267. Anticipating Needs
“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
PRAYER: Dear Jehovah-Shammah, thank you for being our Lord who is present with us all the time! Thank you for Jesus Christ, who is our advocate, our mediator, our intercessor…the one who prays for us when no one else even knows what we need! Thank you that so often you know what we need and provide for us even before we think to ask you! Help me to be such a wise and wonderful advocate and intercessor for Baby, too! May your Holy Spirit whisper in my ear: “This is the way, walk in it!”…and bless me with the energy and grace to obey!
THOUGHT: I nursed Aaron (and all seven of my kids) last thing at night until he was over a year old. I’ve since been told that this is hard on teeth, although all seven of the kids loved the quiet, relaxed bonding ala bedtime snack. But, often babies wake up and cry to be held more after being put to bed. When the baby just couldn’t seem to settle down to sleep, I would sit beside the crib in my rocking chair, reach my hand through the slats of the crib, and gently massage the baby’s back or pat his diapered little bottom while singing softly to him.
ACTIVITY: Sometimes long songs with almost monotonous tunes are great for lulling kids to sleep, and one of my favorite for such occasions was “Over in the Meadow.” “Over in the Meadow”
(Written by Olive A. Wadsworth in the 1800’s) “Over in the meadow in the sand and the sun, lived an old mother turtle, and her little turtle one. ‘Dig!’ said the mother. ‘I dig,’ said the one. So they dug all day in the sand and the sun.
Over in the meadow where the stream runs blue, lived an old mother fish, and her little fishies two.‘Swim!’ said the mother. ‘We swim,’ said the two. So they swam all day where the stream runs blue.
Over in the meadow in a hole in a tree, lived an old mother bluebird, and her little birdies three. ‘Sing!’ said the mother. ‘We sing,’ said the three. So they sang and were glad in their hole in the tree.
Over in the meadow in the reeds on the shore, lived an old mother muskrat and her little ratties four. ‘Dive!’ said the mother. ‘We dive!’ said the four. So they dived and they burrowed in the reeds on the shore.
Over in the meadow in a snug beehive, lived a mother honeybee and her little bees five. ‘Buzz!’ said the mother. ‘We buzz!’ said the five. So they buzzed and they hummed in the snug beehive.
Over in the meadow in a nest built of sticks, lived a black mother crow and her little crows six. ‘Caw!’ said the mother. ‘We caw!’ said the six. So they cawed and they called in their nest built of sticks.
Over in the meadow where the grass is so even, lived a gay mother cricket and her little crickets seven. ‘Chirp!’ said the mother. ‘We chirp!’ said the seven. So they chirped cheery notes in the grass soft and even.
Over in the meadow on the old, mossy gate, lived an old mother lizard and her little lizards eight. ‘Bask!’ said the mother. ‘We bask!’ said the eight. So they basked in the sun on the old mossy gate.
Over in the meadow where the quiet pools shine, lived an old mother frog and her little froggies nine. ‘Croak!’ said the mother. ‘We croak!’ said the nine. So they croaked and they splashed where the quiet pools shine.
Over in the meadow in a sly little den, lived a gray mother spider and her little spiders ten. ‘Spin!’ said the mother. ‘We spin!’ said the ten. So they spun lacy webs in their sly little den.”
268. Sick Days
“And the people…followed him [Jesus]: and he received them, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.” Luke 9:11
PRAYER: Oh Father, I love all the names you’ve given us in your word to help us understand more about who you are! Thank you for being “Jehovah-Rapha”…the Lord who is our healer. It is so hard to be sick, and so very, very hard to take care of Baby when I’m sick. Thank you for being our healer! Help me to be take good care of baby even when I’m feeling yukky. Please heal us quickly and completely when we get ill, and whenever I’m seriously ill, please provide others to help take care of both Baby and me.
THOUGHT: What can be done for fun when Mama is too sick to take care of everybody?
