • JosephPote

    Very good analogy, with the lamp. It is important to put away things that present unnecessary danger to our important relationships.
    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

    • Ngina Otiende

      That’s true Joseph. It’s impossible to play with fire and not get hurt!

  • Dave Arnold

    Love the analogy Ngina. I too have struggled with trying to run another race & growing discouraged at my snails-pace-dreams. Great reminder!

    • Ngina Otiende

      I keep needing these reminders Dave. I am so glad I am not God cos I think I might have given up on me a long time ago! :)

  • Barb Raveling

    Wow, Ngina, that is so scary! I can’t believe you were reading in bed with a lantern under the covers!!! Wait til you have kids. You will even be more shocked at your scary behavior because you will imagine your own kids doing it. :) Wait, that’s not true. What’s true is that you assume your kids will be smarter than you. And then you’re shocked when you realize, no, they are just as non-smart. :) But I digress.

    Loved your point here. And you are such a great writer. My burning lamps are similar to yours but they’re affecting my relationship with God more than my relationship with my husband.

    I felt like I learned how to keep God first really well as a non-motivated, let’s-have-fun person. I was consistently close to Him for more than 10 years with that lifestyle. Now I have to learn how to stay close to Him and keep Him first as a person who works hard and pursues goals. The temptations are quite different.

    I’m learning, though! The last couple of days I’ve been praying through and meditating on 1 Peter 5:2-4 with writing in mind and that’s been very helpful.

    • Ngina Otiende

      Barb I am just praying for the supernatural miracle of ‘smart kids”! :) I can’t believe I came out unscathed…God is powerful! And He’s so faithful to answer a parents prayer. My mum and dad were constantly praying protection over us 9 kids. God answered them in ways they couldn’t even fathom at that time! :)

      Thanks for sharing those verses of scripture, they are powerful! I’ve been meditating on Mathew 11:28-30 and it builds on that.

      A whole different world opens up when we get intentional with God’s plan for our lives. Today God was reminding me that it’s okay to keep needing Him ..sometimes i just want to get “fixed” once and for all, get all the lessons and move on to the next thing! But then I wouldn’t need God anymore, would i :)

      By the way your book (I Deserve a Donut) has really helped remember to meditate and renew my mind with God’s word, not just try to muscle/spiritualize/positive-think my way through challenges :) It’s been a timely blessing.

      • Barb Raveling

        I like the Matthew passage too, Ngina. For awhile one of my questions in the perfectionism set of I Deserve a Donut was, “Are you remembering that you’re yoked together with God, or are you trying to pull the wagon by yourself?” Glad the donut questions have been helpful!

        Btw, I got the leather things in the mail this week and I love them! So fun. Haven’t been able to show my girls but I know they will like them too. Thanks. It’s fun to win a prize!

  • Micah

    This is really great comment. It’s so true that whatever is habitual to us we can deem innocuous. It takes some courage to be willing to confront those things in ourselves that have the potential to be harmful, especially because we can often think of them as ‘small’ things.

    • Ngina Otiende

      Micah your comment brings to mind “small foxes that spoil the vineyard”. :) It’s the small things that often trip us up.

  • floyd

    It’s a constant life long fight with the flesh. The lamps come and go, but it’s His constant reminder and sovereignty that quit on us. Amazing love. Thanks for the reminder. Love the stories from your childhood, great analogy.

    • Ngina Otiende

      I am glad for His constant love. Through Him we overcome. Thanks Floyd.

  • DS

    Absolutely! There are tons of things that can sneak into a marriage. What I’ve found is that you and your wife/husband have to choose together that one another is a refuge, and that you’re 100% committed in good/bad times/health/money/etc. A lot of times that means removing other distractions from your marriage, severing relationships, or “missing out” on other activities. In the end it’s you and your spouse forever. They’re the one who’s going to be around when no one else is. They’re the one who is going to grow old with you. They’re the one who is going to help you send your children off.

    • Ngina Otiende

      Ds, Lately I’ve had many reminders about “missing out” activities. Not every “opportunity” is meant to be pursued, sometimes you have to say no to the good/seemingly better in order to have the best.

  • Kimberly A Edwards

    Ngina, I love this analogy with the lamp. It’s a great perspective. I find myself with the lamp of frustration in my bed. I’m learning to leave it with God and stop trying to deal with it. In the fullness of time… it will happen.

    • Ngina Otiende

      Amen Kimberly. In the fullness of time.