PRAYER: Dear mighty God, we praise you for being the God most high. We thank you for all the wonderful abundance of good things you’ve given us: settled peace, eternal security, an inheritance as sons of God, all the gifts of food, shelter, work, rest, friends, and family here on this earth, and the promise of an abiding place with you forever in our future. We praise you that regardless of our material wealth, truly, the entire earth is full of your goodness, grace, and gifts. Thank you that we don’t have to be rich in possessions in order to enjoy the best gifts of life. May we always rejoice in what we have and, like the apostle Paul, learn contentment regardless of our external circumstances.
THOUGHT: As Robert Louis Stevenson reminds us: “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” It takes very little to entertain an infant, and if you don’t have much money for toys (and we certainly didn’t), try making some of your own.
ACTIVITY: All you need for a cradle gym is a sturdy piece of rope tied securely across the top of the crib from which you can dangle some interesting, colorful rattles or large objects that are easy to bat or grasp and impossible to break or swallow. No rattles? Try a slotted serving spoon (not directly over the baby’s face!), a tin pan, a small piece of colorful, light cloth, or some clean, empty plastic bottles. Vary the color, size, shape, and texture of the toys, but give Baby lots to interesting objects for “batting practice,” taking care to supervise, since home made toys often aren’t as “baby proof” as commercial ones.
- Those Traumatic Immunizations “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” I Peter 4:19
PRAYER: Oh Lord, our faithful Creator, we commit the keeping of our souls to you. May we always be found doing that which is right and good despite pain, exhaustion, and difficult circumstances. That is so hard, Lord! Bless Baby. We pray that you would keep her from complications when she has immunizations. Please protect her little body and help her to become strong and more resistant to illness and disease as a result of these efforts.
THOUGHT: When you schedule your appointment for Baby’s immunizations, try to keep the rest of the day free so you can take whatever time she needs to cater to her woes and let her know you understand! She will very likely be miserable, tired, and need plenty of rest and reassurance.
ACTIVITY: Kiss her little cheeks and nuzzle her gently. Sing lullabies to her and rock her. Pet her hair and pat her back. Encourage her with the actual explanation you might give an older child. Over the crib I always kept a cross-stitched reminder that my friend Kari Formsma (who’s now an Ob/Gyn) made for me when my first child was born:
“Cleaning and dusting can wait ‘til tomorrow,
For babies grow up, as we’ve learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cleaning…dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep!”
- When Baby Hurts“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Thank you for being very pitiful and full of tender mercy. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning and your faithfulness reaches to the heavens. Thank you that even when we can’t understand what you’re doing, we can trust your heart, knowing that you are working all things together for good. Bless our family with hope, faith, and love. Bless us all with patience. May we be found among those who are counted as happy because they are able to endure the difficult challenges of life.
THOUGHT: Babies need encouragement just as much as adults do, it’s just that we often long to be able to “explain” things and get frustrated because we know they can’t understand language yet.
ACTIVITY: When you want to comfort Baby but know he can’t understand explanations yet, try singing a song that contains the right emotional message. Music has an amazing capacity for translating heart messages. When my son Jonathan was a baby and would cry, Aaron’s “bestest buddy” Jeff (age 5) would often try to console Jonny but jiggling his basket and singing to him the encouraging song, “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Not infrequently, Jonathan would stop crying and listen, sometimes totally forgetting his woes with the delight of attention and melody. So, too, you can encourage your baby to “buck up and be brave” by singing brave songs to him. Often he’ll catch the drift and perk up!
- Exercising Compassion“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
PRAYER: Dear Father, as Baby grows, may he learn to value his growth in godliness even more than his physical growth. The world teaches that “might makes right” and “biggest is best.” Thank you that you are the mightiest of all—you are omnipotent—and you are the biggest of all—even “heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you” (2 Chronicles 6:18)! But, thank you even more that it isn’t might that makes right, but it is You that makes right, because you are righteous, good, just, and true in all you do. May we understand that growing in godliness will bring about lasting profit, not only in this life, but also in the life to come!
THOUGHT: Immunizations cause sore muscles, which can be relieved by exercise and massage. However, when our muscles hurt, we often avoid using them, right? Here’s where love can step in and be especially helpful to relieve muscle pain.