ACTIVITY: If Baby’s well enough, one special treat would be to send him off with Daddy to a McDonald’s Play Park or other fast food restaurant with an amusement area for children. Baby and Daddy can bond (and bring supper home to Mom) while Mom gets caught up on her sleep! Or, a special trip to a park with a drive-through stop for fast food on the way home works too. Babies love being “in arms” to swing, go down slides or through tunnels. In fact, most babies love tunnels and small spaces. If you find that your baby really loves the tunnel experience, there are lots of toy companies that sell vinyl tunnels for play at home Or, Daddy and Baby could make a simple supper for Mama together and then go on a “camping trip” where they eat their finger food picnic (like cheese bits, tiny crackers, apple chunks, raisins, etc.) in a tent made out of a sheet draped over a broom secured over the tops of two chairs (with a plastic sheet underneath if you’re on a carpeted surface). When Mom get’s better, she can join in the fun again.
269. Of Flowers and Birds
“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” Song of Solomon 2:12
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly bridegroom—my Lord Jesus, you have been called the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys, and it’s been said that even your name is more fragrant than the perfume of roses and lilies. Thank you for loving us and calling us to yourself to become your bride! Thank you also for the Holy Spirit, who came like a heavenly dove to rest on Jesus and whispers in our ears. May we hear your voice singing and joying over us. Bless Baby and me with ears to hear and respond to your melodies of love!
THOUGHT: Have you taught Baby to recognize the sight and sounds of birds?ACTIVITY: When he sees one, say, “Bird!” excitedly, pointing to the bird, and then make a gesture for bird. I used to imitate birds by flapping my arms like wings, but the American Sign Language sign for “bird” is to take your forefinger and thumb and pinch them together several times with your hand close to your mouth, as if you’re imitating a bird opening and closing its beak. See if you can get Baby to imitate you. He might be able to get out a “brr” sound, but if not, he may be able to make the “bird” sign, and the next time he sees a bird, he may be able to let you know just what he sees and remembers! You might also sing this little nursery song to Baby:
“Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty black birds, baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.
Now wasn’t this a dainty dish to set before the king!”
270. Love and Kisses
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”
Song of Solomon 1:2
PRAYER: Dear LORD God, thank you for being Jehovah-Nissi, “the Lord our banner.” Truly you have purchased me with your blood, sealed me with your Holy Spirit, and fly your banner of possession over me. But, I love it, because I know from the Song of Solomon 2:4 that your banner over me is love! Thank you for being my banner! Thank you that the “flag” and guiding principle of my life is you, and you are love. Bless Baby, dear LORD! I pray that you will claim her for yourself, draw her to yourself, and protect her from all evil with your banner of love. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
THOUGHT: I may be stepping on toes, but it is my firm belief that husbands needs our undivided, private attention at night…every night, and that one of the greatest gifts we can give our husbands is the freedom to love us body, soul, and spirit without having to compete with the needs of our children for hours after they’ve been tucked into bed. Obviously, if an infant cries, you’re going to want to check out what’s going on so that he isn’t neglected, but please give your husband the gift of your undistracted love for at least part of the night!
ACTIVITY: Is there anything more precious than giving and receiving love? When Aaron got big enough to give us kisses, it sent us right to baby heaven! Here is a gentle kissing game that Baby will love! As you say the rhyme, kiss Baby on each place mentioned, ending with three kisses on his forehead and a big hug:
“Kiss your fingers, kiss your toes, kiss your cheek and kiss your nose.
Kiss your ear and kiss your hair. Kiss my baby everywhere!”
271. Doubly Good
“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” Isaiah 49:13
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being my father and mother! Thank you for being El-Shaddai. I’ve heard that this means “God of the Mountains,” or “God Almighty,” but I’ve also heard that this means “The Breasted One” and I know that you are the nourisher and sustainer of all life. Thank you for being all that Baby and I, and our family, need!
