309.Holding Baby Up
“They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:12
PRAYER: Ah, dear Father, thank you for being a mighty rock behind whom we can take refuge and find relief. May we sit down “under your shadow with great delight” as the bride did in the Song of Solomon. Thank you for defending us and protecting us! Thank you for Jesus, the “living stone.” Thank you that he is our cornerstone and not a stone of stumbling or a rock of offense to us. Please bless us, dear Lord, hold us up, and keep us from stumbling.
THOUGHT: Isn’t it amazing that we have a heavenly protector who will stand like a rock between us and our enemies, and who will hold us up to keep us from falling? May we be such “rocks” and supports for our children!
ACTIVITY: Do you know the children’s game “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”? It’s a game you and Baby can play together while he’s learning to walk. Hold Baby’s hands and walk slowly around in a circle, singing:
“Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,
Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush, so early in the morning.”
(Then stop walking, drop hands, and sing while pretending to kneed dough.)
“This is the way we bake our bread, bake our bread, bake our bread,
This is the way we bake our bread, so early in the morning.”
(Then, hold hands again and do the chorus again.)
You can make up all the verses you can dream up. Some I remember are:
“This is the way we make our beds” (pretending to smooth out covers)
“This is the way we wash our clothes” (pretending to scrub on a washboard, which wouldn’t make any sense to a toddler. Maybe a better way for today is to pretend to be bundling clothes into a washing machine…)
“This is the way we dry our clothes” (Hanging on a clothesline or throwing into a dryer)
“This is the way we iron our clothes…scrub our dishes, water our plants, pull our weeds, bake our bread…the list of house hold chores is nearly infinite, Amen?!
310. Sweet Peace, Sweet Peas
“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD;
and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Isaiah. 54:13
PRAYER: Precious LORD, may we always experience the great peace you have for us, as you explain in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
We marvel at your kindness and your omniscient wisdom! Teach us how to walk in your Spirit, avoid pitfalls, and experience your peace. Help me to be a wise teacher for Baby too, so that she will also learn to walk securely, avoid falls, and enjoy your wonderful peace!
THOUGHT: One of the greatest joys in life is being able to celebrate milestone events with those we love. After birth, the next “HUGE” step is walking, and if you can’t visit your parents during this critical stage in your baby’s development, be sure to send them a video if that’s an option. Just a couple of weekends ago I had the privilege of being present when our youngest grand son started to crawl. Pretty special! Let your loved ones share in your joys as much as possible.
ACTIVITY: Does Baby have a favorite treat that might be used as an alluring snack to encourage taking steps? Our firstborn loved sweet, green peas picked fresh from the garden and wild blueberries that were sun ripening along the sandy roadsides in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in August. If you can find a healthy snack that you don’t mind Baby enjoying bit by bit, try holding a tiny piece out in the palm of your hand and coax Baby to come from one parent to the other with tasty rewards to encourage her.
311. Time Out
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child;
but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for being my potter…the one who is forming me. Thank you also for correcting me and defending me from others: “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls, for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). Help me to correct and defend Baby as well!
THOUGHT: There are times when you’re not sure what went wrong or how to fix it, but you’re sure something’s wrong and something should be done. Once when traveling, we arrived rather late in the evening to our motel, and our two oldest, Aaron and Michael (who were about 3 and 5) immediately began squabbling about something. Alan said in a stern voice, “All right, you two, line up against that wall and just stand there for a few minutes!” Without a word, Aaron and Michael obeyed. Soon Baby Jonathan, who had been preoccupied, looked up in amazement at the quiet and noticed what his big brothers were doing. Not wanting to miss out on anything that looked like a game, Jonathan immediately dropped his toy and went and stood up against the wall next to Michael, just like a little soldier. Of course, that broke the tension and made us all laugh! We let them off in just a few seconds, and we all tumbled happily into bed. But, just that quick minute ended what could have been a very dreary evening of fighting over covers, bed space, bathroom time, or whatever!
ACTIVITY: Sometimes doing nothing is a great activity! I wish I’d used the Time Out more often! Children hate to have to be quiet and have nothing to do but think…and yet a few quiet minutes to think is often just what they need. (*Note: Please don’t ever use a car seat or bed as a “time out” spot. The best would be a playpen that’s not associated with anything else. I just used the above picture because I loved the little fellow’s obvious look of frustration.)
“I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt:
open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10
PRAYER: Ah, Lord God, the Mighty One… “Jehovah-Jireh.” Truly you do provide and you will provide, if we will only let you! Help me to be like a baby bird, opening my mouth wide so you can fill it! Please help Baby to be good, Lord, and to understand that I am trying to help him. Please help him to learn self-control so that he won’t refuse food, push away his cup, or throw things. Help me to be patient, firm, and consistent.
