Jean & Shawn Boonstra

and Pacific Press Publishing Association

Design & Layout by Fred Knopper Cover Photo by Edited by Michele Stotz Proofread by Ashley Wagner Text Typeset: 11 pt. ITC New Baskerville Copyright 2008 by It Is Written. All Rights Reserved. Additional copies of this book and a host of other spiritual resources are available from It Is Written. For more information call toll free 1-888-664-5573 or visit

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible texts are from the New King James Version, copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

Printed in the United States of America by Pacific Press Publishing Association Nampa, Idaho / Oshawa, Ontario, Canada ISBN 10: 0-8163-2169-8 ISBN 13: 978-0-8163-2169-8

.................................................................................................55 Emergency Quick Reference Guide ...35 Poisons ....................................22 Isolation .............................................................60 ................................................................................13 Fever ...........................51 The Great Physician .......................................................................................................7 When Should I See the Doctor?...............................................25 Underdosing on the Best Medicine .....................46 Hypothermia ..............5 In an Emergency ................................................................................................................40 Inoculations.................................................................................❦ Contents Introduction ......................17 Fractures and Sprains ............................................................................59 Emergency Help from the Great Physician ......30 Preventive Medicine .........................


and so we still have many. It is not an exhaustive work. if you are willing to come on this parenting adventure with us. we welcome you inside. 5 . we have learned solely through trial and error. The third reason that we have entered into this journey cautiously is that our children are still young. First Aid Parenting. with the help of the Great Physician. Secondly. We are not marriage and family counselors. Just visit our house some busy school morning as we’re all getting ready to dash out the door and you’ll see a brilliant example of our shortcomings. This having been said. Our two girls are only eight and five. We have muddled through our parenting experience thus far. We feel woefully inadequate to write anything about parenting for many reasons! The first reason is that we hardly feel we are model parents. or teachers or physicians. we are not child psychologists. It is not a manual and it is definitely not the final word on parenting. We are just two people who love each other and our children.❦ Introduction It is with great trepidation that we begin this little book. many years ahead of us to confirm just how little we know about parenting! It is because of these precluding factors that what you find before you is not an expert treatise on parenting. and if we have learned anything. as you must certainly have already guessed from its size. It is far too early to know if what we’ve been doing is actually going to “take” over the long haul or not.

plans to give you hope and a future.” declares the Lord. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you.“For I know the plans I have for you.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) .

of all generations. We love them desperately. and likely in yours too. and try to determine if this 7 . Let’s take a look at some of the universals of parenting first. Still. it often feels like life is all about whatever emergency is consuming the moment. or our grandparents were raising them? In many ways. Naomi. So. but that doesn’t mean that every day is smooth and easy sailing. In spite of our love and devotion to our children. Many of the things that defined my great grandmother as a mom are the very things that define me. There are things I encounter daily that were unheard of in my grandmother’s or even my mom’s day. but perceived emergencies abound. modern parenting is decidedly different than it was for any generation before us. real emergencies are rare. There are things that are universally true of all parents. what do we do when we feel like we’re living in a state of emergency? How is being a parent today different from when our parents were raising us. modern parenting is essentially the same as it has always been. it seems like even the smallest things can turn into fullscale emergencies—especially when lack of sleep is a factor. In our house. Our youngest daughter.❦ In an Emergency Do you ever feel like your life as a parent is just about surviving one emergency after another? In our household. has been known to crumple into a heap of tears over a missing sock! Our children are certainly a treasured gift from God.

A parent is the first person a child relies on. whether good or bad. and so by the time I was expecting our first daughter I was overflowing with expectations and hopes for our little one. I’m busy. We had no idea that our beautiful little girl could possibly cry so much. and trusts. and we thought that we knew just how we were going to raise our new arrival. or if it is something that our generation invented! Parents.” And I knew exactly who she was imitating…it was me! It was terribly humbling. have an indelible influence on the life of their child. and the way we treat our children. Parenting has always been hard work. learns from. The parental influence is difficult to understate. The decisions we make as parents.8 FIRST AID PARENTING state of emergency parenting has always ruled. It is an awesome responsibility and a very humbling experience! I vividly remember the day I overheard our oldest daughter Natalie. . Shawn and I waited several years before we started our family. Then our vocal little bundle arrived and most of our plans and ideas went right out the window! We suddenly realized that we were going to have to learn how to be parents. just like everyone before us. through a lot of sanctified guesswork. Then I heard her snap to one of her little dolls. is huge. She was being sweet and kind and I loved listening to her. talking to some of her dolls. We had everything all mapped out in our minds. will affect them for the rest of their lives. A parent’s influence over his or her child. and it is our job to figure things out on our own. then two. “Not right now. The things we teach our children will go with them for a lifetime. no matter the time or the place. and so loudly! We struggled along. eventually learning what worked for Natalie. The core challenge is the same now as it always has been: kids are born without an instruction manual.

for long periods of time. fixed the stuff that was broken and drove the car on family vacations. the fast paced state of emergency that I find myself in does seem to be a product of modern parenting. The mother took care . Many days. brother and me to come inside when the streetlights came on. One of the biggest changes in modern parenting has been the definition of roles for fathers and mothers. These kinds of freedoms are fairly unusual nowadays. too. cut the grass. definitely did not work with our second! Parenting has never been easy because we all start the job inexperienced. My life as a mom is somewhat different for me than it was for my mom. Our world and our homes have changed. Shawn and I both grew up in small towns as younger children and we can remember playing outside. Shawn remembers his mother telling him to come home when the noontime siren rang out for lunch. but learned very quickly that what worked with our first. In our Western culture. I remember my mom telling my sister. The father earned the living. family oriented neighborhood.IN AN EMERGENCY 9 We were admittedly smug the second time around. Our modern life is busier. and each child is a unique creation of God. Single parent families and mixed families are commonplace. with little supervision. where influences like satellite TV and the Internet were nonexistent when we were young. I wouldn’t think of letting my children play on their own beyond the boundaries of our court. Even in our safe. much more cluttered with things and demands. Parents have to play a larger supervisory role nowadays than ever before. Our world is just different. the roles of fathers and mothers were fairly static for many generations. Kids are confined to backyards or the indoors. and technology has been both a blessing and a strain. and quite a lot different than it was for my grandmother.

though. The women of my mom’s generation were encouraged to follow their hearts into the career world or the domestic life. because both parents now have more choices open to them than they did a few generations ago. if only the family could afford the loss of their income. The changes in parental roles have not all been positive. This generation of moms is bearing a tremendous amount of responsibility not only . even if one of the parents is working from home or part-time. I think about how different my children’s lives are from mine. So. cooked the meals. the combination is pretty hectic. and I’m not that old! A lot of this change has been positive. Shawn travels a lot and so by default I am the one who fixes the broken stuff and cuts the grass. The traditional male/female division of labor is quite different. In most families both parents work. most of the time. The average family has certainly changed from just a few generations ago. Our society and economy are now structured in such a way that it is almost impossible for mothers not to work outside of the home. There have always been exceptions to the rule in every generation. was the primary caregiver for the children and. I know so many friends that would rather be at home full-time. When both parents are working and children’s lives are more cluttered with materialistic wants and activities. that they could choose their own destiny.10 FIRST AID PARENTING of the home. In our family. Much of this freedom to choose has now been lost in my generation. for the first time. went along for the ride. there still seems to be a less traditional division of chores. It was an exciting time where many women felt. we have almost swung around full circle. but the fact remains that this was the norm up until my mom’s generation. Even in families where only one parent works. and that goes for both moms and dads. did the laundry.

with little recognition or thanks.IN AN EMERGENCY 11 in the business world. and that sometimes “no” is the best answer! These are all things that show a child what God is like. and that is a wonderful thing. and one that deserves the utmost in respect and love. Today’s dads are far different from their grandfathers. Ultimately. when you lie down and when you get up. The modern father carries a lot of responsibility. but on the home front as well. Impress them on your children. This is the mother’s role also. 7 (NIV): “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. These changes are wonderful. . The dad seems to be the last fair target for ridicule. Dads nowadays are increasingly involved in their children’s lives. A father’s most lasting role is to show his children a picture of what God. and they are also helping out around the house more than ever.” This is a high calling. their Heavenly Father. Dads are still carrying the bulk of the financial burden in most families. It is a calling that keeps Shawn and me humble every day. and even more so in a single parent family. and this is a tremendous shame. a father’s role is to lead his children to God. The father’s role has become rather uncertain in our modern world. is like. because his role is incredibly important. We read about it in Deuteronomy 6:6. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road. A father shows his children that he is dependable and willing to sacrifice of himself for his family. but I find it disappointing that the role of the father in the family has lost the respect that it once garnered. I am always saddened when I see fathers ridiculed and disparaged on television and in books.

