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).

Cartoons About Moms and Kids

10171056_837049046310048_2830100887171274284_nHere are a few thoughts to encourage young mothers: Grandma calls me preciousHobbies for a MotherJoel Goes HawaianCleaning before Company407594_216290841789353_151206238297814_486518_2105568869_nMama Bear's Cold PorridgeThis last one is to remind young moms to call their moms if they still have them, and to remember that your relationships with your children will always be among your greatest treasures, even if they’re driving you crazy right now!Moms with kids away from home“Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22; my understanding is that “to despise” means “to esteem lightly; to look down on; to regard as negligible” etc. As you’re struggling to love and provide for your own children, hopefully you will develop more compassion for the lacks you remember in your parents. Life is a lot harder than it looks!)

Time for the Baby Boomers to Lighten Up

Eating HealthyI think I’ve gotten entirely too serious and it’s time to lighten up a little, so for the rest of this week I’m going to share a few of the jokes and thoughts that friends have sent me or posted on Facebook. I keep a file of favored finds to pass along. Today’s jokes have to do with the problems of women, weight and withering. My apologies if we have  the same superset of friends and you’ve seen them all before. ∀x{x∈A → x∈B}??11350826_1058602867542922_5372739253847241728_n10308268_519599824811622_2369352284489533470_nLosing Friends. New FriendsExcited and a bit mindlessGrowing Old-1In honor of Julie Andrew’s passing away recently, this rendition of “A Few of my Favorite Things” was circulating on the net:

“Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.
Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.”

383218_343571168990668_314701215210997_1577291_43401786_n-1 copy(In case you have trouble reading this one, I actually think it’s beautiful, so I’m going to print it here: “Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty—they merely move it from their faces into their hearts.” Isn’t that sweet?)

“Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

Some Couples are Beautiful in Life—and Death

J+LJack and Lois were my best friend’s parents when I was growing up, and they made a huge impact on me during those critical teenage years. Like Saul and Jonathan, Jack and Lois “were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided” (2 Samuel 1:23).Brenda Their daughter Brenda has always been one the the sweetest, “goodest” people I’ve ever known, so when we were growing up, our shenanigans were fairly harmless, but even during our worst faux pas, such as when we’d both get in trouble for staying out later than was wise, neither her parents nor my parents ever had the heart to “ground” us from being together…sensing that no crime was so terrible as to condemn us to separation, which would have been a fate worse than death! Family with Ma I mean, we were so inseparable that her grandma got us both summer jobs working as waitresses at Woolworth’s, and we did crazy things—like make pacts to fall down any time we saw the other person fall on a ski slope so we’d both look dumb, or, when we were too shy to invite the guys we most admired for a Sadie Hawkin’s Day dinner at our church, she invited the guy I liked, and I the guy she liked…and we double dated. We used to say that “boyfriends come and go, but a good girlfriend lasts forever” (forget the diamonds)! Brenda with her sibs All the while, Brenda’s parents were in the background, setting an example of a harmonious marriage and allowing their daughter (who had a pretty well developed sense of appropriate demeanor already) hang out incessantly with a crazy teenager who was a new believer and hadn’t a clue what a “meek and quiet spirit” looked like. B,J,T Brenda’s dad used to call me “black eyes” because I wore too much mascara, but he’d always make me laugh and never really hurt my feelings…while still nudging me in the direction of wisdom. J+L kids When Brenda turned 16, her dad gave her an adorable little blue Corvair convertible, but I don’t remember him ever complaining about how much gas we burned “dragging main” (driving down our little town’s main street) with Brenda’s darling 3-year-old little sister planted in the back seat, trained by us (secretly) to wave at all the cute boys.  I look back now and cringe sometimes at how immature and untaught I was, but that makes me all the more in awe of Brenda’s nurturing parents. Having fun!We had so much fun together! Brenda’s parents even took us out to Dog and Suds for dinner (for real? I wouldn’t be caught dead going out with my parents at that age)…and I loved it! Sometimes on a Friday, we’d spend the night with her grandparents, “Ma” and “Pa,” in their cabin on the St. Mary’s River. Pa had ridden with the infamous Chicago gangster, Al Capone, but was miraculously converted, and when Bren and I would wake up in the morning on Saturday, we’d see Ma in the kitchen making breakfast while Pa sat at the table reading his Bible and praying. B's family For a teenager whose father told her that “no intelligent man would ever believe the Bible,” Pa’s quiet faith and kindness gave me hope for someday finding a godly husband who wasn’t “dumb.” Alan with Brenda's family                 Well, Brenda and I have remained fast friends for 50+ years, L and though I rarely saw her parents, I continued to hear of their steadfast faith and charity, their tireless hospitality and work, and Lois’ ministry as the director of Child Evangelism Fellowship in the Eastern U.P. B+JThey were healthy well into their 80’s, but this past year Jack developed pronounced dementia, and just recently, Lois was diagnosed with a brain tumor. B,JThey were very ready to go home to heaven, but…they waited patiently for the Lord to take them. Jack died and went home to be with the Lord at the end of September, and Lois passed away (and on to join him) less that two weeks later! LIsn’t that sweet? I stand amazed at God’s tender care for these two, who were so faithful to each other for over 60 years. They were beautiful in life…and in death!

