Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Week 35)

Playing with Mom240. Rewarded for Seeking

“And ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

PRAYER: Oh God, you are the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity. Though we know you, yet we know so little about you! We worship you because you are infinite. Thank you that no matter how hard and long we try, we will never discover all there is to learn about you. Help us to seek you with all our hearts, and may we find out more and more about you daily as we meditate on your word and learn to walk in your spirit.

THOUGHT: Even though Baby may be off and crawling, he will still love games where he is held. Every once in a while when Baby comes to you, try rewarding him by swooping him up in your arms, giving him a big hug and kiss, and playing a little game with him. It will only take you a couple of minutes, but it will be just another opportunity for you to express love and interest in your child. If you’re super busy, try putting him down in front of some fascinating toys after you’re done.

ACTIVITY: Here’s one called Tick Tock. Hold Baby in front of you while you say: “Tick tock, tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock.” (Swing Baby back and forth in time with chanting.) “Tick tock, tick tock, now I’m striking one o’clock! (Continue swinging Baby in rhythm.) “Dong!” (Sound like a heavy clock tower chiming and lift Baby high up in the air.) This can be repeated with “two o’clock” and “three o’clock.” It is said that starting over with one o’clock is more effective at this age than actually going all the way to twelve o’clock, simply because babies can learn to discriminate up to three of anything but normally not more. After three, items just become a “bunch.” So, repeating “one, two, three” several times will teach Baby more than counting to ten.

Chubby Cheeks!241. Building a Foundation for Mentoring

“But whoever hearkens unto me shall dwell safely,
and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:33

PRAYER: Oh wise Counselor, teach us the ways of wisdom. Help us to be obedient to you. May my family dwell safely and be quiet from the fear of evil. I declare with Joshua of old, “As for me and for my house, we will serve the Lord!”

THOUGHT: Playing with Baby is an excellent way to begin a lifelong mentoring relationship. As Baby learns to enjoy activities and learning from you, he will all the more naturally turn to you for advice and wisdom later on. This is a huge responsibility and privilege, but rest assured that God very intentionally entrusted your little one to you!

ACTIVITY: Another car game that teaches memory and anticipation is using a puppet that appears over the seat. If Daddy is driving and you are sitting in front of Baby, bring a little hand puppet. When Baby gets fussy, call to him, “Baby!” and about three seconds later make the puppet appear over your right shoulder. Let the puppet talk to him for a minute or sing a little song and get his attention before disappearing. Then call, “Baby!” again, and have the puppet appear over your right shoulder after another three-second delay. Do this several times, and if you have a mirror on your visor, check to see if Baby starts looking over your right shoulder when he hears, “Baby!” even before the puppet appears. Once he has learned to anticipate where the puppet will appear, change, and let the puppet appear over your left shoulder, or over your head, or around the edge of the seat. Each time, let the puppet appear from the same place two or three times and see if Baby can learn to anticipate the future a little. (This game also works fine at home, but it just happens to be a good car trick, and car tricks are harder to come by!)

Baby in the sand242. Sand Play

“The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.” Psalm 95:5

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making the sand along the seashore. Thank you for every building block on earth, from mountains to microscopic molecules of sea and sand.

THOUGHT: If you have a clean beach anywhere, sun-warmed sand makes a soothing, fascinating play area and has great potential for crawling, digging, rolling, shaping, and best of all: eating. Actually, I always worried that one of the kids would choke to death on sand, but they never did! Inevitably, Baby will experiment, and that means putting some sand in his mouth, but just say, “Yukky!” and make a face. Sand doesn’t taste good to Baby either, so usually one or two trials are enough to convince him that leaving sand off the picnic menu is okay. Eating SandACTIVITY: If you don’t have a beach handy, you can make a tiny sandbox in a dishpan and set Baby and sandbox outside on the grass for an afternoon adventure with you. Dirty sand can be harmful for Baby’s delicate lungs, so test your sand by stirring a spoonful in a glass of water. If the water remains cloudy, there’s too much dirt in it to be safe. If you don’t mind the cost and mess, a box of cornmeal can be substituted, although Baby may decide he likes the taste of this kind of “sand!” Sit with Baby and play with him. Run the sand through your fingers. Fill a cup with the sand and pour it out. Teach him the concepts of “fast” and “slow,” and work with him on the ideas of “full and “empty.” Add a little water and make some sandy-mud pies or build a drip castle or bucket-shaped mountain. If you have any little matchbox cars, build a roadway and run your cars on the “race track.” Dabbling in sand is a marvelous way to spend some creative playtime!