with God’s help. The fast paced life that we live creates unique challenges and frequent emergencies. work for our children and learn from them—as parents always have. Our challenge is how. to survive the emergencies.12 FIRST AID PARENTING Parenting in today’s world is certainly not business as usual! We still love our children. .

but thankfully most parents do not carry that burden. Suddenly. You worry. She has a cold and is sleepy and cranky. we were responsible for another human life. and especially of being a mother. rock her a little more. was there to help me. When Natalie arrived in this world. and our first worry became. Most of our worries are over the day-to-day things. Natalie was a little on the scrawny side. You go back and forth in your mind a few dozen times. You give her Tylenol. Maybe it is an ear infection. The worry over a child with a terminal illness is a genuine worry. and worry. but then again.❦ When Should I See the Doctor? Maybe. she surprised us by arriving two weeks early! Shawn was on the other side of the country and I was at home with his mom—who. or maybe it is just a little bug that will soon pass. either. thankfully. you have rocked a sick toddler in your arms and worried. Should I take her to the doctor? It could be tonsillitis. Worry seems to be an inborn part of being a parent. it could just be a cold. it was high. There are so many things to worry about when you are a parent. You took her temperature and. worry and worry! This kind of worrying doesn’t just happen over illnesses. due to her early arrival. 13 . but not too high. is she eating enough? Is she gaining enough weight? The burden of that responsibility was tremendous in those early days. certain that whichever choice you make will somehow be wrong. yes. like me.

or too much? Should I let him drink juice or water. and others definitely self-imposed. There are so many things to worry about! When children are little. that my job as a mom would get easier. I could go on and on. but there are even more of them! Did I teach her enough at home to prepare her for school? Private school. and all of the things that . I was wrong! The worries are different. but we are already worried about them. Our children haven’t even entered the teen years yet. Wow. Shawn has already lain awake at night worrying about the boys ringing the doorbell to take his girls out. some legitimate. We love the little beings in our care desperately and want only the best for them. and a little more independent.14 FIRST AID PARENTING and a fragile little one at that. We never felt like we were doing the right thing. it is so easy to worry about their growth and development. I misguidedly dreamed that once the girls got older. Is my child growing enough? Is she eating too little. milk or soymilk? Does ketchup count as a vegetable? Should I hand out candy at her birthday party. will she overindulge in them later in life? Why isn’t she talking yet? Why won’t she stop talking? Am I really up for this challenge of parenting? I just don’t think that I can do it. I soon discovered that this was to be the first of many worries. Worry is such a natural part of being a parent. or too bossy? Should she be learn-ing a sport and taking music lessons. or will she be over-scheduled? Is she well adjusted? Why are all the other kids in the class taller than she is? The list is endless. I can’t even imagine my babies going away to college. or will the other parents turn up their noses at my liberality with sweets? If I deny her treats. public school or home school—did I make the right choice? Does she have enough friends? Is she a strong leader. We want them to have the best of the things that we enjoyed in our childhood. With two daughters.

and part of His plan was to have us raise them. It is on evenings like this that I love to sneak into the girls’ bedrooms and kiss their soft cheeks while they are asleep. the Great Physician! There is a verse in the Bible that has truly helped me to turn my worries over to God and let Him take care of them. but I have found in recent years that there is a doctor with a prescription for that—God. There are many times when I come to the end of the day and wonder just where things went haywire! The day usually starts well enough. This verse is in Jeremiah. God also allowed for Shawn and me to be the parents of these two children. Their peaceful. It reminds me that ALL is in God’s care and in His hands. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you. He is in charge of all things. God has a wonderful plan for our daughters’ futures. or He wouldn’t have entrusted them to our care. My life is not something random. He planned for me to be the person that I am. Worry has plagued many of my days and nights. sleeping faces ease the pain of the . plans to give you hope and a future. and then some little thing goes wrong and the whole day goes sour after that. and me. and I have written it on the back of an old photo of the girls that is tucked inside my Bible. I cling to this promise in Jeremiah and the knowledge that He has a plan for a hope and a future for our children and us.” declares the Lord. It also reminds me that He created my children. in spite of my bumps and flaws.” This verse is a wonderful comfort to me. and intentions are good. for a purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says: “For I know the plans I have for you.WHEN SHOULD I SEE A DOCTOR? 15 our own childhood lacked. and He must think that we are up for the task. Worry seems to go hand in hand with this. too.

All of them. Jesus. and my constant failure to meet those expectations. to them who are called according to his purpose. There is one worry that we can lay to rest right now. but it doesn’t need to overwhelm us. and it is then that this verse encourages me greatly. We are all errant humans making our way through our parenting experience as best as we know how. our disappointments and our joys.16 FIRST AID PARENTING frustrations and mistakes of the day and remind me of the precious gift that God has given me. is on call 24/7 and He loves to hear our concerns.” Worry may continue to plague us all from time to time in our parenting experience. I feel the heaviness of the responsibility often. We read in Romans 8:28 (KJV): “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God. A great deal of my worry as a parent also stems from the expectations that I have of myself. I worry a great deal about what I am doing to raise my children. and if I am making the right decisions. and that is when to see the doctor. He truly does have the answers for all of our worries! . the Great Physician.

Our lives today are so busy that this fevered pitch seems normal. household chores and career demands. from one task on our to-do list to the next. my sister and my sisters-in-law what our biggest frustration is as moms. Modern technology can be a blessing and a curse. We all live this way. right? I wish that I could say that my life was calm. There just isn’t enough time in the day to get done what needs to get done. my friends with children. Most parents today juggle childcare. and then move feverishly on to the next ones. but it definitely is not. feverishly. we now have countless “time-saving devices. life is so busy that it demands we live it at a feverish pace—always rushing. We parents seem to be running a collective fever! If you were to ask me. so there mustn’t be any other choice in the matter. Our families are smaller than they were a hundred years ago. cool and fully under control on a daily basis. Our family loves our Web camera and the ability it gives us to talk “face to face” with grandparents and Shawn when he 17 . I can almost guarantee that our answers would all be the same: not enough time! The demands on a modern parent’s time are tremendous and they are even bigger than they were a generation or two ago.” and yet we seem to spend even less time with our children than ever before. We rush through tasks leaving them half finished.❦ Fever Have you ever felt like you are constantly running a temperature? I mean.

though. by nature. or our appearance at the expense of our children. then your life will be unbalanced. If you have a deadline looming at work. it helps to realize that balancing the demands on my time is not always going to work. and life does go much more smoothly when we sleep for eight of those 24 hours. First.18 FIRST AID PARENTING is away from home. and here are a few of the things that have worked for me. then it is time to reassess your priorities. On the rare day that my home. I feel truly blessed. Balance is a fantastic goal because God certainly did not design us to be completely focused on our work. our homes. Allowing yourself to let go of the notion of perfect daily balance will let you ignore the pile of dirty laundry in favor of a spontaneous summer day at the beach.” and before I know it an hour has vanished! Each day is only 24 hours long. If your life is always unbalanced. is often temporarily unbalanced. exercise for 60 minutes. spring clean the house and meet a pressing deadline all on the same day. and it is also wrought with somewhat unrealistic expectations from ourselves. This is a constant struggle. Technology can also be a time robber. work and family duties all fall into place beautifully and peacefully. It seems like everyone is talking about time management and finding the balance in life. but I have worked diligently in recent years to bring my temperature down. What can we do to keep our temperature down during the remaining busy 16 hours? I am definitely not an expert in this area. It will take a lot of the heat off! One of the best things that I have . Thinking that you can live every day in perfect balance is unrealistic. Life. Most of us cannot cook a gourmet meal. letting go of the goal of perfect balance every day has helped me a lot. or your taxes are still undone and it is April 14. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve sat down at my desk “just to check my e-mail. However.

