“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103
PRAYER: Dear God who sent down Christ as our Bread of Life fresh from your heavenly kitchen, and who gave us Christ to be a well of water in our soul, springing up into everlasting life…help us to feast on your bread and water of life! May the Word of God and the life of Christ be sweeter in our mouths than honey. May we open our mouths wide, trusting you to fill them with the finest of wheat and satisfy us with honey out of the rock.
THOUGHT: Whenever you go somewhere in the car, try to take a few minutes to prepare something to keep Baby entertained during your travel time. When infants are very young, the gentle movement of the car usually lulls them to sleep, but once they start being awake during part of your trips, prepare some car toys that can’t fall out of reach and will engage them during trips.
ACTIVITY: Plastic or cardboard books make for good traveling companions, especially if you can attach them with a cord to Baby’s seat. A small number of gadgets tied by sturdy shoelaces to dangle from Baby’s car seat will fascinate him too. Just make sure he’s closely supervised if there’s any chance of his pulling something off or choking on a string. Ideas? A rubber spatula or pancake turner; a roll of masking tape; a canning jar cap, a rattle, a metal bell, various sizes of measuring cups and spoons (the ones with holes in the end for hanging), any kind of small plastic pitcher or cup with a handle, a wooden spoon, or the cardboard tube from a roll of plastic wrap, etc. Make sure the toys are far enough away from Baby’s face so that they won’t hit him if the car stops suddenly.
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Thank you for many privileges and benefits we enjoy in our country. Thank you for governments and the attempt by people to provide for the common good. Please bless our nation, Lord. May those in authority look to you for guidance to bring peace and good will to men, so that we may all live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Help us also to be reconciled to God at all times and faithful ambassadors for Christ, studying to show ourselves approved unto God and worthy of the vocation you’ve called us to in Christ.
THOUGHT: Praying for your country is also a way of blessing your baby!
ACTIVITY: More travel tricks: If you’re sitting next to Baby in the car: try dangling a toy on the end of a shoelace. Move the toy slowly back and forth in front of Baby until he catches it. Once he catches a toy, untie it and let him play with it until he tires and needs a new toy. Then, dangle the next toy. This can also be done while you’re in the front passenger seat if you can reach around behind and get close enough to him or use a cardboard tube from a roll of plastic wrap with a string attached. Dangle the toy like bait at the end of a fishing line! See if you can’t catch your little fishy’s attention! Or, you can attach the toy to his car seat so he can play with it whenever he wants. A helium balloon (not so big it obstructs the driver’s vision) also makes a very fun toy to try to “catch.” (Always be wary with balloons, though, because they are choking hazards.)
“I laid me down and slept: I awaked: for the Lord sustained me.” Psalm 3:5
PRAYER: Thank you for rest! Thank you for the gift of sleep. Thank you for safety! We consider Jesus, asleep in the bottom of the ship during a raging storm. Dear Lord, may we rest safely in you while the gales of life sweep over our souls…safe and secure from all alarms…able to rise up—because we are alive in you—and quiet the storms when Baby cries out for help. We think of Jonah, asleep in the bottom of the ship, drifting further and further away from you. Wake us, Lord, when we try to run away from you! Shake us up and deliver us from ourselves, so that we return to you in trust, learning to abide in faith, hope, and love.
THOUGHT: We were on a family vacation when Aaron was at this stage, so it really made me consider traveling and how to keep peaceful in the midst of trying circumstances! If keeping Baby content during car rides hasn’t been much of an issue yet, just tuck these ideas away for now but remember them before your next trip!
ACTIVITY: On trips, you can give Baby a few more things to look at if you tape a picture to the seat right in front of his car seat. If you have several pictures cut from magazines or printed from the Internet, you could exchange them each time he wakes up. Or, if you bring some blank paper and crayons, you (or any other traveling companions) can draw him a new picture from time to time. Also, they now sell mirror systems for cars so the driver and Baby can see one another’s faces even though he’s in the back and you’re in the front. This is a great invention and really helps you know how Baby’s doing at any given time!
“And you will feel secure because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. You will lie down, and none will make you afraid.”
Job 11:18-19 (ESV)
PRAYER: Ah, Lord God, surely “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31). Even though we try so hard to make our baby safe and secure from every possibility of harm, we know we’ll fail. We are powerless to protect our baby from all that tragic things that could happen. Humbly, we ask you to help us to prepare as best we can and be as vigilant as we can, but also to trust in you, asking you to bring about the safe passage of our precious child from infancy to maturity, from recognizing his need for a Savior, to repentance, to faith, and to a life of walking in love and truth until you take him home to heaven.
