Monthly Archives: July 2015

How to Keep Your Sandcastles from Crumbling

D B+SThis has been one of the greenest, most glorious summers I can remember Moms and babies playing along Lake Michigan Shoreline in Michigan, although that’s certainly in stark contrast to much of America, Enjoying Lake Michigan Shoreline and it resulted in Lake Michigan remaining cool well past Stephen’s birthday, Hoffmaster State Parkwhen we traditionally take a trip to Hoffmaster State Park. Testing the water with toes at Lake Michigan Shoreline So, we tested the water Ready to swim at Hoffmaster State Park but didn’t really swim this time, Playing on beach at Hoffmaster State Park although it was pretty much the perfect day Hiking the Lake Michigan Shoreline to hike along their 3-mile shoreline Kiting at Hoffmaster State Park until we found a quiet spot for kiting Barrier Wall for sandcastle at Hoffmaster State Park and building sand castles. Baby Sam checking out the sand at Hoffmaster State Park I love that even if you don’t always get to do what you think you’re going to do, Lounging at Hoffmaster State Park if you’re with people you love, whatever you end up doing is still tons of fun. Joel at the helm flying a kite at Hoffmaster State Park It’s really about love and companionship Talking at the beach at Hoffmaster State Park…talking, sharing, and experiencing the simple pleasures of life together, isn’t it? Baby playing in sand at Hoffmaster State Park Praise God for loved ones, big and small! Baby checking out sand at Hoffmaster State Park We don’t have to swim in a big lake; Wading pool at Hoffmaster State Parkwe can still have fun stomping in a pool! Watching Daddy Build Sandcastle Hoffmaster State Park We don’t need to live in a castle; Family Fun at Hoffmaster State Park it’s plenty of fun just working together building one in the sand! Plane flying by beach Family Fun at Hoffmaster State Park We don’t really need to fly off into the wild, blue yonder;Flying a kite at Hoffmaster State Park we can have a wonderful time flying a kite together instead! Building sandcastles along Lake Michigan ShorelineSo, it occurred to me that if you want to keep your sandcastles from crumbling, Daddy's Little Helper building a sandcastle at Hoffmaster State Parkit’s not so much in protecting your dreams There goes the kite at Hoffmaster State Park as it is in keeping your eyes on the real dream of life! Sandcastle at Hoffmaster State ParkAnd now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13