like me. Shawn and I have also made a concerted effort to not let our children take on too many activities. you’ve probably heard it a hundred times before. and our children’s lives are. but it really does bring the temperature down a lot. but all the while they are smiling and content. music lessons and church activities are more than enough for their young lives. and people will be unhappy when we say no. School. A few years ago. I could not help but think of how “cluttered” my own life. It was truly a life-changing experience. I made a conscious decision to simplify our lives. While there. I also kept a pregnancy journal through my first pregnancy and thoroughly enjoyed it. but after Naomi was born. It has been a welcome time of peace and serenity in my feverish schedule. Shawn and I had the privilege of visiting a poor country (I can’t tell you where because it is illegal to preach there) to share the gospel and to help build several churches. but I have found that it is getting easier! Before our children were born I faithfully kept a journal. but saying no is just what might be best for our children. Often I have fallen short. but I try to get back on track and stay focused. but after Natalie was born. I am not as thorough as I once was.FEVER 19 done recently is to start saying “no” to others and to take better charge of my schedule. . I know that. I managed to keep a journal through my second pregnancy. but my journal is a place where I can express my thoughts. and while there we were struck by how happy the children were! They live in shacks and run around in bare feet. There are always demands on our time. It wasn’t until just a few months ago that I began journaling again and it has been a wonderful blessing to me. I convinced myself that journaling was a luxury that I did not have the time for anymore. my journaling became very sporadic. Saying no is extremely difficult for me.

so what if I spent just 10 short minutes a day reading my Bible? I printed off a reading program for reading the Bible in a year and told myself that I would . I stopped thinking of it as something on my to-do list that I had to get in before I could move on to the next task. I tried getting up early and reading in the morning. The biggest time-related frustration I’ve faced is to find time for my spiritual life.” she reassured me.20 FIRST AID PARENTING fears. “It’s okay. “I think that God winks at young mothers because he knows that there just isn’t time in the day!” That eased a lot of my guilt. invariably. I always carried a great load of guilt over this until one day a friend. That worked fairly well for a while until our youngest learned that if she got up early. but there never seemed to be time for me. Bible in hand. shared with me that she too had struggled when her children were young. she could snuggle with mommy on the couch and ask her lots of questions. and began to think of it as my time of renewal. whose children were now grown. also a pastor’s wife. hopes and thanksgivings freely. It has always been a very special family time. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to flip back through the pages and enjoy again the blessings that I recorded. and then bring them to God in prayer. alone. to read the Bible and pray. too. but I knew that I needed my quiet time with God. I would fall asleep. I tried many different things in those early years of parenting. and to see how God has been working in my life by answering my requests and helping me solve my problems. I always seemed to have the time to steal 10 minutes to surf the Internet or catch one of my favorite cooking shows on TV. I tried reading in the evening but. We began reading Bible stories to our girls and having morning and evening worship with them since before they could walk.

It is the best fever reducer going! . It has been a great source of strength and comfort to me.FEVER 21 follow the plan. but would take as much time as I needed. Any time with God was better than none. I now feel so much better equipped to handle my feverishly paced life. God always leads me to read something that I need for that day. to help me at work or with the children.

while on vacation. I don’t recall the details of the incident. or just interacting with them. Our relationships with our children contain at least a few fractures and sprains. Our Heavenly Father is the same. through my relationship with my children. my Redeemer. I was hurrying the girls along into bed when a tussle broke out between them. or a lack thereof! Often. Shawn and I both seem to struggle with the same thing with our children—and that is patience.❦ Fractures and Sprains In spite of our greatest desires and best intentions. hot day in the car and we were all tired by the time we got into our hotel room. and His love is undying for His children. no matter how grievous. This past summer. fractures and sprains in relationships with our kids can be fixed without casts and slings. We had spent a long. and their love for their parents never falters in spite of our imperfections. I was reminded afresh about just how impatient I can sometimes be. but I do remember hastily coming to the conclusion that Naomi 22 . My children are amazingly quick to forgive. we have acted too hastily with the girls when resolving disputes. I have learned a lot about God. Unlike a fractured collarbone or sprained ankle. I could fill volumes with a retelling of all of the mistakes that I have made as a parent. no parent is perfect. He is always ready to forgive us for our mistakes. I have made so many mistakes as a mom that I am humbled daily.



must be the offender, and swiftly applying retribution for the crime. Naomi wailed and mournfully declared her innocence, just as Shawn walked in the room. She pled to her daddy for justice and, sure enough, she was right and I was wrong. I felt terrible! A few sniffles later, though, I was gladly forgiven and daddy made all well again by letting her eat a Kit Kat in the bathtub to make up for mommy’s premature judgment. By no means was this my finest hour as a parent, but the fracture wasn’t permanent. My daughter forgave me, and her daddy showed her a picture of what God is like because He, too, is always on the side of truth. In my journey as a parent I have learned so much from God and His Word on how to heal the inevitable fractures and sprains. I have learned so much about God and His character. Most importantly, I have learned that it is okay to apologize and say you are sorry. Our girls are so incredibly willing and able to forgive our transgressions that it humbles and amazes me. It is never an easy thing to say you are sorry, but I am finding that it gets easier when I realize just how much my daughters love me and are willing to forgive. Some of our best talks come after an open and willing apology from each of us. The walls then come down and we can talk about whatever is behind the incident that caused the problem in the first place. In the Bible, God calls this willingness to apologize and forgive repentance. Repentance is a genuine remorse for wrongdoing and is accompanied by a strong desire to not make the same mistake again. This does not mean that we will never make the same mistake again, but it does mean that our heart has turned away from the sin. This repentance comes directly from God Himself. He wants us to turn our back on sin, and He is longing for us to come to Him and ask for His forgiveness, for He is willing and able to grant it.



So, as a parent, what can we expect from God when we make mistakes? I think it is important to realize that when you are a parent you are “job-sharing” with God. Our children are on loan from Him. He tells us to be the teacher. He’ll be the coach and He will be tech support. God is not just on our side—He is the coach! I wish that this meant that I would never make a mistake with my children again, but the Bible is clear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” As parents, we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. In other areas of our lives we freely accept that we are not perfect, but yet somehow we feel that we should be perfect parents. The reality is that those fractures and sprains are going to keep happening. Hopefully we learn from the mistakes and, with God’s help, the fractures happen less often and heal quickly. Just as our precious little ones are so willing to forgive, so is God. In 1 John 1:9 it says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is the best kind of healing, and it doesn’t require so much as a bandage!

In our early years of ministry, Shawn and I lived and worked in Northern British Columbia, at mile zero of the Alaska Highway. The Northern Lights were magnificent and our quiet drives to and from our three little churches were special times. While we were working there, we met a man who had lost one of his legs. He shared his story with us. He had been snowmobiling in the bush one winter when his snowmobile broke down. He was unable to fix the machine and the temperature was at least 45 degrees below zero Celsius. Far away from any town, he had to assess his situation. How soon would someone be by to ask for help? There was no way of knowing. He waited, alone, in the subzero weather for a little while, but quickly realized that if he didn’t start walking to the nearest town, he would die from the extreme cold. Alone, he began walking and after several hours arrived at the town, exhausted and frostbitten. They tried to save his leg, but eventually it had to be amputated. The cold had damaged it beyond saving. That story has stuck with me over the years. I admire the courage it took for him to walk to safety. We are fragile creatures when we are alone, isolated, and especially when we are at the mercy of the elements. Parents today, more than ever, are taking care of their children alone. Single parent families are much more common than they were even a generation ago, and extended family support systems are less common.