ACTIVITY: My husband and I absolutely adore our nightly routine of giving each other back scratches and back rubs. Likewise, Baby will love any attention you may lavish on him! Massages are so soothing and really only take a few minutes. When I was a preschooler, I used to look forward to my Aunt Helen visiting, because whenever she tucked me into bed, she always rubbed my feet for a minute, saying “Little girls get tired feet too!” You can be such a blessing to your baby if you occasionally take the time to help him exercise and then end the “workout” with a very gentle, relaxing massage.
- Blessed Hope for Healing“For we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope…But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Romans 8:24-25
PRAYER: Dear Lord GOD, author of hope, thank you that your eye is upon them that hope in your mercy. Your eye truly is on even the tiniest sparrow, and we are so thankful that you watch over us. Our hearts rejoice with the psalmist who said, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” Thank you that you heal our pains, either in this life or the next. When Baby grows up, may he say with the psalmist, “Thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.”
THOUGHT: I have friends who are missionaries and usually have to drive some together every day. John is rather quiet, but Rosemary is extremely cheerful and talkative. They have settled into this compromise: If Rosemary asks John a question or comments about the scenery and John is too tired or preoccupied to respond, Rosemary answers for him. They both enjoy the game, and it usually makes John laugh and “wake up.” It works just as well with babies, and you might find yourself understanding Baby better…or at least imagining that you do!
ACTIVITY: Begin to build a sense of camaraderie with your child by “conferring” on all the mundane yet positive business of life, such as “What shall we make for dinner tonight?” or “Shall we start the laundry first or do up the dishes?” Use lots of expression, as if you fully expect a reply. If you can get him to smile or respond to you, so much the better. If he doesn’t pay attention, try to imagine what he might say and try answering for him.
- Reverence and Healing“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” Malachi 4:2
PRAYER: Dear Son of Righteousness, we confess that we do not fear your name as much as you deserve. We love your name. We call on your name. We remember that your name is a high tower that we can run into and be safe. Help us as a family to honor your name above all others. You have indeed come to us with healing in your wings, and Baby is growing up like a calf in the stall. May our respect for you be as pleasing to you as your wonderful care of us has been a joy to us.
THOUGHT: Although we rarely stop to think about it, there is a direct connection between our revering God (“fearing” to displease him) and the health and happiness of our family. We can extend a blessing to our children by attempting to honor God in everything…even as we care for the mundane details of their physical needs.
ACTIVITY: Sometimes Baby’s skin may get chapped or sore. It is so sensitive…can’t be too wet or too dry. If Baby’s skin is healthy but dry, try rubbing just a bit of baby lotion on her. Try a drop or two on her legs or toes and gently rub it in, or a drop or two on her tiny hands. Have you ever had someone rub hand cream onto your hands for you? It feels amazingly luxurious. It’s also a great way to get all the lint out from the tiny crevices. 🙂 Babies at this age often cling to their blankets and can end up with bits of lint in the creases of their palms or between their toes. Baby will love the tickly, soothing sensation of baby lotion while she’s been “cleaned and oiled.”
- A Breastfeeding Tip“For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.”
(Isaiah 66:11, NIV)
PRAYER: Dear El Shaddai, our all-sufficient “breasted one” who satisfies us with your consolations and delights us with your glory…may we always cry out to you when we are hungry! Thank you also for your perfect word to fill our hearts and enlighten our eyes. May we feed daily on the Bible just like the Israelites fed daily on the manna from heaven. May we never grow tired of meditating on your scriptures and—like Baby—always be hungering for another big swig of the Bible’s “sweet milk,” the perfect formula for health and growth!
THOUGHT: Are you breastfeeding? It’s often hard at first, especially for first-time moms, but it’s so good for Baby if you can manage it! Although you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to warm a bottle, you will likely have some trouble with sore nipples, blocked ducts, and leaking. Don’t despair. As with all of life’s trials, remember that they come to pass, not to stay, and your body will eventually adjust to the new demands and become more comfortable.
ACTIVITY: Some mothers have their babies nurse from only one breast at each feeding, but I believe it’s easier on your breasts if you nurse Baby on both sides each time but alternate which breast provides the first (and normally largest) drink of milk. Wearing a simple elastic bracelet (I used costume pearls) or a ring on your index finger can help you remember where you left off…just remember to change your jewelry as you change the side on which you’re nursing!