Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Triply Blessed Thanksgiving

family-celebrating-grand-sons-birthdayDid you have a happy Thanksgiving Day? boy-with-a-balloonOurs was really special. basket-ball-birthday-cakeFor one thing, Thanksgiving Day
coincided with our grandson Samuel’s second birthday.
taking-a-selfieSamuel was a little micro-preemie born at 27.5 weeks with translucent skin and looking so fragile it was hard to imagine he could survive,
although by God’s grace he did, and look at him now! baby-dedication Last Sunday Dan and Brianna dedicated Samuel to the Lord.  blowing-out-birthday-candlesSunday was also Daniel’s thirty-first birthday,
so we’ve had one super happy week!little-boy-playing-with-a-balloonToday Sammy is a happy, healthy, bouncy little boy who is madly in love with all things ball! and lights up our lives with his laughter and joyful presence. birthday-celebrationLast night we joined Brianna’s family in celebrating Samuel’s second birthday. expectant-momI am so thankful for his life and health, and we’re delighted to be looking forward to Daniel and Brianna’s second baby, due to arrive next April!

family-funAlso, our son Stephen didn’t think he could make it home (from New York) because he was over his head with work. However, Wednesday night I heard his voice in the rainy twilight just about the time Alan was due to arrive home for dinner. WOW! What a treat to have him surprise us with a visit! child-stacking-blocksTonight, we’re having our GR kids over for a thanksgiving dinner of goose, and tomorrow we’re going to Plymouth to share in a Thanksgiving dinner with my daughter Kathy’s family, so this Thanksgiving seems like a celebration of firecrackers going off pop, pop, pop! children-playing-with-balloonsNot long ago, someone mentioned to me feeling like a failure because they didn’t feel very loved.mother-and-sonIt occurred to me that success isn’t in being loved, it’s in loving others. God doesn’t say “Be loved,” He says, “Love” and defines success as loving God with all our hearts and loving our neighbors. couple-enjoying-autumnGod is the source of all genuine love, and as C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves: “When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained, and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because [it was] His.” child-opening-birthday-presentsThank you, Father, for loving us. Help us to experience your love for us, be overwhelmed by love, and able to love others as a result.  stacking-blocksMy prayer for you is what Paul asked for the Ephesians: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

Finding the Perfect Apartment in the Heart of Paris

paris-springIt was true, although it seemed too good to be true. But, there was one catch. strolling-in-paris-springtimeFirst of all, let me tell you about our apartment. view-along-the-seine-riverIt was just 31 £ per person for the 4 of us,the-river-seine a block from the Seine, notre-dame5 minutes from the Notre Dame, outside-the-louvre-museum-parisand only 15 from the Louvre and d’Orsay. crossaint-and-coffee-parisI feared it might be infested with cockroaches, but it wasn’t, breakfast-at-terressa-flat-parisand we discovered that “Terressa Flat” referred to the fact
that it was a flat with a terrace garden perfect for dining outside! rue-des-lombardsWhat I hadn’t realized was that “Rue des Lombards” is a very famous street,
full of nightlife and jazz clubs.rue-des-lombard-paris-by-night In fact, it was more crowded near midnight than it was in the mornings! paris-springSo, it was an ideal location for experiencing Paris,
but it was absolutely harrowing trying to access our apartment! paris-sightsFor a starter, our sons flew to Paris from Boston and NY,
arriving early the next morning at different times.

street-vendors-along-the-river-seineThe theory was that they would be able to drop off their luggage and pick up a key so they could spend the day exploring before Alan and I arrived about suppertime from Grand Rapids. The realities were that no one was available at the place of residence. No one received them, gave them a key, or offered to hold their luggage. In fact, no one even appeared to speak English or understand rudimentary French.  😦

picnicking-in-the-park-paris-srpingAfter hours of attempts to contact the owner, Stephen was able to communicate (in French…thankfully he’s knows some French) via email, and late in the afternoon he was able to meet “a friend” of the owner who gave him a key and wanted cash (which Stephen didn’t have) for payment. By then, Stephen and Joel had both missed a night’s sleep and were really tired. The man said they could stay, but that he’d return the next day for the rest of the payment.