I had no one to help. The car waits until he is gone to suddenly quit in the grocery store parking lot. but it is still important that everyone understands that this time away is essential to the parent’s work.26 FIRST AID PARENTING This isolation in parenting is not easy. but we have learned to cope with it in different ways over the years. It sometimes feels like the inanimate objects in our world know when Shawn is away. In other families. obviously. Single parents are responsible for every aspect of rearing their children and I imagine it must often be a lonely and difficult task. This number. and it was a challenge we happily accepted. It has not always been easy. or watch them. We knew that this was going to be a part of our lives that we would have to manage carefully while raising a family. There are several practical things that have made isolation easier for our little family. Shawn traveled extensively for his work. Military men and women may need to be away from home for an entire year. caring for the household and the children. it is important to the whole family that everyone knows that absences are kept to only those that are essential. Isolation and loneliness can be real challenges when raising a family. so that I could just run out and get medicine or juice! Isolation has not been an easy part of parenting. and that the parent does not accept assignments away from home lightly. work frequently takes one of the parents away from home and the other parent is alone. We have made it a practice that from the youngest age. we include our daughters in the discussions of why daddy is away. and the air conditioner quits when he is on the other side of the world! When the girls were little. In the first place. it was especially hard for me when one or both of them were sick. We talk to them about how he is helping people to . Before we had children. varies widely from family to family.

I didn’t want anyone dragging me down into a pity party. and show them what it looks like outside his window. but I have never let that show around the girls. been extremely positive about Shawn’s travel. give the girls a “tour” of his hotel room. generally they are very brave. I save the tears and frustration until after they are in bed at night. too. I made a conscious decision to only surround myself with friends who were supportive and encouraging about Shawn’s absences. and with the Web camera. When possible. We visit the library and read books about the people and the culture of the places in which Shawn is working. We also make it clear to them that their sacrifice of not having their dad at home for a little while means that they are doing an important job. we will visit him for a part of the time. Our daughters have accepted this assignment gladly. has a tremendous influence on how the children perceive the other parent’s absence. Shawn was able to call home from the depths of the Canadian Arctic last year! We both have Web cameras on our computers and we use these often. and although there are days when they just miss their dad and wish that he were home. I have. from the beginning. We are working together for the good of the family. in our case me. There are a few little things that I do daily while Shawn is away that together make the difference between miserable isolation and tolerable aloneness. and that they are helping the whole family. and often on long stints away from home. too. . The parent at home. There have been days where I have felt like I just couldn’t go through another day alone. Now with satellite phone service. When we moved a few years ago. and this has helped me considerably.ISOLATION 27 learn about Jesus. Shawn will even pick up his laptop. we accompany Shawn on short trips. Modern technology has been a tremendous practical blessing.

but generally. through trial and error. I do save certain things for when he is gone. keeping to the same routine gives a sense of comfort and regularity for the children. And so. even when alone. He is always available to listen. One of my favorite verses is Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV): “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you.” God Himself is always with me. Right now we have to be away from Him. When Natalie was two she fell in love with chocolate pudding! The girl could eat it every day if I let her and so I rationed her by saying that I would only buy it when daddy was away. that he is away often enough that it works best if we stick to our usual household routine. and even now I still buy them chocolate pudding when Shawn is gone. Do not be afraid. isolation is. never a factor! I love the verse in Hebrews 13:5 (NIV). do not be discouraged. teaches us about God. such as sleepovers with friends and certain outings. Every obstacle in our lives. this has stuck over the years. and especially in our parenting experience. too: . no matter how alone I perceive myself to be. he will never leave you nor forsake you. For some reason. Shawn’s absences remind us of Jesus and His work. He uses these challenges to draw us closer to Him.28 FIRST AID PARENTING I’ve also learned. Just as the parent who is away is still caring for and providing for the family. It is a beautiful picture. but He still provides. He is preparing a future for us. just as the absent parent is doing for the family. to share my frustrations with and to encourage me. My strength and hope while parenting in isolation has always been that I’m never actually parenting in isolation. in the end. I am never alone. Jesus is working with us and for us in heaven.

never will I forsake you.” God is the cure for isolation! He is the source of strength and power for the parent who is parenting alone.ISOLATION 29 “…never will I leave you. .

dinner. bright and glowing in the evening sky. “Look at the shape of the moon. Laughter really is still the best medicine. while driving to Natalie’s piano lesson. and weighs heavily on us a lot of the time. We were still laughing when we arrived at the piano studio! A good belly laugh is one of the best feelings in the world. These kinds of days are typical. They oohed and aahed appropriately and then Naomi said. what do they teach you at school?” I started laughing hysterically. isn’t it? All of the cares of the last few hours seem to melt away. then heading home for homework. “Maybe the aliens are using their flashlights and lighting up only part of the moon!” Before I could say a thing. who were riding in the back seat. going to the office. never mind laugh! The day ends with everyone seriously underdosed with joy.” I said to Natalie and Naomi. Natalie retorted. picking up the girls from school.❦ Underdosing on the Best Medicine A few weeks ago. and as parents. A typical day at our house involves me hurrying the girls out to the car on time for school. I had a magnificent view of a crescent moon. and the girls joined me. running to the classroom because we are late. baths and bedtime. Time pressures and demands can consume every waking moment. but 30 . piano practice. Whew…barely a second to catch our breath. too often we underdose on it! The responsibility that we bear for the well being of our children is huge. “Naomi.

Jesus—God—is the embodiment of justice.UNDERDOSING ON THE BEST MEDICINE 31 everyone is happier when they get a dose of joy in the mix of even the busiest days. I can imagine Martha.” Wow! I can imagine that took a minute or two for Martha to understand and accept. It became a wonderful time of fellowship. and might surprise you. and where was her sister? She should have been helping. you are worried and troubled about many things. and she approached Jesus and said. Martha was upset. and Mary has chosen that good part. but instead she was seated among the others. alone in the kitchen.” I can feel the frustration in Martha’s voice. “Lord. and these demands are often overwhelming. listening to Jesus. I’ve been there myself many a time. These sisters. We have huge demands on our time. She was overwhelmed—alone and desperate for help. Martha. as found in the Bible. Martha was busy rushing about in the kitchen getting the food ready and serving her many guests. were all friends of Jesus. too. slamming down a pot and muttering to herself. do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me. It is best to take time for God and for the pleasures that He has . “Martha. Let’s take a look at the story of sisters Martha and Mary. She pled to Jesus for justice. This story is a wonderful reminder that the joys of life are often fleeting. indeed. and many of Jesus’ followers gathered in their home to listen to Him. myself included. Jesus was in their village and so Martha invited him to their home for a meal. and their brother Lazarus. but His answer surprised Martha. Motherhood seems to bring out the “Martha” in many women. But one thing is needed. He said. One afternoon. which will not be taken away from her. Jesus had reminded her that He was more important than making sure that each guest had a refill of grape juice.

I had her all bundled up in her snowsuit and we were ready to go somewhere with daddy. He is a loving Father. a sinful child. accompanying Shawn on a trip. my Heavenly Father. arky…” She was all smiles and then it happened…a giggle! My heart leapt for joy. I sang the song again and there was another giggle. Shawn was late picking us up. because it is a reminder that God is my creator. Then there is the memory of the time that Natalie first laughed. If God had wanted robots. and so I was sitting on the bottom step on the stairs. he will rejoice over thee with joy.” God joys over us with singing! That verse is a wonderful comfort to me. bouncing her on my lap and singing “God told old Noah. after the welcome home hugs. our heads down. For some reason.32 FIRST AID PARENTING provided for us in life. She puts so much gusto into puckering up her little lips and smacking them against our cheeks at night. but I imagine that God Himself likes to laugh. is Naomi’s good night kiss. When I’m away from home. that there is nothing in the world like it. I should certainly have the time to joy over my beautiful children. By the time Shawn got there. plowing through an impossible to-do list. and not an absent taskmaster. my favorite moment home. My greatest doses of joy in life come from the little things. he would have created us that way! I can’t prove it. Really! Like Naomi’s goodnight kisses. he will joy over thee with singing. Look at Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV): “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. he will rest in his love. Natalie and I . God doesn’t want us to go through our lives miserable. to build him an arky. he will save. and if He takes the time to joy over me. and to set our inner Marthas aside and experience the joy of living.