Baby looking up243. Playing Games: I’m a Little Teapot

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Matthew 7:7

PRAYER: Oh Great God, we bow before you, acknowledging you as our Lord, Savior, and Master! Thank you that you are all these things as well as our tender, merciful father and friend! Thank you that you have time for us and room on your lap anytime of the day or night. Help me to be inspired by your availability, and help me to be open to Baby’s needs for fellowship and fun.

THOUGHT: Children can spend seemingly endless hours playing with their parents without ever appearing the least bit bored! However, parents sometimes run out of bright ideas for games. Try keeping a list of the games that Baby really enjoys.

ACTIVITY: Don’t forget the very simple children’s favorite, “I’m a Little Teapot.”It’s great fun, although Baby may have to be a little older to really catch on and imitate the motions with you:

“I’m a little tea pot, short and stout”
(Stand with your hands on your hips swaying back and forth)

“Here is my handle”
(Left arm out while leaning to left and then back to position on hip)

“And here is my spout!”
(Lean to right, extending right arm into position like a spout pointing down)

“When I get all steamed up, here me SHOUT!”
(Cup both hands over mouth while shouting “SHOUT!”)

“So tip me over and pour me out!”
(Lean to left and then way over to right)

Trucks and Babies244. Enjoying Life with Father

“Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” Psalms 89:26

PRAYER: Dear God above, thank you for being my God, my father, and the rock of my salvation. Please bless Baby, dear Lord, and give him faith to believe in you so that he will become your child too, just as soon as he’s old enough to understand who Jesus is and how he lived and died to save us from our sins. Help us to be quick to repent when we sin and quick to trust you to deliver us from every dangerous situation. We adore you, Lord! Thank you for being such a great father to us!

THOUGHT: Playing with Mama is the staff of life for Baby’s soul, but playing with Daddy is like eating cake! Since my husband was in medical school and residency during my first four kids’ early years, he had to study long hours after supper, but he always tried to find a little time to play. Also, once my firstborn got big enough to figure out where his father was studying, he’d crawl right off to the bedroom to fetch him, singing a little to himself as he went. As Alan and Aaron proved, if the father will spend a little time playing with his son every day, he will be richly rewarded by having a son who really loves him!Playing with a "Box"ACTIVITY: A big, empty box turned on its side is an awesome toy at this age. Call your local grocery, furniture, or appliance store, and usually you can track down someone who will be happy to save a big box for you. (If you have to fold it down to get it home, you can reconstruct it later). At this stage, you don’t even have to decorate, but if you want to, draw some faces or make a mural, or you can cut out some windows and decorate it like a barn or house.

Pumpkin PlayNinth Month

  1. Becoming More Skillful in Handling Things

“Every one that uses milk is not skillful in the word of righteousness:
for he is a babe.” Hebrews 5:13

PRAYER: Dear Father, I am not as skillful in handling the Word of God as I would like to be. Please inspire me to a deeper study of your word, and help me to trust in the rightness of the Bible in the midst of a culture that runs so contrary to your truths. As it declares in Psalm 7:9, you are “the righteous God.” Please try my heart and establish justice in me. Help me to lead Baby into the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake.

THOUGHT: Buying jars of baby food is very convenient, but if you have the time and energy to make your own, you can just grind up supper and save any leftovers in small plastic containers for breakfast or lunch the next day. Be sure whenever you warm up food to test a tiny bit on the palm-side of your wrist. Mother fingers are too tough to make adequate thermometers for food, bottle, or bath, but the inside of the wrist is tender and a better indicator of what will be pleasingly warm for Baby (always think warm, never hot!).

ACTIVITY: While Baby is waiting for his supper, here is a great game: Take a silk scarf or piece of brightly colored cloth and stick it in an empty tissue box. Set the box in front of Baby. If he doesn’t figure out what to do, demonstrate by pulling the scarf out and then stuffing it back in. This game can also be done by stuffing the scarf into an empty waxed paper or plastic wrap tube (although Baby won’t be able to stuff it back in). Stuff most of the scarf into the tube, leaving just a tiny bit hanging out for Baby to grab and pull!