rue-des-lombards-at-nightAlan and I had had a delayed flight (which is getting to be almost more usual than timely flights) and didn’t arrive until nightfall (long after Stephen and Joel were expecting us) after the taxi driver dropped us off several blocks away, pointing and gesticulating with untranslatable French phrases in the direction of a dark and very busy alley. We slowly mazed our way, dragging our luggage, to what we thought must be the door to our apartment above a very crowded street, but inside the door marked “8” were about 12 possible choices for apartments to ring, none descripted as “Terressa Flat.” One by one we pushed all of the buzzers, to no avail. I think perhaps none of them worked, but I know that the one for our apartment certainly did not, because neither son appeared. We tried calling, but our phones (despite having paid good money for the privilege) didn’t connect.

night-scene-rue-des-lombardWe tried asking help from a couple of sympathetic looking young people, but no one knew anything about that particular apartment and using their cell phones didn’t help make a connection. At long last, Stephen (who’d set his alarm for the occasion) came down to see if we’d arrived yet. Whew! We kissed our sons, kissed the floor, and flopped into bed. What a dreary and inauspicious beginning! However, our holiday in France turned out to be quite the opposite: It was marvelous and memorable!

door-for-our-apt-on-rue-des-lombards-in-parisI’ve thought a lot about how hard it was to get to Terressa Flat, but how much we loved it once we finally arrived. I’m betting heaven will be like that for some. springtime-in-parisIt sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. rue-des-lombards-at-night-2It’s not full of cockroaches (things we don’t like),
but it will be full of music and life. river-seine-on-a-sunny-spring-dayIt will be the perfect location…just down the street from the River of Life
and a place of worship…and close to our favorite attractions.
(For me, that’s going to be loved ones!)walking-along-the-seine-river-paris-springHowever, it may seem almost impossible to figure out how to get there, despite having a reservation. If you’re confused, please pray and ask for help.
(Feel free to ask me in the comment section.) walking-along-the-seine-riverIf you see somebody who looks confused and you understand the language,
reach out and help, will you?

the-river-seine-2And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him…And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:1-3;17)

Rise Up, My Love (172): What’s With the Beard?

David's Mighty MenSong of Solomon 5:13 “His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers…” In the Old Testament, a man’s beard signified his strength and honor. It was a great disgrace to have one’s beard shaved off. Do you remember the account of David and the King of Ammon? When the King of Ammon died, David sent a delegation to comfort Hanun, the king’s son. However, the new king’s advisors didn’t believe David’s noble intentions and thought he was sending in the men as spies. So, instead of receiving comfort, King Hanun seized the men and disgraced them but cutting off the skirts of their robes and shaving off half of their beards. This shamed them so deeply that David told his men to tarry in Jericho until their beards had grown back before returning to their homes (2 Samuel 10:4-5). Epictetus stating he would embrace death before shaving. Wiki In the Old Testament, a full beard was synonymous with the dignity of manhood.
(In this picture, the philosopher Epictetus is stating that he’d rather die than have his beard cut off!) Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_RijnAccording to the Law of Moses, a man was not even supposed to trim off the corners of his beard (Leviticus 19:27). Rembrandt. The Face of Jesus. DIAWhen Jesus had the hair of his beard plucked out, it was not only terribly painful, it was as if mankind was trying to destroy the manhood of Christ. Can you imagine how you would react had you been Jesus? I’m sure if I had been in Jesus’ place I would have been tempted to think, “If they want to deny me and reject that I am a man…so be it! I will call ten thousand angels and show them that I am God. I will burn them up in an instant, like the fire that devoured the wicked men trying to capture Elijah (2 Kings 1:10)…and I will have the earth swallow them down, like the 250 wicked sons of Korah who offered strange fire before God in Numbers 17!” Murillo_Bartolome_Esteban Crucifixion How hopelessly human I am. But, how divinely perfect Jesus was, who bore the beatings and the plucking, and the pain. Blessed Jesus, exalted now and forever at the right hand of God. When we see him in glory, I believe he will be radiant with manliness, his cheeks “as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers.”The Resurrection of Christ. Van Dyke

 

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Week 29)

Six Months Old198. Growing and Exploring

“And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great.” Genesis 26:13

PRAYER: Oh, God…you are so great and so good! How wonderful that the Creator of the ends of the earth is all goodness, righteousness, and holiness…the joy of the whole earth! You are my joy. Please bless Baby. Help us to delight in your presence and find contentment in belonging to you—today and forever!