I love to laugh. I asked the girls if they would care for broccoli or carrots with their “tea” this evening. One day this past year. “Yes. the girls and I were all overtired and cranky. “Mommy. if that is possible. . I’ve been making a conscious effort to move myself out of my comfort zone. so much of my time with them is “scheduled” time where we have to conquer homework or chores. So. wherever I can. So. and into the silly zone. I had to hop up and work on dinner at one point. Just before Christmas is the busiest time of the year for our family. We were sitting at the table trying to get homework done. love. and all of our moods improved! I think we overdosed on joy that evening. They know that daddy equals fun. and we were all miserable. With both girls in school now. It was going to be Christmas soon. or something similar. By nature I am not a goofy person.” asked Natalie. Their little faces lit up and their shoulders straightened. Shawn is the expert in the silliness department. though.UNDERDOSING ON THE BEST MEDICINE 33 were both laughing over and over. Fun. “was that YOU talking?” I replied. I forced myself WAY out of my comfort zone and in my most exaggerated British accent. staying true to my newfound British character. but I’m rarely the person who initiates the silliness. He can make the girls giggle just by crossing his eyes or winking. Would you care for a biscuit?” I kept up the silliness until bedtime. and he normally has no problem getting his daily dose of joy. Natalie still has a really infectious giggle and it brings wonderful joy to my heart whenever I hear it. their long faces and slumped shoulders seemed so wrong for such young kids. I’ve been getting my joy doses in little bursts. He loves to be Mr. As I looked back at the kitchen table.

I get great joy reading the funny things that the girls have said. I think of my journal as a joy journal. and over and over again.” “Wow. “No. but I know that he enjoyed playing with those Legos as much as they did. but daddy enjoyed it even more! We bought a big tub of Legos the next day and Shawn and the girls spent hours building houses. Mommy?” I replied. and I could fill this entire volume with ones that just our two have come up with. not tonight honey. and so when I finally got her to eat some soup and a piece of bread for supper. Shawn said that it was for them. I was thrilled. “you’re way nicer to me when I’m sick!” I laughed then. Kids say the funniest things. and again every time I read it—getting a dose of joy every time! .” she answered.34 FIRST AID PARENTING On summer vacation a few years ago. When Shawn is away. This is from one of my recent journal entries: Naomi was sick for a few days and hadn’t eaten anything. we splurged a little and took the girls to Legoland. “Do I have to eat my crust. They enjoyed it. towers and even a lion. he will often call home and give the girls a little “silliness pep talk”—just enough to hold them over until he comes home! Journaling lets me experience my joys over and over again. She mostly picked the potatoes out of her soup and left her bread crust on her plate and then asked.

he or she is being trained to be a good. to help you to grow up to be 35 . in my opinion. I feel terribly uncomfortable when another parent is. and they typify why the subject of discipline is so complex and full of emotion. Disciplining a child is like using preventive medicine! When a child is disciplined lovingly and consistently. and a child starts to misbehave. or comes down on the kid with a crushing blow to their spirit. when the parent is conciliatory toward a rebellious child. One parent’s definition of harsh might be another’s definition of lenient. haven’t we? The child misbehaving doesn’t usually bother me too much. I’m always just glad that it is not my child causing the scene that day. The awkward part begins when the parent either ignores the blatant rebellion. or to ground them from an activity. I cringe and fidget and just want to be anywhere but there. Shawn and I don’t like to send our daughters to the corner. moral and law abiding adult. unduly harsh with their child. “Would you please do something to make that kid stop?” Both extremes are awkward.❦ Preventive Medicine There are a few awkward situations in life that make us all uncomfortable. We’ve all been in that position before. “I don’t like to punish you. Likewise. It is terrible. and here is one of them. I can’t count how many times I have told them. but we know that it is in their best interest. but it is my job. I feel like screaming. as your mommy. You are at a friend’s house. or in a public place.

I wish that this preventive medicine would be a little less painful. finding the balance is really important. can make the difference between a happy home and a miserable one. It is easier to not discipline. On innumerable occasions I have been in the middle of a task. “Kind but firm” is the balance that we are comfortable with in our home. and it is easy to crush their spirits if they are treated harshly.” They hear it often. and I regularly have to act as referee around our house. too. At the same time. our motto is “kind but firm. more often than not. There are many days when I wish that I didn’t have to discipline my girls. Finding the right balance. but they probably won’t understand until they are nice. and consistently adhering to it. or that maybe we could just skip it altogether. Our children are only perfect when they are sleeping. it is our parental duty to provide them with a framework in which to live and act. as I’ve faced a defiant little angel! Shawn and I are both strong-minded (read: stubborn) and.36 FIRST AID PARENTING a nice lady. In the short term it is much easier to let things slide. but my goal is simple. Consistent. when a . answering an e-mail or getting dinner ready. teeth clenched. When disciplining our children. Preventive medicine is part of the burdensome side of parenting. I send them to their rooms for a time out and. it is because mommy needs a time out to think things over and cool down. grown up ladies! When doling out some preventive medicine.” I have literally chanted these words to myself. not surprisingly. so are our two offspring! When things get really heated with our girls. I’ve certainly not been a model parent in this area. I know that if it were put to a vote. Children are very trusting of their parents. fair discipline takes a lot of work. the girls would certainly relegate it to the history books.

but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. in the real world. The Bible is clear when it says in Proverbs 13:24 (ESV): “He who spares the rod hates his son. Like anything worth having in life. I wait awhile and see if they resolve it themselves. It would be so much easier to let it slide. It is much better that they learn the consequences for their actions now. The consequences of fighting with your sister are much easier to take than the consequences of fighting with your boss. I wearily march upstairs and dish out a little preventive medicine. you are shortchanging them. than to reap the consequences of stealing in the adult world. I hear Natalie holler. rather than later as an adult where. It is better that they learn not to “borrow” a toy from the kindergarten room. So. the dad is the “alpha male” in the family. Perhaps this is because fathers have deeper voices and are generally less involved in the daily nurturing of children. and I cringe! I want to ignore it. but the principle is the same: if you fail to discipline your child. or Naomi squeal. but in my heart I know that I would be doing them a disservice. and the children look to him for guidance and a strict adherence to the family rules of conduct. long-term consequences are harsh. but if it continues. in the confines of a loving family. but it is the right thing to do. pretend that I didn’t hear it and actually finish an entire job without an interruption. The traditional role of the father gives him a . taking the time for preventive medicine isn’t always easy. how do the roles of mom and dad differ when it comes to the issue of discipline? Typically.PREVENTIVE MEDICINE 37 fight breaks out upstairs.” The idea of using a rod is unthinkable to most modern parents.

and then he comes home and gets to be the fun parent! My feelings aside. Preventive medicine is ineffective when children receive inconsistent. but the principles that I follow are the same. It is better that they learn to respect their parents now. The mother’s role in teaching and correcting the children is equally important. In our family. even when daddy isn’t home. From my point of view.” God desires that fathers raise their children. We work together to provide a consistent and united front. it is unhealthy for one parent to undermine the wishes of the other. Also. . than to learn the lesson later when disrespecting a police officer or a judge. he means it. Fun! He loves to play and goof around. teaching them in love how to be responsible adults. Shawn is Mr. do not provoke your children to anger. Sometimes I feel like I have to be the big meanie. I know that it is important that our family expectations and rules are consistent. or contradictory doses! I have seen the pain and confusion that it causes. because by my nature I am the nurturing. My approach to specific situations might be different from his. but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. the children know that daddy stands behind my decision. The Bible has some very clear instruction for fathers. Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) says: “Fathers. even if he is not home. With Shawn gone so often. the bulk of the correction and teaching of the girls becomes my responsibility. and also to learn of God and His love. The girls know that when daddy asks something of them.38 FIRST AID PARENTING voice of authority. caregiving parent. and that disrespecting him is not an option. but he is also the final court of appeal when it comes to discipline.

Consistent preventive medicine lovingly. kindly and firmly given by both parents gives the child an inoculation against future heartache. Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go. .” This is a promise that we can claim and then cling to. but the results last a lifetime. It sets the child up for an unhappy home life in the future. It isn’t always easy to administer. and when he is old he will not turn from it. and it is a terrible inheritance.PREVENTIVE MEDICINE 39 A child that grows up in a family where one parent disrespects and contradicts the other is learning to disrespect and belittle their future spouse.