Views of the Zoo Through Child Eyes

The John Ball Zoo as Seen Through the Eyes of a ChildThere may be nothing more compelling to me than watching my grandchildren Lunch. Waiting for at John Ball Zoo(and our beloved children who interact with them) filled with delight  Asking about Great Apes at John Ball Zoo and puzzlement as they experience new things
and try to understand what’s happening. Penguins at John Ball ZooOne of the places that seems to provoke unending excitement and curiosity John Ball Statue at John Ball Zoois our very own menagerie, the John Ball Zoo. Fish at John Ball Zoo I used to be the one trying to educate my own kids, Fish. Watching fish at John Ball Zoo but now I just love hearing my kids explain things to their children: Chimps Kissing “The chimps are kissing each other! Isn’t that sweet?”  Wallaby John Ball Zoo. That’s a wallaby. He’s a little cousin to the kangaroos. They live in Australia. BongoThat’s a bongo! They’re the biggest sort of antelope and live in Africa,
like where Mama lived when she was a little girl.  Bears at John Ball ZooDo you suppose the bears are telling stories? What do you think they’re saying?Otters at John Ball ZooThe otters are just playing. Sometimes they like a bit of rough and tumble.Boys riding can zt John Ball Zoo.That’s probably not too different from the way little boys like it sometimes, too! Map of John Ball ZooI also love to watch the kids trying to share what they learn as they grow up a bit. Beetle ChartAaron’s boys are really into bugs, so they recognize some types of beetles now. Lions at John Ball ZooIt’s great to watch the kids teaching their younger siblings what they know, too! Lions go Roar at John Ball Zoo“Lions go RRRROARRRR!” (Note that Sophie refuses to be intimidated!)  🙂  Clubhouse at John Ball Zoo  At the John Ball Zoo, there are spaces for fun depending on how old you are Lunch. Pizza at John Ball Zoo…and places for fun no matter how old you are! Train Play John Ball Zoo. Because the zoo is constantly growing, there’s always something old to enjoy, Train at John Ball Zoo as well as something new to explore. Train down to entrance at John Ball Zoo Jon (my train lover) and his family had never ridden the tram before! Playing Drums at at John Ball Zoo There are certain “rights of passage” at the zoo, too! Camel Ride at John Ball Zoo Last time Amélie visited, she was too little to ride the camel,
but this year she was finally big enough…Petting the camel Playing Drums at at John Ball Zoo although Sophie still isn’t. She was only big enough to pet the camel! Goats. Petting at John Ball Zoo Thankfully, even the littlest folks can interact with the goats at the petting zoo Sheep being combed at the John Ball Zoo or brush the sheep’s fur. Budgies feeding at John Ball Zoo Probably one of the most exhilarating activities is  feeding the budgies. Budgie Feeding with Daddy at John Ball Zoo With a little help from parents to entice the budgies on to a stick of seeds, Budgies. Feeding a budgie nature lovers of all ages find it inexplicably pleasurable to interact so closely Feeding a budgie with some of God’s beautiful, unpredictable, wild and wonderful creations. Budgie on head! at John Ball Zoo Of course, it’s even more of a curiosity and marvel when they fly down Budgie in hair and try to decide if your head would make a good nesting site!Tiger at John Ball Zoo copyNobody who’s very big wants to get up and personal with the tigers, however!Tiger Exhibit No matter how young or old you are, some exhibits are always super impressive! Tiger. A Little Scary! Tigers don’t have to roar to be scary…all they have to do is walk up to you. Tiger at John Ball ZooI love seeing the differing reactions based on age and experience: innocent curiosity (Sophie),  boy bravado (age 5, trying to scold the tiger), tense assessment (age 7, ), and studied sobriety (age 9). Otters at John Ball Zoo copyEvery time I’m at the zoo, I’m reminded of how patient God is in teaching me. Pelicans. Baby watching at John Ball ZooThere are so many ways in which I’m still like a very small child spiritually! Goat fascination+15  7.8.15This universe is full of things I really don’t understand at all! Bear at John Ball ZooThere are dangers that I don’t fully recognize. Goats. Sharing the brush at John Ball ZooI am so thankful for those who are older and wiser and willing to share with me!

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Among the Lilies: Brianna’s Baby

Dan and BriannaYesterday I mentioned that Brianna (and my son, Daniel) served as photographers for a wedding last weekend, but today I want to share a precious story that Brianna wrote last week. Mother with Baby at Meijer Garden Those of you who know our family well have heard many stories about Samuel, their little miracle baby who was born at 27.5 weeks and had a huge struggle for survival. Dan and Brianna with Baby Sam He is now so round and sturdy that he reminds me of a little Winston Churchill (only immeasurably sweeter in disposition). But, without further ado, I’ll share what she wrote: Brianna with their Baby “364 days ago, I was eagerly anticipating/anxiously awaiting my first ‘normal’ pregnancy appointment ever… hoping to hear our baby’s heartbeat at the 10 week check-up, but scared that there wouldn’t be one. That same week, I watched the lilies fade in my backyard and wondered what would happen to the lone one that lay fallen over on the ground, unopened. The morning of my appointment, it blossomed in the dirt. My very favorite flower in the whole world- a stargazer. Daniel and I were delighted.  Baby with Star-gazer lilyI sometimes struggle with trusting that the Lord’s plan is good, even when it’s hard. What a sweet reminder from our Creator.  This morning the stargazer gave us this year’s bloom.

Baby and star-gazer lily “‘And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?…’
‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?’
                                                        – Matthew 6:27-30″

