Monthly Archives: May 2015

Bless Your Baby (Ideas for Baby’s Thirteenth Week)

  1. Giving and Receiving Love GiftsFlowers for Mother's Day“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts.” 1 Corinthians 14:1

PRAYER: Dear God of love, thank you that you are the definition of love! May we as a family always pursue you…pursue love… like an adventurer struggling to climb to the top of Mt. Everest. May we search for you with the passion of a miner digging for diamonds and the desperation of a thirsty deer panting for a water brook! May we seek for you with all our hearts…and may we always find you May our love for you overflow in love, peace, and goodwill toward all those around us.

THOUGHT: Making and giving gifts is a wonderful way of expressing love. The mother of a not-quite-three-month-old has little time for making gifts, let alone including Baby in the process, but here’s one idea for a gift that could be a long-term blessing for everyone.

ACTIVITY: One of the hardiest and most indestructible houseplants is ivy. Take a picture of Baby (or your whole family) and have it laminated (local print shop), then secure it onto the side of the pot. Write or print off a little gift card, perhaps using Psalm 128 as a starting point for explaining that you now have a new little sprout in your home, and that you hope each time your loved ones water the plant they will remember that you love them. Perhaps (if your recipients are prayer warriors), express the hope that as the plant grows, they will be reminded that this Baby is growing too and ask that while they water the plant, they might also pray for Baby’s growth in grace and strength. While you’re at it, if you can, assure your loved ones that you will be praying for them as well! Prayer is one of the world’s greatest spiritual gifts that we can give each other.

  1. A Carnival for ThreeOut for a walk“For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.” Isaiah 66:12

PRAYER: Dear Father, Thank you for your blessings of food and good appetites. Thank you for the advice in the Bible to eat and drink and enjoy the good fruit from hard labor. It is so true that “two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.” Thank you that every child born comes from both a mother and father. May both of Baby’s parents care for her and one another through all the happy and hard times! Thank you for extending peace like a river to us. May Baby be able to grow up carried in a mother’s arms and bounced on a father’s knee!

THOUGHT: How about a carnival? This is something you can play with one child or several (especially if several people are willing to be “rides”).

ACTIVITY: Pretend to be different types of transportation and take Baby for “rides.” For examples: bus, car, boat, airplane, rocket ship, canoe, roller coaster, tilt-a-whirl, train, merry-go-round. Make lots of appropriate sounds like “chug-a-chug,” screech, whistle, toot, beep, splash, whirr. Be expressive vocally but not too loud, and always be gentle with your movements, which can be big and sweeping but shouldn’t be fast or Baby might get frightened. Also, the carnival should not occur while Baby is trying to digest a meal, or she may spit up a milk shake! Make sure Baby is still having fun after each “trip.” Some babies adore such play, and others find it very frightening, so be sensitive.

  1. Ideas for a Photo Op with FriendsAdventuring copy“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.”
    1 Thessalonians 3:12

PRAYER: Oh, Father! Thank you again for being such a wonderful father to us, and for placing us in families and among friends! Bless Baby! May he grow up to love and be loved by many, many people! May he always be surrounded by friends and know the blessing of giving and receiving. May our home be filled with fellowship, laughter, and warmth…as hospitable and inviting as a warm fire on a winter night! You cover yourself with light as with a garment…please clothe us with the radiance of your love. Make us lighthouses in this dark world to draw others into the safe harbor of your love.

THOUGHT: Whether it’s a holiday, a family reunion, or just a special day with some dear friends, you can commemorate it by taking some time for dress-up fun and photos!

ACTIVITY: What about a dress-up day? If you’re all alone and bored, try various hats on Baby’s head, let him look in the mirror, and take a picture (maybe for another little photo album). If you’re with friends and relatives for a special occasion, be it Christmas or the Fourth of July, how about using it for an opportunity to make some wonderful family memories? Let the toddlers have lots of freedom to choose what they want to wear (Daddy’s boots or Mommy’s scarf), and the children can help make suggestions for what Baby will wear. That’s a game that could occupy kids for quite a while, and it could expand into some real fun if the grownups get in the act and try on funny combinations too!

