198. 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.
199. 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.)
(One hand disappears behind back.)
(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.
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.
201. Of Rivers and Strings
“He that believeth on me…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
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.
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. 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…)
“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).
204. 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.”
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…