Happy Family; Happy Wedding in the Woods

Father and Bride 2Yesterday I was pondering the probability that parents who devoted themselves to their family, worked tirelessly, and lived joyfully might bring out the best in their children, Parents and friends of bride and groom and today I want to tell you about one family who—at least from my perspective over the past 30 years—has really been living out that reality! Our family at the weddingLast Saturday, the GR contingent of our family headed over to the Detroit area Bride and Groomto attend Melanie and Daniel’s wedding. BridesmaidsOur daughter was among the “sisters” who served as Melanie’s bridesmaids. Christmas ProgramThey’ve been great buddies since as long as any of them can remember.
(The two blonde girls with pigtails are Melanie and her sister, Jennifer; Kathy is between them, and my son Daniel is the baby in blue in front of Kathy.) Tea Party When Melanie’s little brother was born, the girls spent several days playing at our home, & tea parties always garnered a lot of attention from da brodders.Christmas Program at SBCBut, our friendship was extra special, because both families attended the same church…a little country church that felt like one big, happy family. Hunting Easter EggsWe celebrated all our holidays together: Christmas pageants,  Easter egg hunts, Picnic and a swim summer picnics and winter skating parties.Pig RoastEvery Fourth of July, there was a church-wide pig roast with fireworks and fun.Easter egg HuntNo matter what we were doing, Melanie’s parents were in the middle of the action, working really hard to make things super special and fun! Dinner at our homeI don’t think anything’s ever really changed in over 30 years…they’ve just kept on loving their kids and working their hearts out, being super parents! Father and BrideMelanie wanted her wedding in the woods. Wedding Chapel in Woods Dave told us he’s spent over 4 years working to clear out their woods, Back row Baptistsand I can’t begin to imagine how much time he spent building the venue! Wedding in the WoodsAs is typical of their family, everything was planned down to the last detail, Parking lot for weddingcomplete with chalk lines drawn in the grass for the parking lot Comic book wedding invitationsand incredibly  detailed, eight-page “comic book” programs!  Photographers eating a biteAt the dinner party afterward, Dona (Melanie’s mom) said to me, Scrumptious desserts “Kathy, you’d be so proud of me!  After the rehearsal dinner last night I went home and made all sorts of pies!” (And that’s not all; the meal was amazing!) Mother and brother of brideWell, Dona, I’m always proud of you, but now I stand in awe of you!
What an example to me you’ve been of unending, sacrificial love! Wedding PhotographerThe wedding was just great!  Brianna Brianna and Dan served as photographers (and my son Daniel) served as photographers. Wedding in the Woods. Exchanging VowsTheir wedding will always be memorable to me, partly because it truly was
one of the shortest…but also because it was also one of the sweetest!” Joel keeping Baby happyBaby Samuel was the only child in attendance (because Brianna’s still nursing), Grandpa keeping baby happy during weddingbut he was as good as gold and never made a peep! Cutting the cakeAfter the service, there was a wonderful dinner reception with all the usual excitement, like introducing the wedding party, cutting the cake, Maid of Honor's speech and the delivery of touching speeches about the wonderful couple (and they are)! Enjoying Speech of bride's fatherAfter the father’s speech, my sons commented on how playful Melanie’s father is, and how he makes everything fun. Decorating the carI think that’s been true for as long as I’ve known their family! Pig Roast. Roasted Pig!Their lawn games and pig roast brought back happy memories of “the good old days” when the kids were little. Baby reaching for cotton candy Life was always happy and full of joy…and they’re keeping that tradition going! 🙂 Presenting the bridal partyIt reminded me of the symphony from the previous day. Loving, working hard, keeping engaged, having fun…it’s all so important…for the entire family! Father of the bride speechKudos to Dave and Dona for a life spent loving their kids, Bride feeding cake to groom and congratulations to Melanie and Daniel,
who are still loving the Lord and serving him with all their hearts.Baby Riding piggy backYou’re an inspiration to me and everybody who knows you!Piggyback ride on Dad“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9)

The Piano Men Bring out the Best at GR’s Picnic Pops

The GR Symphony Picnic PopsJPGTrue Confession One: Last Friday morning I couldn’t have named 5 songs composed by either Elton John or Billy Joel. Picnic Pops True Confession Two: I totally loved going to the Picnic Pops last Friday night, Jim Witterwhere Jim Witter’s Piano Men—in concert with the GR symphony— John Varineau and Jim Witter brought the house down with their tapestry of ’70s classic hits by John and Joel. GR Symphony Picnic Pops Dinner We went early and enjoyed our usual awesome picnic dinner and lively conversations with dear friends. Elton John glasses at GR Symphony Picnic Pops Sue had the bright idea to bring us all outrageous sunglasses to commemorate Elton John, which we used with such enthusiasm that a lady from theMaking New Friends at Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Pops  symphony press asked permission to take a picture of us for their website. Lights at the Picnic Pops By the end of the evening, cell phone lights were bobbing above the expanse of audience like candles on the water… Fun at the Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Pops beacons emoting happiness from the sea of hearts
who were definitely feeling the love that night! Dancing in the aisles at Grand Rapids Symphony's Picnic Pops Some of the more free spirits were dancing in the aisles. Dancing Together at the Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Pops Some of the more romantically inclined were dancing with each other. Singing Most of us were smiling broadly…or singing along
(when we knew the music, which I didn’t for sure). The Piano Man  Lots of toes were tapping…mine for sure! Standing ovations at the Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Pops The end wasn’t really the end because people commenced with standing ovations until the musicians rewarded everybody with numerous encores. The End of a Great Evening at Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic PopsWe all agreed it was just a great evening, and since last Friday
I’ve been pondering what made it such a positive experience. GR Symphony Picnic Pops I’m sure the pleasant weather, excellent food, and big crowd set the stage, Elton John Glasses at the Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Pops and a lot of the pleasure was just in spending time having fun with dear friendsMeeting Old Friends at Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Pops (including making some new friends as well as renewing friendships with some we hadn’t seen for a long time)… The Piano Men at the Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Popsbut I think the biggest plus of all was that the musicians did a super job The Piano Men at the Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic Pops and truly seemed like they were enjoying themselves and the audience.Elton John fans at the Grand Rapids Symphony Picnic PopsWhen those leading are doing a great job, having fun and engaging others—
well, happiness is pretty contagious. LaughingI bet that would work in families too!

