“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
PRAYER: Oh, LORD God, you are the faithful and true witness to our lives, the one who provides for us and gives us strength day by day. Thank you! Help us to always acknowledge you, trust you, honor and respect you! You deserve our undivided loyalty.
THOUGHT: One of the beloved traditions in our home has been waving goodbye to Dad until he’s out of sight in the morning. Even now I love to kiss Dad (Grandpa) goodbye and walk out the door with him, waving until I can’t see him anymore. We’ve also instituted the “Fifteen Second Kiss” when no one is looking…a long, intimate kiss both in coming and going that gives a very special feel to remind us that “You are my one and only!” If you and Baby are up when Daddy leaves, consider honoring him by waving him off to work and by making a special commotion over his arrival home again. These little two-minute rituals pay tribute to your admiration and appreciation for him “slaying dragons all day” so that you and Baby can enjoy the security and comfort of a home, and it also gives Baby a clear, daily witness of your love and respect for your husband.
ACTIVITY: Has Baby learned our cultural expressions for greeting and parting? How about a game of “Hi/Bye!” Call to Baby and say, “Hi!” like you’re so glad to see him. Put both your arms out and give him a big hug and a kiss. Then, set him down and say, “Bye, Bye!” Wave and blow him a kiss, and then pretend to walk away…but just for a few steps. Wait a second, turn around, and then say, “Hi!” and start the game over again.
“You shall eat the labor of your hands: happy shall you be,
and it shall be well with you.” Psalm 128:2
PRAYER: Oh LORD God, you are the horn of our salvation and the lifter of our heads! You are El Chay, “the living God,” in whom we live and move and have our being! May we praise you with our whole being, singing and rejoicing and making a “loud noise” in our joyful celebration of the happy life you’ve given us.
THOUGHT: Once Baby gets quite coordinated and has mastered shaking a musical egg or maraca, try letting him play with a tambourine. They are great for learning rhythm and participating in songs before he can sing with you. You might want to start with the toy type which can be bought for very little around Christmas time, because they are lighter and smaller, but if Baby especially enjoys music and you don’t think he’s likely to hurt himself (or heave it and damage something around him), you can also invest in one from a music store that may last many years. (If you opt for a real one, be sure to let him use it only with supervision.)
ACTIVITY: Here’s one of our family’s all-time favorite children’s choruses. Try forming a train if you have several children, or just hold Baby’s hands and be a train with him.
The Gospel Express
“Join the gospel express, come along and answer ‘Yes!’
It’s leaving for glory soon.
And the guard is so glad he is waving his flag. Hallelujah, it won’t be very long.
Beep, beep goes the whistle; toot toot toot goes the train,
Chug, chug, chug goes the engine,
And we’re off on the glory train.”
“Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.”
PRAYER: Dear LORD God Almighty, you are indeed the Most High, and Jesus is the son of the Most High. May Baby and I always rest content in you, our bountiful God.
THOUGHT: The best remedy for discouragement is resting in God, “casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 7:7). He loves you, and you can trust him!
ACTIVITY: Here are a couple of “just for fun” ideas for playing with Baby when you need some good, old-fashioned rest and relaxation. The first is a nursery rhyme:
“To market, to market, to buy a fat pig!
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog!
Home again, home again, jiggity jog.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun!
Home again, home again, market is done.”
The second is a game/song that you probably played as a very small child. You stand in a circle, starting with one person who is “it” and becomes the “farmer,” standing in the middle. As the song is sung, the “farmer” gets to choose a “wife,” the wife get to choose a child, etc. At the end, everyone leaves but the “cheese,” who will become the next “farmer” if the game is played again. If you are playing alone with Baby, you can just hold her hands and walk slowing round and round in a circle, singing the song as you go.
The Farmer in the Dell
“The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell,
High, ho, the dairio, the farmer in the dell.”
The farmer takes a wife…
The wife takes a child…
The child takes a nurse…
The nurse takes a dog…
The dog takes a cat…
The cat takes a rat…
The rat takes a cheese…
The cheese stands alone…
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,
especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10
PRAYER: Oh Father, you are the giver of all good things. Help us to share your bounty with those who are in need of help or encouragement, especially other believers.
THOUGHT: Consider making or buying a “Surprise Box. If the games played with the Surprise Box are fun, its appearance will bring on an excited curiosity in Baby as she beings to associate the box with pleasurable times of learning. It can be a happy precursor to the concept of “school’s in session,” although played for only a few minutes.