Shawn had already found us a house! We had to wait for a month until we could move into it. The pill was an adult extra strength Tylenol. but spit out. Canada. and so we gladly accepted the kind invitation of friends to stay in their home while we waited. I grabbed the little pill and saw that very little had been eaten. and moved on faith. It was hectic with escrow paperwork. to Southern California. and so we put all of our things in storage in Toronto. Good! Then. One evening. I was busy in the kitchen when I suddenly realized that the house was VERY quiet. She was sitting on the bathroom floor. probably not swallowed. We had been unable to find a home here in California before we made our move. I agreed to prepare dinner while the rest of the adults were at work. we moved from Toronto. but there were a few loose pills on the bottom of the open drawer beside her. I found Naomi. and Shawn starting a new job. God was working mightily. stressful and exciting time. It was a busy. I still don’t know where exactly they came from. 40 . and looking at her shirt. but her mouth was empty. I panicked! I plunged my fingers into her mouth to see if more were inside. and I had no way of knowing how many she had eaten. a half eaten pill in her hand. I went to check on the girls and found Natalie quietly looking at a picture book.❦ Poisons When Naomi was just 20 months old. and before the girls and I had even arrived. immigration paperwork.

Any medium that allows this work to be done cannot be all bad. you could get three. because we use television to tell the world about God and His love each week. A blood test. None of the Tylenol had made it into her system. explicit ads in stores and on the Internet. and not to touch anything with a skull and crossbones on the label.POISONS 41 I wasn’t ready to take a chance. When the children are little. if you wiggled the rabbit ears just right. Most of what we watched seems harmless by today’s standards. size and color. The standards for acceptable family viewing . Spiritual poisons permeate our modern world and are impossible to completely avoid. Most of the programming was appropriate for the family to watch. and for saving her from the poison! Poisons are all around our children. He was back shortly and we took Naomi to the ER. and so I phoned Shawn right away. and an ECG later. of course. Television. When they get a little older. The physical poisons are usually quite easy to control.” I prayed to God that night and praised him for keeping our baby out of harm’s way. When Shawn and I were children. “She is a lucky little girl. and the inappropriate stuff was at least relegated to the later time slots. and materialism in every shape. Television can be both a blessing and a poison. are the ones that poison the soul. The poisons that are much more evasive. or cable channels. we keep the poisons locked up and out of their reach. sometimes. and eternally harmful. we teach them to read labels. I cannot say that all television is poisonous. The modern world is full of them: inappropriate television programs. we discovered that she was just fine. A Tylenol overdose in young children can be fatal. however. we both remember having two channels and. Praise God! It was only once we were sure that she was okay that the nurse told me. is much different than it was even just one generation ago.

and so the question becomes. but more often than not. There are so many fantastic programs on DVD nowadays. This kind of poison may seem innocent. but most of us have at least one in the house. it has helped me to remember who is the boss! I am still the parent. and so I am learning to love it right along with them! When it comes to TV and the Internet. On our satellite system there is a family package that offers only family appropriate channels. and they put the modern parent in a unique position. mouthy. but it is harmful. You may be one of the rare families in North America that has banished the TV from your home. last time I checked. that our girls get to grow up watching Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons. the advertisements are hideously inappropriate. and which programs are poisonous? The first choice has to be to control what kind of TV comes into the house. No matter the package or lineup that you choose. we choose a DVD. There are options. and it makes me feel like there is just no way to win! The children in many “kids” programs are whiny. Often. when we sit down to watch something. We have a few favorite family TV shows that we are comfortable with watching. cutting class. We decided we didn’t need all 7. even when a family friendly program is playing. and I have the right to say “no” to certain . and making fun of their parents. and really there is no excuse not to. how do we control it? What is educational and innocent.42 FIRST AID PARENTING have changed dramatically.000 channels that the cable guy wanted to sell us. I’m just a little bit too young to remember The Waltons. it is really easy nowadays to block inappropriate channels from little eyes. Natalie figured out long ago that certain websites play long TV clips. The Internet is no better. It can be a vehicle for good. nonetheless.

and so it is a particular problem in our family. During the school year.” Shawn teased. Just like we put the cleaning supplies up high when children are little. It fit her to a T and came down to her ankles. our TV rarely comes on during weekdays. “are you vain?” Natalie batted her eyelashes at herself in the mirror and quickly replied. a friend traveled to Brazil and brought her back a beautiful little dress. Shawn and I giggled. too. but our materialistically oriented world seems to teach kids that it is! We live in Southern California. and how much. Our kids are exposed to a lot more stuff than we ever were just a generation ago. sparkly things. and the first dose of preventive medicine that I dole out is the loss of TV privileges. It is the first thing to go! It is difficult to negotiate TV privileges with an emotional child. and to decide whether or not the TV comes on. It is difficult to keep the children grounded. when the emphasis on “things” is all . I have found that careful guidance is really necessary. or how many games they play on the Internet. Life is just too busy. Natalie has a natural love for pretty. arguably the most materialistic society of our present age. When she was barely two years old. TV viewing needs parental monitoring! Natalie has always loved to dress up and look pretty. TV they watch. Having more stuff is not the road to happiness. because the first infraction of the week. Children are not the best judges of what kind of. “Natalie. because our modern world is so incredibly geared toward materialism. but it is very important. It just seems to be a part of her genetic makeup. I’ve had a hand in this. I’m gorgeous!” We’ll probably still be teasing her about that one when we’re 80. and most of the time this is innocent and sweet—but not always.POISONS 43 programs. “I’m not vain. As Natalie was twirling in her new dress and admiring herself in the mirror.

and the girls decided to draw pictures and set up an art gallery.44 FIRST AID PARENTING around them. There are a few constant challenges. Naomi loves dogs and is particularly attached to a friend’s border collie. Shawn. always ready to encourage a little entrepre-neurship in his girls. sleepy days between Christmas and the New Year. Kali. we invited Kali to the party along with all of Naomi’s little friends. Society’s modern materialistic expectations are so high. and are willing to put ourselves into terrible debt to have everything that we want right away. and nice clothes to wear. and so the kids had a great time petting the dog. Living in a materialistically obsessed world makes it difficult to keep our priorities straight. we talk to them a lot about making good choices.” but instead try to think creatively to give my girls memorable. reasonable parties. like birthday parties. We talk freely about what it is like for families in other parts of the world. though. Some of their friends have nice. Her birthday is in the spring. Since raising our daughters in a bubble isn’t an option. and playing an assortment of party games in the backyard—then chasing the dog all through the house! It was simple. She wanted to have a doggy party. but sane. but there have been a few that are just over the top! I don’t allow myself to feel the pressure to “compete. It was one of those quiet. We had a good lesson in money priorities over Christmas break last year. They even offered commissioned originals. but Naomi was very happy. parties. and about how blessed we are to live in the West and to have enough food to eat. This lifestyle can easily translate to our children. and the sales pitches began. and can poison their sense of priorities. and since we don’t have a dog. of course. gladly put in a couple . We don’t want to do without anything. but it isn’t impossible. we could put in our orders. The pictures were all for sale.

other than a little bit from their allowance each week. and he discovered that they both had empty wallets! “Where is all of your money?” he asked. and so did I. They ran upstairs. but the girls have now taken up the challenge with gusto. and that they’ll probably always remember this. I do believe that they are learning. Shawn put the money in the envelopes and it was decided that there was to be no more free spending of money. He got out a little binder and a couple of envelopes. but are still not there. Shawn took out the money for the art. three months have passed and they are getting close. and set up an account sheet for each of them. though. This news did not go over well at first. and was getting ready to pay them their price. but they got a little refresher course. . because I had let them spend their money and had not kept track of how quickly it was going. Shawn’s generosity suddenly vanished when the girls appeared.POISONS 45 of orders. until they had each managed to save $100. I must admit that I was at least a little to blame. He sent the girls to their rooms to get their wallets. and Shawn was feeling generous. flabbergasted. We were having fun. The poison of materialism is insidious. plus a little bonus. but didn’t hand it over. “We both spent our money. The girls already understood what tithing is.” Natalie answered matterof-factly. and Shawn got his wallet out. Naomi nodding beside her. and it takes a little tough slugging to fight against it. At the time of this writing.