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.  And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4, NKJV)).

 

Rise Up, My Love (146): Whose Knock? Whose Voice?

Christ knocking at doorSong of Solomon 5:2 “It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled…” It is noteworthy that it was really her beloved’s voice, not so much his knock, that woke her. People do have distinctive knocks, and if you are used to a person’s knock—particularly if they always use the same rhythm and intensity—it is often easy to distinguish them…but not always. For example, I had seven children. My firstborn had a loud, insistent knock; my fifth born had a rapid, drum-like knock; and my last born had a gentle, quiet knock. These three boys remind me very much of the three billy goats gruff thumping across the bridge. The troll who lived under the bridge couldn’t tell the sound of the goats apart—but I lived with my little billy goats, and I could tell their thumpings apart. However, my other four children all knocked with an even, regular pattern…or else with some diversity based on mood…and so I couldn’t always guess which young person wanted my attention!

Voice, however, is a different matter. Each person knows the sound of his child’s—or his spouse’s—voice. Voices are unique, and even very similar voices (most often noticed when calling on the phone) can usually be distinguished after a moment’s thought. And, what about the voice of God?! How awesome in power…how beautiful in majesty! His voice roars out of Zion (Joel 3:16), and thunders like a mighty waterfall (Revelation 1:15); his voice is powerful and full of majesty, breaking cedars and dividing flames of fire (Psalm 29:4-7); but, sometimes it is a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12). Nevertheless, his voice is always recognizable: to the disobedient Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:8); to the faithful “friend of the bridegroom”—John—who “rejoiced greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice” (John 3:29); to an unbelieving Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4-5). When God speaks, his voice can be heard and known.

Still, not everyone will hear his voice, for Jesus witnessed to Pilate: “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37). But, Pilate did not truly hear his voice, because in the very next verse his response sounded out for the faithless of every generation: “What is truth?”

“I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me—” I believe this passage is speaking of Christ to his slumbering church, and I do not want to lessen the impact of his pleadings to those who are already his and drifting, but may I use it also to remind any unbeliever who might be reading these pages that God’s love and calling extends to you as well? The Lord says he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus called out to the people, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25). Will you hear and respond to the voice of “the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead” (Acts 3:15) and sent “to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26)?

The voice of God! Hear it and understand that it is true. Hear it and live! Hear his voice calling out to you: “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation” (Hebrews 3:15). Oh, sleeping saint—may your heart waken to the sound of his sweet voice! Oh, unbeliever, let his voice wake you from the sleep of death! Harden not your heart, but hear, believe, and live! The gospel message is true: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). What must you believe? “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: and that he was seen…” (I Corinthians 15:3-5).

Jesus’ love for us is an everlasting love…just as faithful and true and strong as it ever was. We fail him, but he never fails us. We ignore him, but he calls us still. Hear his wonderful, tender voice! Visualize him standing outside your heart’s door: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Hear him! Recognize his voice, and run to open the door!

 

Bless Your Baby: Ideas for Baby’s Fifth Month (21st Week)

Practicing Walking142. Helping Baby Practice His Moves

“When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.” Psalm 94:18

PRAYER: O LORD, thank you for your mercy, and for holding us up during countless occasions when we would stumble or fall were it not for your grace. Thank you also for helping us up when we do fall and setting us back on our feet. Thank you for making us flexible and resilient so that we do not usually break when we fall. Bless Baby with watchful parents. Help us to anticipate problems so we can avoid them like the wise man who sees the evil lying in wait ahead and hides himself. Thank you that your angels excel in strength, hearken to your voice, and obey your commandments. I pray that you would give your angels charge over Baby to keep him in all her ways, lest he dash his foot against a stone… or slip in the bathtub, suffocate, drown, or be injured in any accident!