THOUGHT: It is humbling but very reassuring to know that—despite our best efforts—it is ultimately God alone who can keep our precious children safe.
ACTIVITY: Playpens used well can be a marvelous blessing, but used poorly, they can be an oppressive hindrance to Baby’s growth. Once Baby is “on the move,” he will find a playpen frustrating and limiting. I saw one cartoon about a mother who said she loved her new playpen because her baby couldn’t get her while she was in it! I like that. We used our playpen to give Aaron a safe place to play while we were trying to have a tennis game or otherwise enjoy ourselves outdoors where we couldn’t watch him closely enough. But, truly we rarely used it except as a portable bed so he’d have a place to sleep when we were visiting grandparents, etc. Nevertheless, a portable playpen can be extremely useful in the right settings, so definitely consider getting one.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28
PRAYER: Gentle Shepherd, speak to us so that we recognize your voice and joyfully follow you. If any in our family are not yet part of your fold, please open all our hearts to your love so that we understand who you are, recognize our need for your salvation, and cry out to you to be our Lord and Savior both now and ever more. How much we need your tender care! Help us to remember always that once we have become your children, you give us eternal life and that we will never, ever perish or be taken out of your hand…no matter how hard we may try! Please bless Baby. Keep him ever in your care. May we watch over him as tenderly and vigilantly as you watch over us.
THOUGHT: Once Baby is distracted or frightened by noises, start explaining to him what’s going on. Help him understand our busy, amazing world so he can relax more.
ACTIVITY: If Baby hears thunder or is distressed by the sound of a door closing, dog barking, phone ringing, rainstorm, emergency vehicles going by…even children laughing at a beach…whatever—then name the sound! Speak in a confident, positive way, smiling so he understands that the sound is not distressing you. Try turning your i-pod and television on and off while he watches you so he understands where the sounds are coming from, as well as turning on and off any alarm clocks, the doorbell, the oven buzzer, or other electrical/mechanical items that produce sounds that can be loud and abrupt. If you can, let him touch the knobs that produce the sound and move his hands so that he can feel the “on” and “off” positions.
“As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything.” Ecclesiastes 11:5 (ESV)
PRAYER: Dear Creator of all that we see and of all that we cannot see, truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made! Thank you for Baby. We could never have built a baby! All we can do is act on our desire to have a child, and you take our miniscule offerings, combust them, and bring life out of them! You take aspects of each father and mother and create an entirely unique human being! You make the bones of the child grow within the womb as we wait in hope. How little we can do! We can pray, eat right, sleep, exercise, and try to love you and keep your commandments, but it is you who brings each baby to birth and causes him to develop into a whole, individual person! How amazing you are.
THOUGHT: Just like each child is unique, it’s fun to make each holiday unique and special too, even when Baby is too little to really understand your traditions.
ACTIVITY: We have a little Irish blood, so it was always fun to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. How about a game of “Green for a Day.” (“Queen or King for a Day” is also fun, so you might try that sometime too!) Dress yourself and Baby in green if you have any clothing with green (or red, or blue) in it. Make an effort to point out everything you see that’s that color. Tell Baby what it is, and then remind him that it’s green. We even used to try to eat green food, which can sometimes be a little ridiculous but still fun! There are lots of good vegetables out there that are naturally green and can be made into a good stir-fry. Of course, corned beef with cabbage and potatoes is the best for an authentic Celtic supper, but we’d keep in the green spirit by topping it off with a mint green grasshopper pie for dessert.
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.”
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, comforter, and guide. May we be quick learners, eager to understand your doctrines and walk in your truth. Thank you for the milk of the Word. Thank you for all the simple lessons that we can absorb even as babes in Christ. Thank you also for the deep truths and mysteries of life that we ponder and desire to understand throughout life. Thank you for being a God who is omniscient; we will never run out of fresh discoveries about you, because you are infinite! Please bless Baby with a heart to grow up and mature…to accept responsibility well, to be respectful and obedient. As Baby grows, help us to model appropriate responsibility, obedience to our Lord out of a heart of love, and a deep reverence for you. May Baby grow up eager to please you because she loves you so passionately!
THOUGHT: Double check with your pediatrician for approval, but once Baby has a tooth or two and is starting eating lessons, it might be time to let her work over a rice cracker or some such tasty treat that will dissolve easily and she can practice picking up and putting down again. All these things that we take for granted are arts to be mastered by your young princess!
ACTIVITY: An unsalted cracker or rice cake now and then, either as an appetizer to stave off starvation while you’re preparing a meal, or as a last course to keep Baby content while you’re cleaning up, can be a good thing.