Happy Halloween!

Cricket with a Jack-o-lanternTomorrow many Americans with their parade of little ones will celebrate Halloween Baby“Halloween” by dressing up and going round about their neighborhoods
saying “Trick or Treat” in hopes of garnering a stash of candy.Aaron's family   In fact, there are lots of parties going on around the country right this minute! Robinettes We used to sponsor “Harvest Parties” to give our youth groupScarecrowsthe fun of costumes and treats minus the connotation of spooks and tricks, Halloween Decorations at Fort Wilderness but whatever you’re doing for fun this weekend, I thought it might be worth considering what Halloween, “Hallowed Evening,” was originally intended to be. All-Saints It’s a special “holiday” (“holy day”) to commemorate
the lives of all the saints (known and unknown) who’ve gone before us.

Pumpkins at Meijer Garden 10.15 This hallowed evening begins at sunset on October 31, which is the night before “All Saints Day” (November 1) and continues until sunset on that special “holy day.” In other words, from October 31 at sunset until November 1 at sunset, we are given 24 hours to contemplate and honor the lives and deaths of those now departed saints who lived their lives by faith in God, devoted to the work of Christ, which was to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). 

Ghosts So, Halloween wasn’t intended as a night to pretend we’re witches, goblins, ghosts or ghouls. It’s a night to commemorate and celebrate all the saints! On the wagon! Whatever festivities we enjoy this beautiful autumn weekend, Family at Robinettes I hope we take a little time to consider the lives of those faithful pilgrims of God who have gone before us, some of whom gave their lives so that we could have the heritage of a country where we are free to learn about and imitate Christ. A Gathering of the grand kids at Robinettes As Paul taught us: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 11:1) Feeling Grandpa's Beard
“Find Us Faithful” (—by Jon Mohr, 1987)

“We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road,
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful,
encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace.

“Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize,
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives.

“After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift though all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover
And the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find.

“Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”

Cricket Behind Jack-o-lantern(The charming photos of the little dog, Cricket, and the jack-o-lantern belong to Anna Groves and are used by her permission; the group photos are from a trip to Robinette’s with my daughter-in-law Brianna’s sweet family. Thanks to you all!)

Wild and Worrisome Sights at a Tunisian Zoo

Camel drinking coke at a Tunisian Zoo It seems that at every zoo, I learn something new. For instance, on our trip to Tunisia, I discovered that camels love coke. And, why not? Most people do, too. Camel at a Tunisian ZooSome say that Coke’s logo is the most recognized brand name around the world.
Sad and scary thought, isn’t it (especially considering it has no nutritive value)? Kathi beside Bouganvillea At any rate, I love zoos. Do you? Mason with a hibisicus For those of us who lack the leisure and lattitude
to trek the world in search of exotic animals, Tunisian Zoo Fennec Fox zoos give us insight into the vast and unique range
of creatures God has designed to dwell with us on Planet Earth. Pigs Tunisian Zoo Many animals seem lovable and are common on every (non-iced) continent, Ostrich Tunisian Zoo …or at least common enough so that folks everywhere recognize them, Lycaon pictus. African Wild Dog Tunisian Zoo but some animals (like the colorful African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus)
seem quite foreign to those of us who live in temperate zones. Tunisian Zoo CoyoteThe Tunisian zoo we visited showcased the animals of North African deserts. Monkey at a Tunisian Zoo The most exciting “plus” for this zoo
was that we didn’t just have to look sadly through the bars of the cages. at a Tunisian Zoo 2 When some little fellow wanted to reach out to us, at a Tunisian Zoo 3we could pass a little love back to him! Scorpion at a Tunisian Zoo Not all of the residents were quite so  friendly or innocuous, however. Scorpion being held at a Tunisian Zoo Some of them were downright disagreeable and dangerous, Scorpion hanging on to cigarett box at a Tunisian Zoo and these could only be handled with extreme care by our zoo guide,
who’d had years of experience working with deadly critters. Sidewinder at a Tunisian ZooThe Saharan horned viper carries up to 13 venom fractions,
and our guide said that while a scorpion sting might kill you, Horned Desert Viper at a Tunisian Zoo one bite of this deadly rattler could kill your mother-in-law in under 10 minutes.
(There might have been implications implied…) 2 lizards at a Tunisian Zoo Our zoo guide also taught us the difference between toxic and nontoxic lizards, Kathi holding lizard at a Tunisian Zooand he let those of us with more tactile curiosity than tacit antipathy hold them. Shannon with snake at a Tunisian ZooOur last experience was playing with snakes. Some declined the offer,
but most of us at least wanted to try on a snake “just for size.”  Snake at a Tunisian Zoo I couldn’t help but reflect on how foolish it would be for us to play with unknown species of desert snakes without being invited and supervised by an expert. Silas with a snake at a Tunisian ZooHow like all our experiences in life! If God invites us to do something, and we’re following His instructions, we can trust that He intends it for our good, to teach us something that will deepen our character and make us more like Christ. Holding snake at Tunisian zooGot any challenges in your life that are out of your comfort zone but you feel God is calling you to try? The entire trip to Tunisia was like that for me, but it was an unforgettable learning experience. I wouldn’t trade it despite all its challenges! Mountain Goats at a Tunisian Zoo“The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (Habakkuk 3:19).