THOUGHT: Some household items make fabulous toys. Think creatively as you go about your day, always looking for new, safe ways for Baby to interact with the real world of objects and experiences.

ACTIVITY: Wooden clothespins (without wire parts) make great toys. You can draw faces on the heads, and suddenly you’ve got puppets. You can use them to close up bags of potato chips, cookies, and bread. They float in the bathtub and can be used to make trains or be cars on the floor. They can be arranged into geometric designs and even used to spell out letters or count numbers (no more than one, two, three at this stage). They can be dyed with magic markers and used to teach colors. You can hide one in your hand to play a guessing game: “Which hand has the pin?” They roll across slippery surfaces and can be fun to chase. You can give Baby a handful of clothespins and a wide mouth (plastic) jar and see how many pins he can get in and then take back out. In a pinch, Baby can even suck on one when he’s bored, and he won’t get indigestion. If you haven’t yet, make friends with your local clothespins! A bag of 100 usually costs very little and can be found with laundry supplies at your local grocery store.

Out to Eat199. Where is Thumbkins?

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

PRAYER: Dear Lord, you are not only the great creator, you were the first handyman! We see your handiwork in the creation, and we know that in you “we live, and move, and have our being.” Thank you for continuing to care for your creation, feeding even the ravens and counting each tiny hair on our heads. Thank you for holding the entire universe together! Thank you for holding the whole world—including Baby and me—in your hands! May we remember that we are safe in you, because you’ve assured us that no one can “pluck” us out of your hand!

THOUGHT: How about a hand game to keep Baby occupied while at a restaurant?

ACTIVITY: This is a simple one, but it can amuse Baby until you’re quite bored! Sing quietly (to the tune of “Frère Jacques”):

“Where is Thumbkins? Where is Thumbkins?
(Start with hands behind your back.)

“Here I am! Here I am!
(Each time, bring one hand out to the front,
formed into a fist with your thumb sticking straight up.)

“How are you today, Sir?”
(Have one thumb bow toward the other thumb.)

“Very well, I thank you!”
(Have the other thumb bow back.)

“Run away.”
(One hand disappears behind back.)
“Run away.”
(The other hand disappears too.)

Repeat the game, this time using your index finger and saying, “Where is Pointer?” Then, “Where is Tall Man?” “Where is Ring Finger?” “Where is Pinkie?” Finally, let all the fingers wiggle and say, “Where is Family?” If Baby is really into the game, he may want to touch each of the fingers each time.

Great tongue action!200. Imitating the Real Thing

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and…
he was buried, and…he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4

PRAYER: Dear God our father, thank you for loving the world so much that you sent Jesus to die for our sins. Thank you, dear Jesus, for your willingness to suffer so much for us! Dear Father, we thank you that after Jesus died and was buried, you resurrected him from the grave, and that now he is sitting at your right hand, reigning over the universe with you. Thank you for your desire for each of us to be imitators of Christ. Thank you for calling us to be your children, to repent of our sins, to be born again into the family of God by faith in Christ, and to grow up spiritually, learning to walk in his steps. Continue your wonderful work in us, precious Father. Help us to become more and more like Jesus.

THOUGHT: There is no higher calling than to be like God, and in the Bible God does call us to be like him: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36). “Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). May God give us the grace to study his Word and become good imitators!