ACTIVITY: Encourage sharing by giving lavish praise any time you see Baby spontaneously being unselfish as well as by playing sharing games. Try gathering a few interesting objects into your Surprise Box, using a combination of toys that Baby recognizes and some that aren’t usually considered “hers,” such as a spoon, a greeting card, a balloon, etc. Take one of the objects out, examine it, and play with it so Baby notices. Say, “Would you like it?” If Baby seems interested, say, “You may have it,” and give it to Baby. After she’s enjoyed it for a little bit, say, “May I have it?” and put your hand out. If she gives it to you, thank her excitedly and praise her, play with the object for a few seconds and possibly find a way to engage her in playing with the object too.
If Baby doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to share, then pull out the next item from the Surprise Box and repeat the process. The goal is to get Baby to share objects with you and eventually learn three things: 1.) How to share outright
2.) How to share by exchange 3.) How to share by mutual play.
“Stand therefore, having…your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:14-15
PRAYER: Father, thank you for being Ish, our “heavenly husband.” Jesus, who is our bridegroom…our passover Lamb, our king, our prophet, and the “apostle and high priest of our profession” (Hebrews 3:1). Thank you that he died for us so that we can live for him. May we always stand up for Jesus and share his gospel of peace in a hurting world.
THOUGHT: This may be premature, but my theory is that it’s rarely too soon to try something as long as you really supervise closely. Babies will most likely try to eat crayons or chalk, but see if you can get them to imitate you and draw instead!
ACTIVITY:. How about trying an art lesson? If you think of it as a “Scribbling Lesson” that might help you square the results with reality, but it might be worth a try. Buy some crayons and paper to work at the kitchen table, or buy some chunky chalk and head for a sidewalk or your driveway with your budding artist in tow. Let him watch you draw a simple figure (like a circle or line) on the sidewalk, and then offer him the chalk. If he scribbles (as opposed to trying to just eat it, break it, or throw it), give him lots of praise. You might try taking turns scribbling/drawing with several different colors of chalk, and be sure to discuss what you’ve drawn. Even though the scribbling may be “just for fun” at first, before too long, Baby will be trying to draw something that looks like something in imitation of you. This the idea of “symbolic function,” and children learn very early the fun of trying to express themselves and create designs that are pleasing and meaningful. (On the other hand, if Baby just misuses the chalk, tuck it away and try again in another month or two.)
“They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house;
and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” Psalm 36:8
PRAYER: Father, we worship you as Hashem, “The Name.” You have promised that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). We call on you, Lord, and bless your name forever. We call on the name of Yahweh, the great “I am,” and we call on the name of Jesus, who is the head of the church and heir of all things. For the sake of your great name, please bless us and save us, now and always.
THOUGHT: If you have not established a weekly “Date Night,” I highly recommend it! Of all the advice Grandpa Alan and I have received over the years, this has been one of the most useful ideas. My father, Great Grandpa Louis, told us before we got married to make sure we never stopped dating and nurturing our own relationship. He said, “Even if you haven’t got a nickel to split an ice cream cone, get out of the house once a week and at least go for a walk together!” It gives you crucial time for being friends and lovers instead of just coworkers and fellow parents. Look forward to it! Be creative when you can. Make it fresh and exciting so that it infuses your relationship with fun and romance!
ACTIVITY: Well, what does a date night have to do with “blessing your baby?” Everything, really, because happy, close couples make for happy, close homes! What about a barrel of monkeys for a barrel of fun while you’re out on a date and Baby is at home with a sitter? The monkeys arms interconnect with each other and can be made into chains. They fall apart easily and can be taken out of the barrel or put back in. They can be used for counting. If they get spilled, oh well… they’re easy to pick up!
“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” Proverbs 24:16
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for promising that you will never leave us nor forsake us! That gives me the courage to declare boldly: “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6). Even though I’m a sinful daughter of Adam, thank you for Jesus, the “last Adam” who died so that I can rise up after falling and begin again. Thank you for Jesus, “the Branch of righteousness” who will “execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15). May I rise from each failure and begin again to imitate my Master, doing what is just, good, and kind for Baby.
THOUGHT: Here’s an old standby imitation game that children have loved for generations, and Baby may be ready for you to play it with him.
ACTIVITY: It’s called “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” The first time, you might want to get Daddy involved too, just to model for Baby what’s going to happen. Stand facing Daddy and Baby, and then do something very simple. Whatever you do, have your husband imitate, and try to encourage Baby to imitate you too. Once Baby learns how to play, either you or your husband can lead, and eventually, Baby will probably be able to play it just with you. Some ideas to try: shake your head, clap your hands, touch your toes with your hands, make kissing sounds, jump in the air, nod your head, laugh, cover your face with your hands, put your hands on your hips, swing side to side, squat, mew like a kitten, make marching movements without actually going anywhere, lift your arms up high over your head, wave, hop up and down, flap your arms up and down like a bird, smile, etc.