Do You Know Heaven is Waiting? Have You Seen It?

Heaven is WailingAlan and I have now have 6 close friends on our daily prayer list who are grieving the loss of their lifetime mate.  That’s about 6 times as many as we knew 6 years ago, and prospects for the future are not looking up. This morning I had the rather dubious honor of signing up for Medicare…proof positive that I’m reaching the esteemed age of senior citizen, which (at least in our country) isn’t cause for anything more cheery than black frosting. However, there have been a few bright spots lately as we muse our way through our sixties, and one has been the gently humorous romantic drama just released this year under the title Heaven is Waiting. It’s actually the (fictitious) story of “Ned,” a 43-year-old who has been grieving the loss of his wife for 3 years but still isn’t ready to move on… Heaven-Is-Waiting-2although his daughter is more than ready for him to move on so that he’ll let her grow up! In the movie, Ned’s deceased wife, Kate, talks to him and gives him good advice, which some viewers find offensive, but I don’t! Ned isn’t “conjuring” her up; she just appears. In fact, most of the people I’ve known closely who’ve lost their mates do find themselves talking to their beloved MIA partners every now and then…you know…just to run ideas by them. If we talk to ourselves, why can’t we talk to a loved one who’s not present?  Is that any different from asking yourself, “What would Father think?” (or whoever you used to go to for advice when you were little)? Of course, ultimately, the best advice comes from asking our Father, who art already in heaven waiting for us. He’s the only One who knows when and how to lead us past grief ruling paramount into living freely in the present again. But, that takes a long time, no matter how young or old.

Heaven in Waiting 3Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” (Isaiah 30:21, NIV)

Stellar Star Wars Sites in Tunisia

Star Wars ManiaWith the imminent release of Stars Wars 7, The Force Awakens,
promised for this December, Star Wars mania is practically out of control! Star Wars Stuff When we were at Disney World last week, you could buy just about anything imaginable (or unimaginable) at the Disney stores, Tatooine and it reminded me that while we were in Tunisia we saw several Star Wars sites.Hotel Sidi Driss 2 In fact, did you know that 5 out of 6 Star Wars movies  Sidi Bouhlel were partially filmed in southern Tunisia, Sidi Bouhlel 4 and Sidi Bouhlel Sidi Bouhlel 6 (aka “Star Wars Canyon”) Sidi Bouhlel 9 was also used in filming some scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark Sidi Bouhlel 5 and The English Patient. Hotel Sidi Driss Lunch We had a very exotic but pleasant lunch at the Hotel Sidi Driss, Hotel Sidi Driss 1 but if you want, you can stay there Hotel Sidi Driss 6 for $12 per night Hotel Sidi Driss 3 and meet up with fellow Star Wars aficionados Hotel Sidi Driss 5 and various other intergalactic forces Hotel Sidi Driss 4 at the site of the Star Wars bar (or so I’m told). Sahara in a 4-wheel One afternoon, after a rollicking ride through the Sahara in a 4-wheel drive, Tatooine we pulled up to Tatooine for a saunter through the streets. Tatooine 3I have to say, even though I’m not very familiar with the Star Wars movies, Tatooine 11it was a real blast to walk around this very famous “set,” Tatooine 8and I really wished my son-in-law, Carl (who loves all things Star Warian), Tatooine 12 could have been there to see everything too! Tatooine5 Nevertheless, I was consoled to know that Carl has chosen the better part! Tatooine 14Tatooine isn’t some place you’d really want to live. Tatooine 15 It’s just a set. A facade with no heart or home within. Tatooine 4 Carl, on the other hand, works every day at a wonderful church. Tatooine 2 What could be better than that?Tatooine              Psalm 84: “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! Tatooine 9 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord:
my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Tatooine5
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. Tatooine 13 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. Pools of water in Tunisia Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well;
the rain also filleth the pools. Tatooine 7
They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. Tatooine 10 10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Tatooine 6 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory:
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”