ACTIVITY: If Baby likes to imitate, it’s not too early to play a rudimentary game of “Simon Says.” This can be used to keep Baby entertained in the car, although it’s a fun game for any time! Except at this age, don’t try to trick Baby. Always say, “Simon says…” and then do something that Baby can do too: Wrinkle your nose, yawn, lift your arms, wiggle your fingers, stick out your tongue, touch your head (or all sorts of other body parts), clap your hands, shake your head, lean to the left, kick with your feet, etc.

I want it!201. Of Rivers and Strings

“He that believeth on me…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
John 7:38

PRAYER: Oh precious Lord, how we long to experience the fullness of your river of life filling our lives and flowing out from us to provide love and refreshment for those around us. So often I feel like I’m running on empty and need refilling myself. How rare it is that I feel like I’m overflowing and have an abundance of grace to share with others! Please help me to grow in my faith and experience of you. May I refill my spirit every morning by soaking in your Word. Please renew my mind and refresh my spirit. Help me to keep from quenching the Holy Spirit in my life so that I will feel the fullness of his presence and have joy and grace to be a blessing to Baby and all around me.

THOUGHT: By our nature, humans look to other humans to fill their emotional needs. God calls us to himself and promises that he will fill us with his Holy Spirit if we will only believe. If you find yourself exhausted, of course try to get your physical needs met, but also remember the resource of praying for God’s grace and mercy to bridge the gap between what we need to do but can’t seem to accomplish by our own human resources.

ACTIVITY: When Baby’s sitting and you want to see if you can encourage him to crawl, try pulling some interesting things slowly by him, across his lap and legs, and away from him. Try a ribbon, a string, a piece of yarn, or a rope. If Baby has trouble catching it, try attaching a toy to the end and see if he can grab that! If Baby is really good at it, try dragging the string slowly by just out of reach and see if he will go into a crawl in order to “catch” the string! Be sure to reward him with lots of approval, hugs, and kisses after he’s had a chance to play with his prize.

Ready to go!202. Encouragement Through Help and Delight

“For not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.” Psalm 44:3 (ESV)

PRAYER: Oh Mighty God, thank you for being our savior! Thank you for doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves! We could never save ourselves from our own sins, and without you, we would never be able to do so many of the things that we aspire to do! Thank you for saving us so often from ourselves and our weaknesses, and thank you for being willing to forgive us for our sins and failures. Help me to be a merciful and forgiving mother, just as you are a merciful and forgiving Father! May I save Baby from himself, too! May I learn to live in the light of your presence and understand your delight in me, and may I be a blessing to Baby by delighting in him and allowing him to bask in feeling my love through the light of my countenance.

THOUGHT: If you study Baby carefully so that you’re aware of how he’s changing and enter into his joy with each new discovery and acquisition, he will feel so loved! Try to notice Baby’s progress. What one new or different thing did he do today? The more you understand your child, the more you can help him and cheer him on as he grows. Baby gnawed on this one!ACTIVITY: Don’t you love how clever your baby is?! To encourage crawling, put a small, interesting-looking cardboard box or laundry basket several feet away. Put in several toys, so that once Baby reaches it, he has some prizes to explore. The prizes could even be items from your rag bag: clean, old towels, pants, socks, shirts, wash cloths, etc. As with all games, eternal vigilance is necessary to make sure Baby doesn’t choke himself. (Note: a 6-month-old chewed this foam ball…)

Horsey Back Rides203. Soarin’

“He made him ride on the high places of the earth.” Deuteronomy 32:13

PRAYER: Oh Father! You can ride on the wings of the morning, and the clouds are just the dust of your feet. Help me to be faithful to wait on you so that my strength is continually renewed and I can “mount up with wings like eagles…run and not be weary…walk and not faint” like the faithful ones in Isaiah 40:31.

THOUGHT: This is a bit of a non sequitur, but I wanted to comment about stools now because you may be noticing some differences if you started solids around six months. It is totally normal for stools to firm up and become browner once Baby starts solid food. The up side is that stools usually become less frequent, but the down side is that even if they look like melted candy bars, they sure don’t smell like them!