THOUGHT: Babies are so flexible! Never try to increase your baby’s flexibility, but be sure to help him enjoy what naturally exists. Aaron got so he could catch his own toes and put them in his mouth. Babies love games, and if you can do something for Baby that you know he can also do for himself, he will probably find pleasure in having you help him sometimes, although—obviously—if Baby resists any of these motions or doesn’t seem to enjoy the game, then stop!

ACTIVITY: Ideas: take Baby’s hand gently and put it to his mouth, or take his hand and put it on his knee. Take his arms and cross them over each other across his chest. Take his arms, and if they’ll reach around his great, big head, let his hands touch each other over his head. While Baby’s sitting on your lap, you can lift his arms up and down in front of his body or gently bend his legs into the “frog kick” position. He’ll have fun feeling the slightly different sensations of your locomoting for him!

Caring for her nephew143. Coming and Going, but Never Forsaking

“Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me.” Psalm 38:21

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for the encouragement that Moses gave to Joshua: “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Lord, we want to claim that promise for our family. Thank you that you never fail or forsake your own, but that you go before us and lead us like a shepherd leading his sheep. May we always listen for your voice and follow you!

THOUGHT: A beloved babysitter is not only a great thing for you, it’s a very good thing for Baby and will teach her things and broaden her in ways that you cannot! Just make sure your babysitter is godly, honorable, kind, and trustworthy. We once hired the sister of a girl we knew and trusted (we were no longer living in Detroit at the time), but we found out later (after investigation) that the girl had been abused herself and was an unfit babysitter (she mistreated Aaron). Just being related to someone who is super doesn’t mean that the other person is super. Better to miss your date than take an unknown “second best” who may be worst.

ACTIVITY: Have you been out for a while? How about planning a date night? If you have a good sitter who obviously loves your baby and invests in him, great! If not, take the time to check with friends and find one. Let Baby experience a little taste of other caregivers from time to time. Just as the Lord never really leaves us, but there are times when we feel alone, so leaving Baby for a few hours will stretch him but help him learn that even when you’re out of sight, he’s never out of your mind, and you will return again. (The photo above is really of a beloved aunt, not a babysitter, but you get the picture! 🙂  )

Almost Asleep!144. Lullaby and Goodnight

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3

PRAYER: Abba, Father, we commit Baby to your tender care. Help him to find peace, rest, and secure sleep, trusting in you even before he’s old enough to understand or articulate his feelings. We ask that you will send your Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to brood over Baby. We know that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth who comes from you. May he testify of you to Baby, ministering to him, teaching him, awakening his little spirit to understand spiritual realities, and interceding for him with “groanings which cannot be uttered.” We know it is the Spirit that breathes life into our spirits so that we are born again. May your Holy Spirit, like a gentle wind, awaken Baby to a consciousness of you and a peace in your presence. May he believe in you from earliest times and eagerly seek and receive your salvation!

THOUGHT: Night awakenings and frights are common at this age. If Baby wakes up for no apparent reason and cries during the night, reassure him. He is probably developing what is called “separation anxiety,” which means he’s old enough to understand that mother is not always with him and feels frightened whenever she’s absent.

ACTIVITY: If Baby seems hard to comfort in the night, try singing and praying with him. If only nursing will calm him down, then let him nurse. There is a time for bravery, but it’s not when you’re an infant! Babies under a year old have no way of understanding anything beyond their primitive experiences, so lavish him with love and reassurance. If possible, leave Baby secure, content, and very drowsy, but not quite asleep sometimes, so that he learns it’s “okay” to be left alone.

So sweet!145. When Baby Cries and You Don’t Know Why…

“Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

PRAYER: Dear Father! You are all wise, all knowing, and always available. Your ears are always open to the upright in heart, and your mercy extends to the heavens to reach even those of us mortals who feel more downright than upright sometimes: downright confused, frustrated, and over our heads. We borrow thoughts from Solomon’s prayer: You have given us a precious child, therefore please give us understanding hearts, so that we may know how to respond wisely, for who is able to care for so valuable a child?