Streams in the Desert

Rocky Wilderness of TunisiaOn our trip to discover the heart of Tunisia, Tunisian Hills. Gold we traveled across 800 miles of golden deserts under a dome of deep blue sky. Tunisian Hills. 2 Despite my appreciation for maize and blue (being U. of Michigan’s colors), Desert Land of Tunisia I found the barrenness of the desert even more oppressive than the heat. Tunisian Wilderness Where was the green? Where was the cool, blue water? Lake Superior As one who grew up amongst the woodlands and 60,000+ lakes of Michigan, Home Sweet Home to me green+blue=life+comfort. Wilderness in we traveled across 800 miles I found myself marveling that people could surviveBarrenness of Tunisia—or ever figure out how to navigate across—such wilderness terrain. Climbing the hills in Tunisia Our guide understood this basic craving in the heart of man for signs of life, Climb to spring in Tunisia so one afternoon he took us on a hike to the source of a small spring. Tunisian Desert Area It was a very hot day, and a relatively hard climb, Tunisian Hills. Climb but it was so dry that our sweat evaporated almost as soon as it surfaced Dry Riverbed in Tunisia.…leaving us very thirsty. Mountain Goat Tunisia However, our efforts were wonderfully rewarded. Source of Spring in Tunisia High up in the rocky hills was a tiny stream of water flowing out of the rock. Stream descending from mountain in Tunisia To me, it looked like just an insignificant trickle, Stream of Water in Tunisia but it was steady, and it was precious. Stream in the Desert of Tunisia The Tunisians in the area had gone to great pains to protect the spring Channel for stream in Tunisian Desert by carving out a channel into the stone so the water could flow Stream broadening out in Tunisian Desert without obstruction down to the village that had grown up in the oasis below. Stream in the Tunisian Desert In fact, over the years, the Tunisians were carefully expanding the oasis Palms planted by stream in Tunisia by planting more palms, which trapped more moisture and promoted life. Oasis Pool. Tunisia I was astonished to discover that so small a stream in the desert Tunisian Hills could make life possible for such a large village, but I should not have been. Water in Tunisia After all, Jesus does exactly that for each of us who come to him. Tunisian Hills. Dry riverbed This may not make sense for those who haven’t found Him yet, Rock and Palm in Tunisia  but Jesus is the Rock out of whom flows a river of living water to provide life and health for everyone who puts their faith and trust in Him. Beautiful pool in Tunisia “For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.  And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water.” (Isaiah 35:6-7) Tunisian Stream in Desert Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me,
and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
(John 7:37-38)

(I took all the pictures in Tunisia this summer, except for the two pictures of Michigan and our lake.)

Rise Up, My Love (159): Abusive Policemen?

SS 159. 10.24.15 Searching at NightSong of Solomon 5:7 “The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.” The watchmen were those paid to guard the city and see that all was safe and well…the policemen of Jerusalem…doubtless sworn to the allegiance and protection of their sovereign king! And yet, it is the king’s own wife that they abuse. (Indeed, in the New Testament we find the watchmen abusing the king’s own son!) How could it be that such men were so unfaithful and cruelly wicked?