ACTIVITY: Although “horsey” is the perennial favorite, there are a couple of other options that can be lots of fun. On laundry days, try taking Baby for a streetcar ride in a laundry basket. You can make stops at various streets along the way to pick up passengers: (in your best announcer’s voice) “We are now stopping at Kitchen Counter Street. All wash cloths and terry towels aboard. Now calling at Tubby Time Terrace. If you want a bath, it’s time to get off. Stopping for bath towels…time to board! Next stop: Bedroom Boulevard. Any socks or shirts want a ride? Oh, too full! Standing room only…” Another less diverting but possibly even more thrilling trip is a ride on a Magic Carpet pillow. Daddy can probably make the rides higher, but even Mama can take Baby for a short ride, especially if Baby will lie down on the pillow and be carried mostly under one arm (with the other arm supporting underneath).

Mother and Baby in flowers204. To Love and Be Loved, THAT is the Answer!

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”
John 15:9

PRAYER: Father, thank you for loving Jesus. Thank you for Jesus loving me. Thank you that you call us to love you and each other. Bless us, dear Lord. Help Baby and me to experience your wonderful love for us so that we know what it feels like and will eagerly love each other and continue in your love!

THOUGHT: One of the most ethereal experiences in life is giving and receiving love. “As much as lieth in you,” shower your baby with godly, joyous affection! Warm smiles, laughter, and loving gazes are expressions of affection that hopefully all babies receive and probably give almost from birth, but it is thrilling when your child starts to initiate affectionate touching.

ACTIVITY: How about an affectionate touching game that also teaches the names of your eyes, nose, and mouth? Take both of Baby’s hands in yours, and touch one right next to each of your eyes, saying, “Eye!” Have both her little hands touch your nose while you say, “Nose!” Finally, place both her hands on your mouth and say, “Mouth!” Then, immediately say, “Smooch!” and give her a kiss. You might end by singing:

Oh, be Careful Little Eyes
“Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little eyes, what you see.”

Other verses can be:

Be careful little ears what you hear…(etc.)
Be careful little mouth what you say…
Be careful little hands, what you touch…
Be careful little feet, where you go…
(Author Unknown)

Fort Wilkins: Incognito

Cottage in Bunratty Folk ParkI’ve written on America’s charming Greenfield Village, Bunratty Folk Park in Ireland, Seoul’s Korean Folk Village, and Denmark’s Den Gamle By, Discussing Cannon at Fort Wilkins but I’ve never mentioned Fort Wilkins, which is a delightful, "Baking" at Fort Wilkins user-friendly, free historical park in Copper Harbor, Michigan.Map of Michigan (Copper Harbor is at the very tip of the “finger” pointing into Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; *Map by Alexrk2 from Wiki Media.)Map of Fort Wilkins Fort Wilkins is minuscule compared to internationally acclaimed living history museums, but it is on the National Register of Historic Places in America, Setting the Table at Fort Wilkinsand its well worth a visit!  Soldier at Fort WilkinsBack in 1844 the U.S. Army built a full-support fort with 27 buildings, Loaves of Bread in the bakery at at Fort Wilkins including a bakery, Carpenter's Shop at Fort Wilkins blacksmith shop, carpenter’s shop, mess halls, stores, Storage Room at Fort Wilkinsstorehouse, hospital, stables, Using an Old-fashioned scrub board at Fort Wilkins laundry, barracks, Officer's Home at Fort Wilkins and officer’s quarters, etc. Rifle hanging on antlers at Fort WilkinsIt was built to preserve peace
between the copper miners and the Native Americans, Cannon at Fort Wilkins but they all got along so well that a military presence was really never needed Lake Fanny Hooeand very quickly the soldiers were shipped off to more problematic areas! Log cabins at Fort Wilkins So, Fort Wilkins was abandoned just 25 years later…in rather pristine condition. Recipe for army bread at Fort WilkinsDuring our generation, many of the fort structures were restored and outfittedTable setting at Fort Wilkins as wonderful examples of military (and civilian) life from 160+ years ago. History Comes Alive For 10 weeks during the summers (June-August), “history comes alive” Chopping Wood at Fort Wilkins as young men and women in period dress carry on with life as it would have occurred back on the army base during its last summer of occupation. Period Costumes at Fort Wilkins The student “life interpreters” did an excellent job of staying in role…in fact, such a good job that I never realized (until I posted about Copper Harbor yesterday and got a response) that a friend I’d known from childhood Sunday school days actually had a daughter who had worked there! Officer's Quarters Small world! If she’d been there that day,
I would so loved to have known that and been able to greet her! Copper Harbor, MI It made me consider that there are probably people I see on the streetsFort Wilkinswho are related to people I’ve known…
or maybe are people I’ve known, but I simply don’t recognize them! Officer in costume at Fort Wilkins Although we can’t always identify one another physically,
on a spiritual level, I hope we never go incognito…
dressing and acting like someone other than who we are. Yes, they ARE Christians! Fort Wilkins If we are Christians, may our lives shine with the radiance of God’s love. (Actually, that happened with this girl, and we could tell she’s a believer!)The Good Shepher at Fort WilkinsBy this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