THOUGHT: How can you give a child all she needs without giving her all she wants until she becomes demanding and unpleasant? That is the million dollar question all parents would love to have answered by some magic genie who would promise to be available to them 24/7. Guess what? Every believer has someone wiser than a genie who is available 24/7 and promises to hear our pleas for help and grant us wisdom. What’s the answer to your baby’s current problem? I don’t know, but the Lord does!

ACTIVITY: Next time Baby cries for no discernible reason and nothing seems to help, try taking her into your arms and holding a little prayer meeting with her. If you have not already done so, dedicate your baby to the Lord. Tell him you acknowledge Baby as his child and know that you are simply God’s steward. Ask God to guide you into becoming the kindest, wisest, most loving parent you can possibly be. Ask God to help you make the best possible choices as you attempt to bring Baby up in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). And then, go forward in faith, trusting him to guide you.

Playing with hands146. Lifting Up Our Hands

“My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.” Psalm 119:48

PRAYER: Oh, Lord, thank you that Baby can lift up his hands! May I always be grateful for the things Baby can do, because some children cannot do even the simplest things. Lord, I lift up my hands and my soul to you! “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.” Bless Baby, dear Lord! Thank you for each tiny finger and hand. Thank you that Baby can lift up his hands and touch my face. May I always take joy in quiet, gentle communion with Baby, and even after all the children you may give us are grown, may our family always cherish time for affection and sharing love.

THOUGHT: Baby may or may not be too young to make a clear connection between what he touches and the name of the object, but he’ll sure learn faster if you start trying to teach him! When he reaches out his hand to touch something, tell him what it is!

ACTIVITY: How about a game of naming everything Baby touches? When Baby reaches for your eye, say “Eye!” and point to it yourself. When he reaches for your mouth, say “Mouth!” and point to it. You can also point to his mouth, eye, ear, face, cheeks, hair, etc., or your own hand, strap, breast, neck, etc. touching them lightly and saying what they are. When he reaches out with his little fingers, he is trying to explore you and connect with you, so be sure to understand his emotional need and meet him with gentle kisses or other soft communications while you’re playing this game. Teaching is fun, but loving is the best!

Baby with parents and Blanket148. Surrogate Mother Comfort

“I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:5

PRAYER: Dear Father, what an amazing privilege to have the sovereign of the universe as our refuge and strength…our “very present help in trouble!” So many times in the Bible you are praised for being our refuge, and we want to claim some of these wonderful prayers as we praise you: “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” “O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.” Bless Baby, dear Lord, may you be his refuge and defense during every experience in life. May he always feel secure and safe in your loving care.

THOUGHT: Usually the stage of acute separation anxiety doesn’t last too long, but it really helps if Baby can have some special object of comfort from home to keep him company and to help him feel more secure while in a strange place…even if the “strange place” is to visit relatives or your church nursery where he goes three times a week!

ACTIVITY: If Baby hasn’t clearly latched on to one favorite comfort toy yet, you might considering buying (or making) several identical such comfort items for routine washing and in case of loss. Teething rings, small, washable stuffed animals, or matching receiving blankets (clearly marked with Baby’s name) make good standbys. Make sure Baby has his reminder of home in his hands or wrapped around him when you leave, and make sure it’s back in his arms when you get ready to return home!

Cousin Love148. Correction to Arrive at Balance

“O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” Psalm 6:1

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for correcting us when we go astray. Although it hurts to be chastened, we know that you do it because you love us and for our good. May your Spirit bless Baby with a meek and gentle spirit. Bless us, too, Lord. Help us to be discerning parents, knowing just how and when to respond to each of Baby’s cries. May your spirit of sweet reasonableness direct all the interactions in our home.

THOUGHT: God loves us all the time, but he corrects us and stretches us—at times painfully—to make us more like Christ. I believe one important goal for us as parents is to train our children to desire to please God: “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20). “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).

ACTIVITY: Train Baby to be reasonable! I realize this is a life work and not one day’s activity, but maybe today would be a good day to take stock of how Baby is developing emotionally. If you have an infant who chronically howls for attention, prayerfully try to understand what his true need is. Is his need reassurance of your love, or does he need to learn to occupy himself for a few minutes? Obviously lots of fun and stimulation is largely good for your child. On the other hand, there’s a certain amount of retraining that inevitably has to occur if Baby has gotten used to constant attention, because as a busy mother, you have some work you really need to do every day in order to keep an orderly and peaceable home. Pray for the wisdom you need to balance your responsibilities.