Some rationalize by saying that such a woman out at night could be mistaken for a prostitute. That I do not doubt, but does that give the watchmen a right to mistreat her? First, if they had stopped to listen to her, they would have known she was not a prostitute. Second, even if she had been a prostitute, that would not have given them the freedom to be evil themselves. No one has the right to abuse another person. It is the responsibility of the government to punish sin, but only according to the prescription of the law, not by terrorism, derision, and unauthorized beating and humiliation.

The watchmen were those who should have helped her, protected her, and shown her the right way to go. Each of us who is a believer is a watchman for the Lord. What is it that the Lord requires of us? The answer is abundantly clear in Ezekiel 33:7. “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” We are to listen to God’s Word and warn those around us to forsake wickedness and walk in truth.

What would a faithful watchman have done had he found the Shulamite out wandering the streets at night in search of her husband? If he had known the king’s whereabouts, the watchman might have safely escorted her to the king. But, if the watchman did not know where to find the king, then it would seem his duty (given that he was in the service of the king and his wife) to aid her in her search.

Isn’t that what we should do as faithful servants of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ? When we see a wandering, struggling one (a child of God who is part of the “bride of Christ”) out in the dark searching for him, how do we respond? Do we say within ourselves, “How horrid! That person is an embarrassment to our community and could easily be mistaken for a prostitute (or whatever…fanatic …Pharisee…fool…you name it).” Do we turn our backs on those who have fallen, or worse yet, ridicule and abuse them, uncovering their shame and tempting them to despair of ever finding that which will satisfy the longing of their hearts…their lover and friend?

Can’t you just hear the mocking watchmen? “Sure, you’re the king’s wife! The king’s wife wouldn’t humble herself to be out running around in the middle of the night! She’d be home, or she’d have an entourage with her. She’d send a messenger out after the king…”

Can’t you just hear the self-righteous Christian? “Are you sure you’re really a Christian? Real Christians aren’t supposed to be self-indulgent and sinful!”… “If you hadn’t been so lazy and disobedient, you wouldn’t have gotten into this mess to begin with.”…“Real Christians don’t run around acting like such undignified and inappropriate fanatics!” Stop! This isn’t what God wants! “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1)

I wonder, do we know where Christ is? Do we know him well enough to know where he may be found so that we can tenderly lead the repentant wanderer back to him? If not, do we at least have enough loyalty to the king…enough integrity and courage…to take a reckless one under our wing and help in the search? “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth” (Jeremiah 5:1).

Oh, dear believer, if you are walking close to the Lord and know where he may be found, do not shun or persecute those who are confused and stumbling in the dark! Come to their side with the wonderful lamp of God’s Word in your hand and lead them back to the light! Be a faithful watchman, hearing the Word of God and warning those round about you.


Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Week 34)

Standing up by riding toy233. Overcoming Fears and Learning to Help

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Proverbs 3:25-26

PRAYER: What a great and mighty God you are, Holy Father. We see how the children of Israel were afraid of you when you made the mountain smoke and the thunder roar. And yet, Moses was able to commune with you as friend to friend until his face shone. Please bless us, Lord, with such a deep love and faith in you that we are not afraid of “sudden fears” but rather look to you with radiant faces, knowing you’ll help us.

THOUGHT: Although babies are usually afraid of loud noises until they understand them, most children adjust to the sounds of household appliances after a few months, and it’s amazing how young a baby will want to “help.” They seem programmed from birth to imitate. Before Aaron was a year old, he wanted to help run the washing machine and dryer, wash dishes, clean walls, sweep, vacuum… whatever he saw me do. “Dan the Man” had a passion for vacuum cleaners and wanted to “zapuggy” (“the plug;” he wanted to plug the vacuum in and run it) from the time he could walk and talk!

ACTIVITY: If you have the money, this might be a perfect time to invest in a few pieces of imitation equipment, such as a vacuum push toy that makes a popping sound as it’s pushed along or an imitation lawnmower. Sometimes a child will learn to walk more quickly with something to push—like a baby shopping cart, or a stroller (with the brake slightly depressed), or even a chair on a rug that slides easily across the kitchen floor. Have you got something light enough but safe for Baby to push around while he practices learning to walk? If not, a warm hand or two is always the best anyway!

Look what I have!234. Uncovering What Was Hidden

“There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” Luke 12:2

PRAYER: Dear Father or Lights, thank you for your Holy Spirit, who searches our hearts. Please open my eyes so that I will confess and forsake all evil. Please train my mind to focus on you. Don’t let me stray into idle daydreaming about anything that isn’t a legitimate part of my life, remembering that “godliness with contentment is great gain.”