THOUGHT: Reciting nursery rhymes—especially if it’s done so often over the course of the child’s early years that she spontaneously memorizes them—is actually far from frivolous. Rather, it’s considered excellent preparation for learning to read because it teaches “phonemic awareness.” Reading requires several skills, but one important one is learning to understand the idea of component sounds within words. For this reason, being able to hear, create, imitate, and eventually recognize on a page word pairs helps the child recognize similarity in word sounds and is an important precursor to reading acquisition.
ACTIVITY: So, bring on Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss! Invest in some classic children’s poetry, such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, and don’t be afraid to sing some of those silly little songs that you’ve heard forever! Here’s a favorite that all my kids would recognize and my mother used to sing to me (both of my grandmothers went by the name “Daisy”):
“Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do!” (Clap hands together.)
“I’m half crazy, all for the love of you!” (Put hands up to Baby’s cheeks.)
“It won’t be a stylish marriage.” (Shrug shoulders and bring hands up and out.)
“I can’t afford a carriage. (Shake head sadly “no.”)
“But you’ll look sweet, upon the seat…” (Point to Baby.)
“Of a bicycle built for two!” (Make pedaling movements, then hug Baby.)
272. Limits and Freedoms
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29
PRAYER: Ah, Holy Father. You are El-Elyon, the “most high God.” You are the great lawgiver. You rule over the raging of the sea, and you appoint the number of days that we will live. You tell us what should be, and what we should and should not do. You are also our judge…“the Judge of all the earth” that Abraham knew would always do right! Help Baby and me to trust you with every day and every decision of our lives. May we rest content with what we cannot understand or change, and may we treasure those things which are revealed to us so that we will be wise and obey you, knowing that your commands are for our good and given because you love us and want us to be blessed. Help me to be a wise lawgiver for Baby. May the rules in our home be based on love for all and a desire for Baby to be safe and happy rather than ever on selfish convenience.
THOUGHT: If you haven’t already thought of this, it may be a great time to give Baby his very own cupboard or kitchen drawer. I called Aaron’s his “tiny treasure drawer.”
ACTIVITY: If you can spare a space for Baby that is totally his, he will find great freedom and pleasure in having something that isn’t “off limits,” and he will love having his own space in the kitchen while you’re busy working there. Baby will feel loved and honored, and I also believe having some privileges makes it easier for a child to accept the fact that he has limits too! Besides, children love surprises, new toys (that can be old household items), small gifts, little spaces, tiny treasures, and discovering secrets! Slip in a little surprise from time to time, and see how much he loves his very own space!
273. Sign Language
“For the abundance of milk that they shall give, he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.” Isaiah 7:22
PRAYER: Dear Lord, you are my shepherd, Jehovah-Rohi…the good shepherd! Thank you for leading us and providing your goodness and mercy to follow us as we go.
THOUGHT: Baby is now old enough to begin understanding the concept of “more.” “Do you want more?” You might use a gesture such as making fists and knocking your knuckles together. This is called a baby sign. Teach Baby some signs, and pretty soon she will be communicating with some dignified sign language as well as grunts and squeals! (“More” and “All done!” were two of Grandson Reuben’s most helpful and commonly used signs.) There are various camps on the sign language issue. My son, Aaron, and his wife, Carleen, used American Sign Language (ASL) rather than baby signs per se, since ASL is more standardized and universal so logically would seem to have more long-term use.
ACTIVITY: Baby can probably start understanding some simple concepts, nouns, and verbs. It will take her many months before she can begin to speak the words or count for you, but you can start helping her understand the names for various objects and the idea of one, two, three, and a bunch. If you make it a part of finger feeding, she will soon know what you mean. “Look at the strawberries! One, two, three” (as you point to them). “Here is a sandwich: one sandwich.” “Here are a three grapes: one, two, three!” (just halves so she doesn’t choke). “Here are two crackers.” You can ask her questions too: “Would you like one slice of banana or two?” (Hold out your hands, one with one slice and the other with two slices, and see which one she picks.)