THOUGHT: Once Baby gets to the stage where he is intentionally defiant…at whatever age that begins…then it’s time to begin actively disciplining him. I heard a minister once comment that he only used physical punishment with his children for failures in three categories: disobedience, disrespect, and irresponsibility. That seemed so good to me that I adopted it, and I still think it makes a pretty good guide for assessing problems and understanding the dynamics of what’s going wrong. If our desire is to “train up a child in the way he should go” with the ultimate goal of helping him turn to Christ for salvation and walk in the truth, love, and light of God’s Spirit, then we have to train Baby to be respectful and obedient from earliest days.
ACTIVITY: Here’s a good game to practice with two empty, plastic tea cups. Sing:
“Polly put the kettle on, kettle on, kettle on. Polly put the kettle on, we’ll all have tea,” (Hand Baby and yourself each a cup, pretending to pour tea for both of you to drink, and then daintily pretend to drink it down.)
“Polly take the kettle off, kettle off, kettle off. Polly take the kettle off, we’re all done drinking!” (Put your cup aside, then offer to take Baby’s cup and put it away too. Treat these cups with great care, and it might help Baby learn to treat his own cup more gently.)
313. Hot Head or Cold Feet
“I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom,
and the reason of things.” Ecclesiastes 7:25
PRAYER: Dear omniscient Father, please help Baby and me learn the ways of wisdom!
THOUGHT: When Baby misbehaves, the process of thinking through exactly what is wrong with your child’s action and why it is inappropriate will help diffuse your initial reaction and help guide you as you consider what type of discipline is needed. The two natural tendencies are either to get angry and do something too harsh, or to ignore the behavior altogether. John Marshall, who was once chaplain for the U.S. Senate, prayed something like this: “Lord, deliver us from hot heads lest we do anything rash, and from cold feet, lest we fail to do anything at all.” Both responses are wrong. Try your hardest to prayerfully and thoughtfully address each transgression as it occurs and faithfully administer discipline as needed. Too often parents ignore problems until the child is flagrantly hostile and the parent is practically seething with rage. “Nip it in the bud” is such good advice! Deal with problems head on and consistently, but with a gentle grace that leaves your child feeling loved, watched, and firmly but kindly turned around and nudged in the right direction.
ACTIVITY: Learning how to turn over cups and reach into plastic containers are two very useful accomplishments to master. Two other “tricks” that might be fun for Baby to learn are how to take something in and out of a folded sandwich bag and how to open and close a zip-lock baggie. If you put something into the bag that Baby really likes, like bits of cut up grapes for lunch, that will give him lots of incentive to learn!
314. Seeing and Doing
“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein…this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:23-24
PRAYER: Precious Lord, your word is like a mirror. By looking into it, I can see reflections of my soul and where I need to cleanse, change, and rearrange my life. Please help me to follow through! Please bless Baby, too. May we grow to be sweet, whole, healthy, bright, and lovely inside and out! May I cherish her, groom her with care, and always see her as you do, not looking on the outward appearance, but on her heart.
THOUGHT: One of the many ingenious inventions that didn’t exist when I was rearing children is the mirror system for cars so that Mom can keep occasional eye contact with Baby even while she’s driving in the front and Baby’s sitting securely in her car seat in the back. If you haven’t invested in a baby mirror system, by all means save up your money and get one! With a mirror, you can see if there’s any serious problem going on, if Baby’s content, about ready to erupt, or sound asleep.
ACTIVITY: Have you been taking pictures of Baby all along? If not, how about a picture day? If you don’t have a camera, you can now buy a disposable one for a few dollars at most grocery stores. Be sure to get some portraits of Baby on her own, but also try to get pictures of you and Baby together. If your husband is available during the day or in the evening, ask him to be the photographer for a while, and then return the favor and take some pictures of your husband and Baby together too!
315. Flourishing Souls
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health,
even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1:2
PRAYER: Dear Lord, you are the Great Physician and the Chief Shepherd. You are the best of everything good! Please help Baby and me to always put you first in our lives and affections. May our souls and bodies prosper and be in good health!
THOUGHT: Keep sharing happy songs with your children. They’ll never forget them!
ACTIVITY: Here’s a little song you can sing at the doctor’s office or anywhere else when you’re trying to keep that busy little toddler on your lap. Hold Baby on your lap and sing as you wiggle each of his fingers, one at a time. (It’s sung to the tune of “Ten Little Indians,” but Native-Americans may not like being sung about in this way, so I changed the lyrics.)
“One little, two little, three little fingers.
Four little, five little, six little fingers,
Seven little, eight little, nine little fingers,
Ten tiny fingers on your hand!
(Then reverse the fingering…)
Ten little, nine little, eight little fingers.
Seven little, six little, five little fingers,
Four little, three little, two little fingers,
One little finger on your hand.”
Here’s a song that I’ve loved since my earliest days as a believer. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it too and sing it to Baby.
Sunshine in my Soul
“There is sunshine in my soul today, more glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky, for Jesus is my light.
O there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine, while the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face, There is sunshine in my soul.”
—Eliza E. Hewitt, 1851-1920)