THOUGHT: Teaching Baby to recognize repeat patterns is a good thing. Once Baby gets sophisticated with peek-a-boo, here’s another game that will help her improve her memory and teach her more about anticipation.

ACTIVITY: Teach Baby to anticipate which hand will hold the prized food by picking up some small tasty treat off the tray in front of her with your right hand, then putting both your hands behind your back briefly. Bring them back out in front, but fisted, so that she can’t see which hand holds the snack (cheerio, banana, etc.). If she doesn’t know what to do, open both hands flat and let her take her prize. Repeat the procedure enough times until she learns to anticipate that the prize will be in your right hand. Once she’s got that down, try it with the left hand until she learns to make the change and open the left hand first. On another occasion, once she’s learned that the hand that picks up the cheerio holds it, you can vary the game by changing the prize or alternating hands, even behind your back. The important thing to remember is to establish a pattern and repeat it until she figures it out. Don’t just randomly change each time. Be sure to give her lots of cheering and clapping each time she succeeds in solving the mystery!

Ball Play in Water235. Roll, Don’t Throw

“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” Psalm 47:1

PRAYER: Father, thank you for giving us hands. Please bless Baby. Help him to become coordinated and able. May we use our hands to bring glory and joy to you.

THOUGHT: At this stage, Aaron loved to play a game of throwing a washcloth off his highchair tray for us to retrieve. At the time, Dad and I thought it was funny and would laugh, which would reinforce his behavior. However, resist the temptation to encourage any kind of a throwing game that you might not enjoy on a routine basis. Balls to play withACTIVITY: Perhaps a better game would be to start working with Baby at ball. Sit opposite him on the floor with your legs open in a wide V (to make it easier to catch the ball). Use a ball that is big enough for him to grasp easily (like a four-to-six inch diameter plastic ball from the grocery store). If both parents are available, demonstrate several rounds of having Dad and Mom rolling the ball back and forth between each other. You can also try demonstrating the game by having Dad say, “Roll the ball to Daddy,” after he’s rolled it to Mama, and visa versa, so Baby also gets to hear the command and can begin to get some idea of what “Roll the ball” means. Then, gently roll the ball so it lands between Baby’s legs right in front of him. After he’s had a chance to check it out, say, “Roll the ball to Mama (or Daddy)!” If he still doesn’t have a clue what to do, reach over and help him roll it, saying, “Good!” Quickly send it back to him and see if you can get him to push it or throw it back to you. If he doesn’t want to give up the ball, and the game just seems to frustrate him, then wait a couple of weeks and try again. If you make it fun and give him lots of approval, it won’t take many tryouts before he’ll make the team.

Music Maker!236. Making Rainshine

“The darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” Psalm 139:11-12

PRAYER: Dear Father of Lights, thank you that even when it’s gloomy outside, there is no darkness dwelling in you. Thank you that you are the essence of light. Thank you that your vision is even better than infrared! The darkness and the light are both alike to you! You can see through anything. Please help us to be children of light, to love the light, to come to the light and walk in the light.

THOUGHT: What can you do on a stormy day when you can’t get outside and you and Baby both have cabin fever? It’s always such a relief when Baby will amuse himself for a little while and give you some space to either work or relax. Here are two ideas for objects to put in Baby’s hands to help occupy him:

ACTIVITY: Pushing a chair around the kitchen floor is a good game. If you don’t want the floor scratched, tie old rags or pieces of felt to the bottom with rubber bands. If you’re going to be sitting anywhere for a few minutes with Baby in a playpen beside you, how about investing in a another musical instrument? Have you seen a “rain stick”? It’s a long piece of wood (or plastic) with tiny seeds or beads sealed inside that make a soft rattling sound almost like rain falling when the stick is turned from end to end. Once Baby gets the hang of how to turn the stick upside down, he may be fascinated by making it “rain” for a long time. It also makes a great diversion when you have to be inside in spring due to inclement weather. Then, you can have rain inside and out!