  1. Taking a StandPracticing Standing“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” Philippians 4:1

PRAYER: Dear Lord of Lords and King of Kings, What a privilege to stand for you! Bless our baby, Lord! May she always stand for truth, for mercy and justice, for love and kindness. May we “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” Thank you that we can stand on the solid rock of Christ, from whence we were hewn! Thank you for our sure foundation. Thank you that we are not left to sink in miry clay or be slowly buried under the shifting sands of the world’s desert, because you have rescued us and placed us in the mighty fortress of our God! What an awesome God you are!

THOUGHT: One of the best ways you can help your baby develop is to anticipate what new skills she’s on the verge of learning and support her in her efforts. Around three months, many babies are strong enough to start standing up and can learn much faster if you give them supervised practice. Be Baby’s coach and cheerleader, and she’ll become your star player!

ACTIVITY: Once Baby is starting to stand, she can use lots of supported practice sessions where you lean her against the soft back of the couch and see how long she can balance. Your job is to keep her from losing her balance so much that she loses her nerve and doesn’t want to play anymore. This fascinating game can be played for a minute or two at almost any time of the day when Baby is feeling spunky, since practice makes perfect, and babies are all about learning new stuff. Give Baby lots of happy approval for her feats, she’ll be all the more motivated to perfect whatever skill she’s trying to master.

  1. Comforting BabyBaby in Moby Wrap 9.13“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” Isaiah. 40:1

PRAYER: Dear Blessed Savior, how often we take comfort in knowing that you are there and that you love us. Help us to trust you as implicitly as Baby trusts us! May we be dependable and loving, so that Baby learns to trust us. May we be tender and kind to Baby, and may Baby respond by becoming a kind and gentle soul.

THOUGHT: I don’t know if your babies will get sick as often as our babies did. Our oldest two, Aaron and Michael, were born during my husband’s medical school days, Jonathan and Kathryn during residency, and Daniel and Stephen during the first years of medical practice. In addition, we were always involved in church and I loved company, so, our babies were constantly (although unintentionally) exposed to all types of infections and illnesses. Each family will have to consider how to balance the risks and needs of their children, but overall, some exposure to non-serious infections is probably inevitable and a normal part of Baby’s immune system development.

ACTIVITY: What are ways of showing comfort? Understanding looks, gentle tones, going out of your way to let Baby be close. Nuzzling, kissing, holding hands, gentle touches. Does Baby have a very soft something to hold? A silky blanket, favored stuffed animal or dolly can be a real comfort. My mother used to place her silky nightgown in my crib when she’d leave, and the familiar smell and feel comforted me. The greatest comfort you can give (beyond good care) is your presence. Look for ways to comfort Baby when he’s sick, and keep him as close to you as you can.

  1. Praying for Grace to Endure ExhaustionMama and Baby“For his anger endures but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

PRAYER: Merciful Father, how often we come to the end of ourselves…of our energy, our creativity, our patience, our endurance in suffering and self-sacrifice. We discover how shallow we are. Remember that we are but dust. Strengthen us in our inner man when we are exhausted. Fill us with your spirit and grace. Renew us to the task of parenting when we are tired. Bless Baby! Help us all to endure, and restore us to a place of peace and pleasantness after we have been tried and refined. May we all come through, remembering that the trying of our faith is more precious than the purifying of gold. May we come forth bright and beautiful for you…vessels fit for our master’s use! Thank you that your anger is brief and your favor is unending. Thank you for the hope that joy will come in the morning after a long, sleepless night. Please bless us with grace to endure!

THOUGHT: Learning patience in suffering is one of the most trying tasks for both Baby and parents, and illness is usually the chief source of suffering. How do we as parents learn compassion and patience? By empathetically remembering our own suffering.

ACTIVITY: Try to remember how you felt when you were sick. In the midst of trouble, pray for grace and deliverance, and then do the best you can. There are no magical cures for the trials of this life, but God will provide grace to endure if only we will ask. Have you heard the saying, “Pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you”? God’s grace is sufficient. God, grant us grace through the night and joy in the morning!

  1. Access and AdjustTwins“At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.” Psalm 119:62

PRAYER: Lord, God of our fathers, may we—like hundreds of generations before us—seek you early and continue to praise you through each day of every year of our lives…from early in the morning and even at midnight if we’re still awake! Thank you that you show mercy to thousands of generations who trust in you. We want to be among those generations! May our children be blessed throughout every succeeding generation until Jesus comes back to reign on earth! We thank you that you are the judge of all the earth who does right. Give us your wisdom to see clearly and judge rightly as we appraise our lives from time to time. May our family be like trees plants planted by rivers of living water, doing those things which bear the peaceable fruits of righteousness. We bless you, Lord, with all our souls, and may everything within us bless your holy name!