Our world was created as a perfect paradise. Worship time is a safe. and particularly from choosing the bad? An inoculation is the introduction of an antigen into the body to create immunity to a particular disease.❦ Inoculations The world that our Creator made for us is full of wonder and beauty. what is the antigen against sin? Certainly. and closer to our Heavenly Father. It is through family worship. and all that is bad is a result of sin. comfortable time to learn about God and what He has planned for our lives. It was only after sin came into it that the disease and poison affected God’s perfect design. All that is still good in our world comes from God. she rarely forgets it. God’s love is free and readily available as a daily inoculation against sin and the big bad world. it is the love of God. Natalie has an incredible memory. During worship time she 46 . free way to daily inoculate our children and expose them to the antigen. and unless we live on a deserted island. How do we as parents protect our children from the bad. our children are in contact with them every day. sadly. In our family we have discovered a wonderful. and to learn from each other. is a wonderful way to inoculate children against the big bad world. full of disease and poison. too. It is a safe time for the family to talk about things. and as a family. So. It is also. Worshipping God together brings our family closer to each other. Worshipping God daily. and when she hears something.

mother by his side. Mornings are now crazy busy. and the children gathered round. I lead out in family worship most days. and children are not always sparkling clean or smiling! In our family. I spent a little extra time with them at morning worship time. It is never too early to start! We began reading Bible stories to the girls and folding their little hands inside of ours for prayer when they were less than six months old. make it a part of your life. Parents work shifts and travel. and most days it is just the girls and me. Over the years we’ve changed how we have worship from time to time. Every day. then another Bible story and prayer at their bedside. or a source of frustration or boredom for the children or the parents. and so we’ve changed things. but it is the reality! I challenge you to embrace your family’s plan for worship and. and whatever is comfortable for your family is good.INOCULATIONS 47 loves to teach us what she has learned from the Bible at school. because of Shawn’s work schedule. but it has had a few different forms. and so we have our morning worship at the breakfast table as we’re . Modern families don’t usually fit into that picture perfect stereotype. sparkling clean and smiling. It isn’t ideal. It probably shouldn’t be long. The girls are older now. we would read a story. It is not meant to be a burden. We’ve always had worship in the morning and the evening. We learned long ago to let go of the idealistic picture of family worship—the image of father in a red cardigan and seated next to the fire. and it should focus on the Bible and on a time of prayer. The day would end with a story. We were at home all day and it worked for us. and both reading. if you haven’t already. After breakfast. Family worship can take many different forms. and often bring out props or do a craft to go with it. It was our bedtime routine and it worked. When the girls were toddlers.

candles and our good stemware. It isn’t always easy to find books that are at both Natalie and Naomi’s interest or reading level. inspired by the Jewish tradition. and uplift one another before we head out the door into the big bad world. eat Challah bread. and look forward to each week. but we’ll continue to come to Him morning and night. We have given her the freedom to dictate her personal devotional time. It is a time for the girls to practice their reading skills. We have our evening worship around the dinner table. too! Our patterns of worship work for us right now. We take turns reading out of a devotional book and then another person prays. to ask questions and to talk about whatever is important to them that day. It is a short time. we have a special meal and eat it in the family room around the coffee table. light the fire (if it is winter) and play soft music. The girls and I set the table with a tablecloth. too. but it is very special. . We have the chance to pray for each other. She is eight now. We then close in prayer. and when they stop working we’ll change it up. I’ll be sad when this phase passes and she is independent. A few years ago we started a fun tradition in our house. Natalie has her own devotional reading time. which I think is good for Naomi. It is one that our girls love. or in the family room if we have been lucky enough to eat out that night! We read a Bible storybook together. Naomi is still pretty little and she still likes one of us to read to her and pray with her. We enjoy finger foods. We are drawn closer to God. This is an important part of her building a relationship with God for herself. and so she enjoys reading at bedtime and being in control of this time.48 FIRST AID PARENTING finishing up our toast and juice. and we are inoculated with His love. We read more books aimed at Natalie’s level. but we do read books that are for Naomi’s age level. and so we alternate. At bedtime. Every Friday night. We dim the lights. drink bubbly grape juice and.

though. We linger around the table for quite some time after we’ve finished eating. by talking to the girls about them. When we are away from home the girls miss it. We set my laptop on the couch and it is almost like he’s there! Worship is also something that happens outside of the designated worship times. and to offer Him adoration and praise. in church. and they even talk to each other in terms of one “Challah” to the next—meaning a week’s time. are reminders of God’s love and creativity. He created all of us. The modern world does have its wonderful technological advantages. It has been very encouraging to have friends—who are going through the same things— . Corporate worship. be encouraged and be uplifted through fellowship with likeminded believers. and I love to find things in the world to praise and thank God for. and so we tried it again the next week. It is a part of all that we do. he joins us for Friday night worship by Web camera. I have found that the friends I have made through my church family have helped me tremendously in my parenting experience.INOCULATIONS 49 Before we eat. A church family is an extension of the home. When Shawn is away. Beautiful flowers. We worship God in the small things in life. and He also made us social creatures. or a funny looking bird. and sharing how God created them all for us. Personally. Shawn leads out in family worship. We tried it once and we liked it. We can learn. This particular family worship routine is special to us because it works for our family. and offers a lot of antigens against the bad in the world. day in and day out. and it is a special time. We didn’t plan for this to become a tradition in our family. is also important to our family. I don’t believe that God intended for us to worship Him in a vacuum. and then has a special prayer for our girls. His children. It is a time to draw closer to God.

and to learn from their experiences. but a Bible believing church is a wonderful place to let your children get another inoculation against the big bad world. No church is perfect. . it is made up of errant humans after all.50 FIRST AID PARENTING that I can talk to and bounce ideas off of! It has also been helpful to have friends whose children are grown up.

and it is a God-given determination. I am on an airplane and just beginning a long journey across the Pacific to get back home. the safety video was played and instruction “in the event of an emergency” was given. That is how we are designed to feel about our precious offspring. please secure your own mask first. There may be some crazy-minded people who actually think that the airlines 51 . oxygen masks will appear above your seat. Is it always the right choice. oxygen mask on. a little rebellion always bubbles up in my soul.❦ Hypothermia As I write this. before we took off. in the case of a burning building. even at the cost of our own lives. I would gladly enter any scary situation to save the life of either of my children. As usual.” The video then showed a computer-animated mother. “Yeah. Included in the safety demonstration was the usual reminder that should the cabin pressure fall. calmly assisting her smiling child. Whenever I hear this safety reminder. though? Well. “I would never put my own mask on first in an emergency!” I think that is the typical parental reaction to the situation. right.” I think. This always seems less than comforting to me for some reason! The video then reminded us all that “If you are traveling with someone who needs assistance. and I know that Shawn feels the same way. The children always come first. or a teeming river. I wouldn’t hesitate for a nanosecond. and then you may assist others.

It may take years or months.52 FIRST AID PARENTING are right about the oxygen masks. In the winter. It can lead to spiritual hypothermia. neglect to spend time with Him. or unconsciously. even today in our modern world. too. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us: “Be strong and of good courage…for the Lord your God. and one may sense it coming on. He is always with us. and so I worried about him a lot. We knew that if he were to have a problem with the vehicle that these things could prevent hypothermia. Hypothermia is a real concern and danger in cold climates. There is one area. and that for the most part it is unconscious. he always carried a sleeping bag.” Hypothermia sets in when we consciously. Spiritual hypothermia isn’t only for those who live in cold climates! It sets in slowly and insidiously over time in the absence of the warmth of God’s love. Shawn drove many miles between our three churches. a candle. He is the One who goes with you. When we lived in the northern part of Canada. and keep him alive until help came. He will not leave you nor forsake you. God and His love never leave us. This is in our spiritual lives. like its physical equivalent. We are just too busy! We have a million things to accomplish . or a person might just wake up one morning and find themselves frozen to the warming rays of anything spiritual. matches and a Coleman camping stove with fuel. can be fatal. Much of his driving was on quiet roads with little traffic. though. I think that parents are particularly prone to this problem. in the back of our minivan. that our paternal desire to put our children—and every commitment and chore that comes with parenting— first is definitely wrong. which.