“We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord

“And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love

“We will work with each other
We will work side by side
We will work with each other
We will work side by side

“And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” (—Peter Scholtes)

(I took the first picture at Bunratty Folk Park in Ireland, but the rest were taken on our trip to Fort Wilkins a few weeks ago.)

 

Simple Pleasures: Celebrating Holidays with Loved Ones

Grandma with BabyDid you have a happy Fourth of July?  I sure did! Red Sunrise The day dawned with a vibrant glow and just got better from there! Dan's Family Not only did we have the privilege of enjoying Dan’s family, Brothers talking Stephen, Joel with Amelie on tractor and Joel, who are living here in GR (at least S+J through the summer), Jon and Gerlinde but we also enjoyed the company of Jon’s family (visiting from Washington), Gene and Andrea's family and my sister’s kids (Andrea and Kegan) plus Andrea’s family!!
Andrea and her husband, Gene, were super close to our kids growing up. Gene and Andrea's family In fact, Andrea met Gene at our house, and it’s been such a delight to have watched their friendship blossom into romance and grow into a beautiful marriage, now blessed with seven children. Family walking down a lane They remind me of Alan and myself from about 30 years ago with our seven! SophieSigh. Where did the time go? (This is Jon and Linda’s youngest, Sophie.) Reading At any rate, there are few “simple pleasures” any more wonderful than getting together with family to share holidays and play with cousins, Eating black raspberries and this Fourth of July was no exception! Jon and LindaWe enjoyed lots of chances to bond over meals and conversations…Reading a book to a childlots of story times High Five!and “High Five” moments. Samuel sound asleep at family reunion copyBy the end of the day, everybody was full, happy, content…and very sleepy! Birthday WishesThank you, Father, for family!

“Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.” (Psalm 128:1-3)


 Bless Your Baby (Ideas for Baby’s Fourteenth Week)

Fourth Month

  1. Taste Testing4 Months Old!“He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.” Deuteronomy 32:13

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, who is our Rock of ages and whose words are sweeter than honey, please bless our baby with a sense of peace and security. May we know and live out an utter confidence in you—the rock of our salvation—that results in an unruffled calmness in our souls and a peace that passes understanding throughout our home. Thank you for all the good things we enjoy eating! Please give us wisdom as we introduce various tastes of food to Baby. Help us to be wise in choosing a generous variety of nutritious foods that have excellent flavor and texture, and, as Baby grows up, may she always “suck out” (by meditation) all the honey and butter in your wondrously varied and nutritious Word!

THOUGHT: I was advised to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and then introduce new foods one at a time to make sure Baby wasn’t allergic to anything, avoiding any citrus (including tomatoes), wheat, dairy products, honey (to avoid Clostridium botulinum), or eggs for the entire first year. Whatever the current theory, let your pediatrician’s best advice be your standard.

ACTIVITY: If your pediatrician approves, consider letting Baby suck on a spoon smeared with a tiny lick of mashed banana, rice cereal, mashed potato, or a drop of salty water. A few new, harmless taste experiences may help Baby be more willing to accept medication the next time she’s sick!