THOUGHT: Every once in a while it’s good to stop and access your situation, not only on New Year’s Eve, but on a regular basis. How about taking inventory for a few minutes? How are you feeling about Baby? What are the problem areas and tensions? How are you and your husband coping? How is your husband feeling about Baby? Has your love life been fully restored? What areas need adjustment?

ACTIVITY: How about sitting down with your husband at some point today to discuss this question: What could be done to optimize our enjoyment of this present stage of life? Try to answer for Baby too. Problem solving with positive action can really improve your family life, no matter how difficult or wonderful it is. (And yes, some parents are blessed with twins! 🙂 )

  1. Emergency Measures for When Mom’s SickBaby looking at computer 7.09“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.” Matthew 8:16

PRAYER: O God, our help from ages past and our hope for years to come, thank you for being the great healer and sustainer of life. Thank you also for being a father to the fatherless and the judge to help widows. Thank you that Baby has many who love her and are willing to help take care of her. Thank you for those faithful nursery workers who watch Baby so we can enjoy church services. Thank you for many material resources to help Baby learn and grow as well. Help us to trust in you with all our hearts and lean on your understanding to know how to best bring up Baby! May the people we entrust Baby to, and the influences in our home, all be wholesome and good, so that Baby grows up with a mind filled with those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report.

THOUGHT: There are some very clever, worthwhile videos available. However, videos are to creativity what candy is to diet. They must be used with extreme moderation or they will be detrimental. One of the best things you can do for your child is bring them up without the mesmerizing influence of television, and I would implore mothers to resist resorting to commercial entertainment whenever possible to help your children develop creativity, resourcefulness, industry, concentration, and contentment.

ACTIVITY: That being said, if you are really sick and need resources to help you keep Baby occupied, this might be the perfect time to offer Baby a bright children’s video, but only if Baby finds it engaging (which she might not yet).

A Desert Experience

Swans on lakeI’ve rarely ever been to the desert. Rainy day on lake As I sit looking out my window, I see light rain falling on our lake, Racoon and I’ve been watching our coon coming and going as he hunts for prize bits to feed his babies.Mandevilla Our mandevilla is covered with blossoms Racoon and behind cherry tree and cherries are forming on our black cherry tree. Wild turkeys It’s hard to imagine leaving my bountiful woodland home Desert to travel to a barren desert!Geranium At such times, I ask myself why in the world I’d ever do such a thing?! Masada  However, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot in the desert! Deer  So, if I don’t post much over the next while, know that I’m otherwise occupied.Red-winged blackbird ASAP and AOAP (that’s “as often as possible”) I will reconnect to share lessons from my desert experience. Swans on lake 2 Meanwhile, I’ll be praying for you as you read my blog posts,
and I hope you’ll pray for me while I’m gone.  Blessings,  Kathi Green cherries in rain“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
(Jesus tells us this in John 10:16)

Rise Up, My Love (140): The Mystery of Christ’s Taking Pleasure in Us

LoveSong of Solomon 5:1 “I have drunk my wine with my milk.” Again, the metaphor conjures up visions of perfected fullness. He has drunk his wine and milk together. Milk is for a child…wine for an adult; milk is for nourishment and growth…wine is for the fullness of joy; milk is the natural outflow of reproduction, and speaks of that which is by God’s natural design…wine is distilled and speaks of God’s heavenly purposes. In taking his bride unto himself, the bridegroom imbibes that which meets the needs of both youth and age, that which nurtures and strengthens as well as bringing joy, that which satisfies the natural and the spiritual man. In his wife he experiences the satisfaction for his longings and the fullness of joy. Oh blissful, precious thought that our Lord could find such satisfaction in us!Jesus with woman at wellCan it be? If we could only grasp the reality of Christ’s love for us, wouldn’t we love sitting at his feet like Mary and communing with him above all other earthly delights (Luke 10:38-42)? It is a mystery to me that he could find such delight in his people, and yet I believe this is exactly what he is saying. We are to him more than the sweetest and the best physical pleasures. This is the “meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32). Christ bringing his bride to himself meant more to him than physical food. In John chapter four, we see that he was more refreshed by a transformed life than by a drink of water! His enjoyment of his own is a greater delight than feasting on honey and wine. “O taste and see that the Lord is good,” and then invite him to enjoy the sweetness that he has also produced in us!