Baby with Cup237. Reverting to Nursing

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” Hebrews 5:12

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for your great patience with us as we struggle to walk in the Spirit. May we learn to be consistent in goodness. Forgive us when we start to stray away, and draw us back to yourself. Please help me to be patient with Baby too, as he struggles to grow up. Help me to encourage him continually toward maturity.

THOUGHT: Most of us find that life has a “two steps forward, one step back” rhythm, so why should we be surprised when Baby reverts back to an earlier stage for a while? Remember pregnancy? For most mothers, morning sickness came and went, but not all at once. I can remember thinking, “Whew! That’s all past me,” and then in a few days I’d feel sick again. But, maybe not as sick, and probably not for as long. So it is with our spiritual life in Christ, and so it is with Baby! We make progress, and then we regress. The happy reality for most of us is that we keep trying and growing. May we extend patience to our little one as he struggles to grow up, just as our Lord does for us. Sharing a Cup ACTIVITY: Try a “give and take” imitation game that might encourage Baby to be willing to eat real food if he’s reverted to just wanting to nurse. Try playing with two empty cups, one for you and one for him. Pretend to drink out of the cup and see if you can get him to pretend to drink out of his. If he does, ask him if he’d like some water and pour a little bit in each of your cups. Drink some and smack your lips. “Yummy!” See if he will do the same. This can be done with bits of food on plates as well.

Father Son at Beach238. Seek and Find

“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” Isaiah 45:3

PRAYER: Oh Father, help me to be as persistent in seeking you as Baby is in seeking me! Help me to appreciate Baby’s desire for constant companionship. May I be able to meet his needs and learn from him more about hungering and thirsting for You.

THOUGHT: When Baby starts getting clever about going around doors, you can set up all sorts of fun “obstacle courses” with you hiding behind or peeking over to encourage Baby to find a way around.

ACTIVITY: You can bring Baby into the bathroom and hop in the (empty) tub, closing the curtain part way. See if Baby will come over and pull at the curtain or scoot down to the end of the tub so he can see around it. Drape a beach towel or sheet over one end of the kitchen table and crawl behind it. Push one end of the couch or chair away from the wall and crawl behind it. Open a closet door part way and disappear behind it. Set up a stack of couch cushions between you and Baby and peek over the top. Set up a row of kitchen chairs and sit behind them where Baby can see you. See if he can figure out how to crawl around them to reach you. Be sure to always give Baby lots of hugs and kisses when he succeeds, and let him know everything’s for fun! If anything frustrates him so much that he quits trying to figure out how to get to you or starts to cry, come to him and show him how to do it. Be sure he always feels loved and ultimately successful in finding you. Remember, success at this stage for both of you is simply sharing fun and affection while you learn about each other and the world around you.

Reading a book239. Healing Ministry

“I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God…my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Deliver me…” Psalm 69:3,13-14

PRAYER: Oh Father, I know that you are the Great Physician and the divine healer. There is healing in your name and shelter under your wings. I pray that you would save us and heal us from all our infirmities of body, soul, and spirit.

THOUGHT: When Baby’s sick, it’s an ideal time to spend more of your activity time in quiet lap play where Baby’s main job is to absorb information rather than provide physical responses…much like we prefer reading or watching videos rather than vacuuming when we’re sick!

ACTIVITY: Do you have any pop-up books yet? When you turn a page in a pop-up book, something three-dimensional emerges for extra visual and tactile enjoyment, much to Baby’s surprise and delight. In experiments, researchers have found that even eight-month-old babies definitely take in material from simple books. Furthermore, psychologists have found that reading a story three or more times during a one-day period makes children very familiar with the vocabulary and sound sequences, and the theory is that repeated reading of simple books can speed up a child’s rate of vocabulary acquisition as much as 70% (Baby Minds). So, don’t be afraid to reread those same old stories, and don’t be afraid to check out “something old and something new” when you borrow books from the library. Ten times through may bore you, but not Baby!

Random Thoughts…But I Like Them…

Leonard Bernstein Second FiddleSo, these aren’t funny, but I think there’s a lot of truth in them.1618455_10153797401115010_922980857_nGenius Joke10984274_901484189883761_2117129791630556668_nHug Value12074592_10105752899430243_6137719831273897521_n11218886_1204534022905531_344081805823539988_nPlato on politicsMarriageNo one really fails who does his bestBe Happy“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6).