“There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8).

“God looked around his garden,
And found an empty space.
Then he looked down upon this earth, and saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you,
And lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful,
He only takes the best Rest in peace Grandma.”

(All the pictures [except for the B+W from the 70’s]
and the poem are from Brenda’s FB page, used by permission.)

Rise Up, My Love (158): Neglecting Love

SS 158: 10.17.15 RaindropsSong of Solomon 5:6 “My soul failed when he spake…” In the Hebrew, this same expression is used in Genesis 35:18 to describe Rachel’s death. It’s as if the bride is saying, “I nearly died!” or, “My heart stopped beating.” How careless she had been…until it was too late. She failed him when he needed her, and now her heart melted in his absence. How the memory of his words must have broken her heart! “My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.” She must have chastised herself! “What a lazy, selfish person I am. He appealed to me in such tenderness, and I ignored him. He who has done everything for me…and I wouldn’t even be bothered to let him come in to the warmth and fellowship of our home. The king came to me—and I am so utterly undeserving of his love—but I refused him! How could I have ever been so unfeeling and foolish?”

Do you ever find yourself coming to the Lord in such remorse? I do. In the brethren assembly I attended for many years, we had a “breaking of the bread” service every Sunday, and there were many times when I came to the communion table feeling ashamed and utterly unworthy of the privilege offered me. There is a contemporary song with this stinging rebuke: “Christ rose from the dead, and we can’t even get out of bed!”

Sometimes our indolence is from laziness, but sometimes it is from exhaustion due to misplaced priorities. When I wrote this mediation, it was Christmas vacation at our house, and the seemingly endless round of activities and company—all individually good but cumulatively almost overwhelming—made it harder than ever to have the precious times of sitting at the feet of Jesus which he so richly deserved and I so desperately needed! After all, isn’t Christmas supposed to be a time to honor Christ and celebrate his birth? In America, materialism (in this case—exchanging presents)…and even charitable deeds…compete every day for our time and attention, and we are challenged to become unwitting idolaters…all in the name of Christ!

“I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.” He had withdrawn—disappeared into the night—left without a word about where he was going. How like our foolish, carnal nature to understand only the value of what we’ve lost! How many times are we careless with the feelings and needs of those closest to us, minimizing their value and “taking them for granted” until they’re gone…sometimes forever!

Have you known the stinging loss of a loved one? I have stood beside many a casket in the past 10 years, and it appears to me that the deepest anguish may not be over losing a beloved one with whom there has been a full and satisfying relationship, but over losing a loved one where there have been unfulfilled hopes and dreams…where all the “somedays” had never come to pass and now—in stark and terrible reality—it becomes painfully and irrevocably obvious that they never will. The if only’s and I wish’s are the most unbearable. Too late to say, “I love you.” Too late to say, “I’m sorry!” Too late to say, “Thank you.” Too late to say, “Let’s try again.”

I once heard it said that if we suddenly knew that the world would end in ten minutes, every telephone around the world would be in use with people calling to say, “I love you,” or trying to make things right. How much better it would be to take at least the first five minutes crying out to God, “I love you!” and making sure all is right between us and the lover of our souls!

But, why wait until our world is coming to an end? Why not make it the cry of our hearts each morning before we ever depart our beds, and each evening before we ever drift off to sleep?

Dear Holy Spirit, convict our hearts of sins that need to be forgiven, of offenses that need to be made right, of sentiments that need to be expressed, and then please give us the courage and power to take the actions that need to be taken—now—before it is too late. Convict us concerning our relationships with other people…but first and foremost…in our relationship with God our Father, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and you, our holy Teacher, Comforter, and Guide. Amen.

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart” (Psalm 95:6-8).