 

Universal Gifts of Beauty

Lan Tau IslandAre you wild about flowers? I am!!  Shanghai flowersEverywhere we go, I’m pausing to admire and photograph brilliant flowers, Orchids. Singapore 2 and I never cease to wonder at their delicate textures, exquisite forms, Busan, South Koreatantalizing aromas, and luscious coloring. Hong Kong Alan, on the other hand, has a bit of motor mania.
(Can you tell who exclaimed over what in this picture?) Nagasaki Peace Memorial Over time, I’ve learned to recognize many garden flowers Azaleas. Hong Kong and have found to my delight that the vast majority of these beauties Daisies in Nagasaki seem able to flourish almost universally around the world. Vietnamese Flowers at Palace All these pictures were taken on our Southeastern Asia cruise Flowering Crab. Temple of Heaven. Beijing (from the equator to near the 45th parallel), and yet—if you’re a flower lover—Orange Tulips. Japanyou’ve probably noticed most of them growing in some garden not far from you. Viet Nam Lotus Of course, many of these flowers— such as the gorgeous lotus
(national flower of Vietnam) Orchids in Singaporeand orchid (national flower of Singapore)— Flowers in Vietnam have been transplanted from various countries where they are indigenous, Orchids. Lan Tau Island and they have to be maintained with great care in their new environments. Poinsettas Hong Kong Have you ever considered that foreign people are like foreign flowers? Flowers in Hong Kong Mountains They have been transplanted, and if they are to thrive in our culture, Spring Blossoms Shanghai they will need special care. Singapore. Bouganvillea Do you know people who’ve moved from another country to your neighborhood?Wedding party on steps of Reconcilliation Palace. Vietnam May we reach out to them in love, Tianamin Square Flowers in Spring appreciating that they’re also universal gifts of beauty
to be treasured and nurtured! Camellia. Shanghai“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

Like Thailand’s Chao Phraya River

Chao Phraya RiverscapeThe “River of Kings” snakes 231 miles through the entire heart of Thailand, Chao Phraya Riverfrontincluding Bangkok, Chao Phraya River. China House so after our morning of site-seeing (this is the famous “China House” restaurant)Chao Phraya River. Captain we were treated to a cruise down the Chao Phraya River Thai lunch in Bangkok on our way to an authentic (and gourmet) Thai lunch buffet. Sampan on Chao Phraya RiverWe traveled in a flat-bottomed sampan. Chao Phraya River sampans The sampans are everywhere  Chao Phraya River 2 and used by everybody Chao Phraya River Sampan both for transporting goods and passengers…Chao Phraya River. Boarding so we had to wait in a very long, hot line to board, Chao Phraya River insect collections although the line wound through stalls with all sorts of exotic items for sale that you really couldn’t get in America, so that was very…educational! 🙂 Chao Phraya River Wat ArunOur river cruise took us by the Buddhist Temple known as Wat Arun, Chao Phraya River which is often featured in photos (but was being restored this spring). Chao Phraya River BoatsRiver life is fascinating…a world unto itself, Bangkok Downtown from Chao Phraya River 2but it’s a great way to get insight into the heart of a city and take its pulse. Chao Phraya River 8 We saw lots of unusual but lovely architecture Chao Phraya River Sampans and marveled at the busy-ness and population density.Chao Phraya River. Government BuildingWe saw beautiful government buildings and could tell they honor their royalty. Church along Chao Phraya RiverWe noted that there are not only many Buddhist temples…
but also a few churches. Chao Phraya River SkyscrapersLike every city, there were not only amazing skyscrapers, Old Building on Chao Phraya Riverbut  some old, run down buildings that needed to be restored or replaced. Chao Phraya River 5However, cruising the Chao Phraya River was a remarkably different experience Chao Phraya River Bridgein this one way: There is no bridge separating wealth and poverty.Chao Phraya River ContrastAlong the Chao Phraya River beauty and ugliness dwell side by side. Tourists on the Chao Phraya RiverSomeone asked our tour guide why the poor people didn’t sell their homes; with the profit they could doubtless have much better housing somewhere else! Chao Phraya River HovelsHowever, the tour guide said the people have lived there for generations and don’t want to give up their land and lifestyle. Chao Phraya River HovelI think my own heart is like the Chao Phraya River! Bangkok from Chao Phraya River 2I’ve surrendered my heart to Jesus, and there are areas where he’s made something beautiful of my life. Chao Phraya River PovertyBut, there are also many places where I’m still hanging on to the way things have been done for generations…and I seem unwilling or unable to allow change. Chao Phraya River  Home in CityThe Lord loves us so much that he gives us perfect freedom to choose,
and we may prefer running our own lives to risking change,
feeling like we’re already happy and content with our status quo life… Bangkok construction of highway 2 and never able to visualize or believe that something even better could exist!Bangkok City Center from Chao Phraya RiverBut, as for me, I’m ready to leave my comfort zone Bangkok construction of highway 4 and let the Lord build whatever he wants in my life—
for his glory and the blessing of others. Lotus Blossom Grand Palace. Bangkok“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord‘s, and he hath set the world upon them” (1 Samuel 2:8).