  1. Games for Rough Toddlers Who Want to Play with Baby

“Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

Proverbs 17:9 (ESV)

 

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for being the LORD God of Israel, the God alone of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made heaven and earth, and yet you’re willing to “bow down your ear” and listen to us…and “open your eyes” to see us. Thank you that your eyes are “upon the ways of man” and you see everything. Please oversee all of Baby’s interactions with other children to keep them all from harm and injury. May you always save Baby out of the hand of any who would harm her, and may her hands daily be extended to others in love and friendship!

THOUGHT: Active toddlers who are interested in Baby can be a challenge if they haven’t had much experience with infants. Games where you give the toddler some channeling and lots of approval usually make the youngster feel less jealous and occupy both children in a positive way, especially if Baby is allowed to watch from a safe perch (usually Mom’s lap).

ACTIVITY: Rolling a ball back and forth between Mom and toddler can be really fun, but only if the child never throws the ball. If the toddler is truly hyperactive, jealous, or rough, then it helps to find activities where you and Baby are mostly observers. You could ask the child to show Baby how to do tricks such as hop like a frog, jump like a bunny, creep like a cat hunting a mouse, or slither like a snake. Or, you could ask the child if he can make sounds like a cat, dog, chicken, duck, horse, cow, etc.

  1. After Returning Home from Travel

“And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.”

Acts 21:6

 

PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, Thank you for keeping us safe when we travel. In all our travels, may we share your amazing love with those we meet, and may the warmth of that love draw others to your light. For as long as we live, may we be busy telling others about all your compassion and the great things you have done for us. Also, thank you for our wonderful home! Thank you for every wall and every window. May we daily delight in your good provisions for us, and may our home be a haven of rest for those who enter. May your presence—your love, joy, and peace—abide here with us.

THOUGHT: When we’re gone from home for a while, we often realize more than ever how much we appreciate what we have! After returning from visiting family, Aaron lit up when he saw his crib. The mattress on our bed in those days came from our grandmother’s abandoned farmhouse…but it was our mattress. Our furniture was “early American Salvation Army,” but it was our very own! There are lots of places in the world where people sleep on mats on a dirt floor, or sadly, have no home at all. Our family has helped build tiny one-room homes in Mexico where a real glass window is a treasure…yes, here in the twenty-first century!

ACTIVITY: Why not take time the have a “Praise Service” with Baby, walking around your home, rejoicing together in all the good things you do have. Praise God for food, secure walls, safe cribs, warm blankets, your comfy bed, etc. Count your blessings!

  1. Ticklish Knees

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 3:14

PRAYER: Dear Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, we bow our knees to you today, asking as the Apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians, that you would strengthen us with might by your Spirit in our inner man. May Christ dwell in our hearts by faith, so that we, being rooted and grounded in love, will be able to comprehend the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, and be filled with all the fullness of God. Thank you for being able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to your power that works in us. May glory be unto you in the church throughout all ages!

THOUGHT: If Baby hasn’t discovered her knees yet, she will soon. Help her explore!

ACTIVITY: If the weather’s not too cold, how about some exercises with just a diaper on Baby’s bottom half? Gently tickle Baby’s knees and see if you can get her to smile or kick. Put on some booties that have bells (securely) attached so she can hear them ring when she moves her feet. This bell game can be done repeatedly when Baby is awake, but it should always be done with your close attention so there’s no danger of her choking on the bells. Take Baby’s hands and let her feel her knees. Tell her they are “knees” while you touch them, and then tell her everything you know about knees while you pat them. Gently massage her legs and feet with your hands and carefully do “bicycle” motions with her while she’s lying on her back on a soft surface. Let her legs extend out and kick a little, and give her a little resistance, so she’s actually pushing against the palms of your hands (but not enough to stop her, just a bit of strengthening exercise).

