- Giving and Receiving Love Gifts“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.
- A Carnival for Three“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.
- Ideas for a Photo Op with Friends“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!
- Taking a Stand“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.
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.
- Praying for Grace to Endure Exhaustion“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!
- Access and Adjust“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! 🙂 )
- Emergency Measures for When Mom’s Sick“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).