The Wisdom of The Time Changer

The Time Changer MovieI was talking to a girlfriend not long ago about the changes in our society, and she recommended and lent me the movie called The Time Changer. It was produced in 2002, so you may have already seen it, and the acting is not stellar, so if you haven’t seen it, I have to warn you that neither the pace nor portrayals are mesmerizing. In fact, I had to wait until Mother’s Day to get any takers to join me in persevering through it, but the basic message of this sci-fi drama did ring true in my heart, and so I want to recommend it, especially if you have young kids in your home. 30-9-330 The Time Changer is a worthy 95-minute, PG-rated movie that might produce some profitable discussion, especially if flavored with a bowl of popcorn.  🙂  The Time Changer The plot and point are simple: A Bible professor from 1890 is transported to the future (present day modern America) and is aghast at what he finds. The biblical principles of morality (on which our country were founded) had been separated from their authority (God) and eventually considered invalid. I’ve lived through the truth of this movie. Although the name Madalyn Murray O’Hair may mean little to those of you born after 1970, she was a notorious atheist and dissident who had a primary role in eliminating Bible reading and prayer from our public schools. I was born in 1950, and we used to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and the Lord’s Prayer every morning at the beginning of our school day. (Yes, in the public schools.) Praying together and any official reading of the Bible ended in 1962-3—my junior high years, and the time when I became a believer. The changes in our school system since that time have been profound, so much so that I went from loving public schools to home schooling my children just to protect them from the degeneration of the public system, not only morally, but academically and socially as well. Since America went off the gold standard, it’s been floundering in a morass of rule by public opinion that’s as unstable and changeable as quicksand. Where there is no God, there is no foundation for moral law. Our country desperately needs a return to godly wisdom.loadimage

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

May Your Memorial Day Memories Bring You Peace

Army 2Today is “Memorial Day” in America…the day we remember all the heroic men and women who sacrifice their security so that the rest of us can enjoy security. Turkey Nest 5.15.15+3And, I will say, our family does have the great blessing of security right now. It’s so peaceful here that a wild turkey laid her eggs snuggled up against our home! Wilderness St. ParkAlan and I went camping up north to Wilderness State Park for two nights. TrilliumThe woodland floor was covered with trillium. Mackinac Island Birches Saturday we walked all the way around Mackinac Island. It was so peaceful! Worship ServiceYesterday we were free to enjoy our church’s worship service, Popcorn and last night we watched a movie while sharing a bowl of popcorn.Racoon on waterfrontToday Alan and I have been working hard washing up and cleaning up. GeraniumsMy job has been laundry, weeding the gardens, and planting flowers, Wisteriawhile Alan’s been hard at work cutting the grass and washing vehicles, Daniel and Samuelbut after we’re done working, we’re looking forward to a relaxing evening with some of our kids and one of our grand babies. Memorial RemembraceNone of these wonderful, simple pleasures would be possible if our world was at war, and so I want to say a huge “THANK YOU” to our military!!! Rocky Ride home from Mackinac IslandI also pray for peace and good will for everyone around the world, knowing that for many people, life is very rough and rocky…for some…terrible. Wild Turkey eggs in nestRegardless of our outward circumstances, my our spirits snuggle up in the bosom of our Father and find a place of peace and safety.

“Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.” (Psalm 84:3)

(* The two pictures of military were saved from email forwards, but the rest were taken around my house and up north.)