  1. “Making Strange”

“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”

Luke 10:27

 

PRAYER: Dear God, who is our refuge and in whom we put our trust, please teach us as parents how to love Baby enough to protect her from every harm, even the emotional distress caused by demanding people. Help both Baby and me to love others but only trust those who are good. May we learn to abide always under the shadow of your wings and love those who walk uprightly, work righteousness, and speak the truth in their hearts. May we be able to be kind to all men yet remain unaffected by those who may try to demand what is not be best for Baby. Help us to be discerning, loving, gentle, and kind, and give us a wise and thoughtful answer for every request.

THOUGHT: Once Baby understands the concept of “other” versus “mother” and knows that she prefers mother to other, she will begin to appear shy or “make strange.” ACTIVITY: Today’s “activity” is for you to practice saying “Not now!” Protect Baby from people who want to hold Baby or play with her against her will. There are times when your infant must be entrusted to another caregiver (church nursery, babysitter, or whatever), but during times when there’s no necessity for leaving mother’s arms, don’t feel obliged to please anyone else at Baby’s expense. If a friend can sweet talk her into coming to her, so much the better, and a little coaxing for out-of-town relatives or friends could be a good thing, but in the long run babies warm up faster and are more secure and confident if they are allowed to choose their own timing in developing friendships.

  1. Learning Balance: A Lifelong ChallengeSitting up?!“Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.”
    Psalm 1:1 (ESV)

PRAYER: Dear King of the Universe who is decked with majesty and excellency and arrayed with glory and beauty, thank you that you never walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. Bless Baby, dear Father. As she learns how to balance so she can sit alone, may she learn to sit at your feet. As she learns to stand, may she always stand for you. As she learns to walk, may her heart sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” Help us all to be godly and well balanced.

THOUGHT: One of these days, Baby will slump forward and be “sitting” up for a few seconds. Work with Baby at balance; it’s one of the most fundamental abilities in life!

ACTIVITY: Although most babies are six months or older before they sit up on their own, you can help Baby learn to sit by helping her practice balancing. Hold her under her arms and let her little feet dance for you. Make a circle with your hands just barely bigger than her chest so that as soon as she starts to tip over you balance her on her feet again. Do the same with her in the sitting position (as long as her neck is strong enough to support her head now). Let her sit with your hands encircling but not completely supporting her. As soon as she starts to tip, rebalance her and let her have a go at trying to balance herself again. If you smile and encourage her while you practice, she will enjoy playing the “game” and be as pleased as you are. Most of athletic agility, social awareness, and mental prowess are inborn gifts. The child can’t change who she is, but she can be encouraged to grow and improve as fast as she can by enthusiastic approval.

  1. R’n’R for Baby: Rest (at Night) and Relaxation (in the Tub)

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”

Psalm 127:2

PRAYER: Oh, Father, thank you for giving your beloved sleep! A day without sleep, and I’m exhausted! Please bless our family with the ability to sleep soundly at night, and please help us to recognize when we are being crabby simply because we are overtired. Help us to make wise choices so that we are not getting up too early or staying up too late unnecessarily. And then, dear Lord, we pray that you will help us to be secure and joyful about receiving a daily washing with your precious Word. Help Baby to enjoy her bath and learn to revel in the freedom of clean, warm water washing away all the sourness and grim. Thank you for your provision to save us by your mercy, wash us by regeneration, and renew us by your Holy Spirit. Thank you for your wondrous, cleansing power.

THOUGHT: The warmth and freedom of a daily play in the tub is especially important for development during the long winter months when the weight of booties and blankets hamper exercise and exploration. It’s one of the happiest ways you can bless your baby!

ACTIVITY: If you haven’t developed a daily bath routine, please consider starting one today. Just five or ten minutes of water play is plenty of time. Those precious baths are very prime minutes of sheer freedom and pleasure in a baby’s life, and they wash away every trace of sour milk and urine, even from the tiniest crevice and cranny. If Baby’s skin seems dry or chapped afterward, try a little baby lotion. It’s a great fifteen-minute investment in health, and she’ll feel so fresh all snugged up again: soft, clean, dewy, and smelling sweet!