We are His children and He feels that way about us. not to teach a class. I always feel guilty when I take time for myself. but just for us. The housework is never done.HYPOTHERMIA 53 during the day. Just to feel the warmth of God’s love and thrive under His care. It is so easy to set it aside. even at our own expense. says: “How often would I have gathered thy children together. Life is hectic. feeling alone and unhappy. and I certainly have been guilty of being neglectful of my spiritual life at different times. because they are innumerable. We are left to go through the motions of life. There is a verse in the Bible that makes me think that God really understands the nurturing part of the human heart. and there is always at least one item of clothing that needs repair. frustrated. too. even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” God understands the indescribable longing in a parent’s heart to care for and protect one’s children. The results of spiritual hypothermia aren’t pleasant. what are the benefits of a life full of the warmth of God’s love? The benefits are beyond my human capacity to understand fully. I feel that He understands what it is like to care for our children. and children by nature like to scramble our perfectly ordered routines and schedules. verses 7 and 8: . The Bible is full of inspiration and reassurances of God’s love. and then another thousand that we hurriedly squeeze in after the children are asleep! Our schedules are too tightly packed to allow us to take the time that we should to read the Bible and to pray. Matthew 23:37 (KJV). So. and one of my favorite verses is in Jeremiah 17. This verse talks about how God felt when the city of Jerusalem was being destroyed. They come on gradually over time and eventually leave you frozen and joyless. Not for the children.

Somehow these activities feed my soul so incredibly that I end up making up the lost time! I’m not sure if it is because I move faster the rest of the day. and whose hope is the Lord. cranky one. and will not fear when heat comes. For he [or she] shall be like a tree planted by the waters. although that’s not to say that I don’t have my off days. or when I take time to walk. too. or if we are frozen icicles. spiritually alive mother. They are incredibly perceptive little creatures. The accounting of time in debits and credits doesn’t seem to apply when I take time to pray and read my Bible. now that we live in a warm climate. and not a frozen. smart enough or good-looking enough to receive it. but I recently came to a rather obvious. We don’t have to be good enough. I have often struggled with guilt over taking any time for myself in the day. but its leaf will be green. too. The wonderful part about it is that God gives us His warmth and love freely. nor will cease from yielding fruit. I’m far from perfect! We all know. I don’t worry about physical hypothermia anymore. and will not be anxious in the year of drought. which spreads out its roots by the river. eye-opening conclusion.” In my life I have noticed that there are two things that if I make time for them—just for me—I seem to gain back the hours and minutes throughout the day. God’s love and warmth have provided a happy shield against spiritual hypothermia. . The best thing that I can give my children is a content. Like the sun’s warming rays. stiffly going through the motions. and they can discern whether we have the love of God warming us. His love is free to all His children.54 FIRST AID PARENTING “Blessed is the man [or woman] who trusts in the Lord. that children learn by observing us. No one wants to live in a home with a cranky parent. or if I just have a better attitude about not getting through my to-do list. too. and all we need to do is bask in it a little while.

and so He allowed two darling little patience testers to enter my life! I have learned of God’s patience by experiencing my own patience and impatience with my children. of course. It is fast paced. Visit the ER Doctor. who is God Himself. It is also His plan that we draw closer to Him. He is fully aware of each emergency that we encounter. When the girls first learn a new skill. I have learned so much about God by being a parent— things that I don’t think I could have comprehended any other way. God knew that. and He uses each one to teach us more about Him. We don’t worry about the bill. confidant. 55 . I listened patiently for hours as they stumbled over syllables and sentences as they learned to read.❦ The Great Physician Parenting is so often about surviving one emergency after another. healer and Savior. I held their hands tightly as their wobbly little legs fought to take their first steps. because His is free! We visit Him daily. is the Great Physician. teacher. and to have us become closer to Him. it is so easy to be patient with them. and learn more about Him by being parents. The Doctor is our coach. hectic and pushes us into sensory overload! Shawn and I have found that there is absolutely only one way to survive this emergency. The Doctor knows the whole family intimately. The ER Doctor. It was God’s plan to allow us to become parents of His precious children. and visit Him often. and take the kids along.

As it says in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. and yet He is always patient and loving with me. a part of us. It is so very easy to do when tensions are high. sleep is lacking and I’m preoccupied. and I am much better able to understand that now than I was nine years ago. His patience goes beyond what I deserve. How often I have given Him cause to become impatient with me. He is full of joy and love and infinite patience.56 FIRST AID PARENTING I had an infinite amount of patience because I was full of love and joy at my children’s learning and discovery. I had only begun to experience a little piece of heaven. They will always be our children. From the moment I saw Natalie’s tiny fingers and toes swishing fuzzily on the ultrasound monitor. Certainly. There is nothing in this world that either Natalie or Naomi could ever do that would make Shawn or me stop loving them. my heart was changed. Admittedly. So often my patience has grown short with my children when their behavior has been less than model perfect. we could be disappointed or regretful.” God is love. This has taught me so much about the character of God. My own impatience has also taught me about God. God is love. that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. I have even grown impatient with them when I was at fault and they were completely innocent. too. and far beyond my understanding. Parental love of a child is different from any other kind of love. . That is how God is with us. I have let Him down so often. God has taught Shawn and me so much about His love through our experiences as parents. but that would not supersede the love that we have for them.

we were ecstatic. When Natalie was three months old. Shawn and I just could not wait until she rolled over. but our hearts were full of joy. meaningful accomplishments. they are only eight and five. we were watching and coaxing her and suddenly. His love is stronger than a father’s love.THE GREAT PHYSICIAN 57 This is a sinful world and. sadly. It was a day . They are preciously tucked away in our memory banks and make us beam from ear to ear when we remember them together. An outsider might have thought that we were crazy. They are the joys that we share in our daughters’ accomplishments. Not the big things. she did it! She rolled from her side to her tummy all by herself. when Shawn’s voice beckoned me upstairs. I was down in the kitchen tidying up. God’s love is unconditional. We would place her baby blanket on the living room floor. His love is deeper than a mother’s love. The intense love that we feel for our girls is nothing in comparison to the love that God has for each of His children. She was always a determined little thing. not every parent over the years has felt this way about his or her children. It is an awesome thought. allows me to see the scope of God’s love. so they’ve obviously not graduated from Harvard or Yale yet! We rejoice in their small. or the bedroom floor. Finally. am capable of loving my children so fully. It has given us a taste of how God cheers for us. We cheered and cried. Ever. There are a few especially poignant parenting memories that Shawn and I will never forget. and cheer her along as she tried and tried. the fact that I. There is nothing that any of His children could ever do to make Him stop loving them. and joys in our accomplishments. Yet. and she would throw one of her tiny little legs over and try and try. We looked at each other with utter joy and amazement. a sinful human being. one day. Just a few months ago. Anything.

“Well. It was a first grade reader. I mean she’s got a lot of words down. It is often a chore.m. Parenting has a lengthy job description that includes changing wet sheets at 2 a. “read Mommy the book you just read me. how God must joy over our accomplishments. Parenting is a challenge. “she’s learning to read. We have been blessed by this privilege. absolutely glowing with joy. it includes letting our children go.” Shawn insisted. and to teach us about Him. “I did not. “You helped her.” I corrected.” I whispered. and consoling a crying infant on long overseas flights.” he said.” Sparkling with pride. It includes packing lunches that are guaranteed to come home only half-eaten and. We cheered and cried when she was finished. eventually. It was another time of incredible joy! Oh. It includes more emergencies than any of us thought possible before we took on the task! Parenting is also full of the things that matter most in this world. “Naomi.. we listened to our baby read us the entire book. .58 FIRST AID PARENTING off and he and the girls had been goofing off upstairs for a while. and was met by Shawn’s delighted face. I listened as she flawlessly read the first two pages. It is full of joy and love. I went upstairs. Quietly. Shocked. Parenting is part of God’s plan to draw us closer to Him. Naomi opened up an old book we picked up somewhere over the years. “Did you know that Naomi can read?” he asked me.” Shawn furrowed his eyebrows at me and motioned for me to sit down.

Laugh. You’re never far away from God. and say “yes. Repeat! Isolation: Put on headphones. Inoculations: Take family worship outside.” Fractures and Sprains: Swallow your pride and say sorry. interesting and something that cannot go on without you. and find something new to be in awe of God for.❦ Emergency Quick Reference Guide In case of the following emergencies.” Be careful—the request will likely be for something important. try the suggestions below: Fever: The very next request that someone makes of your time. say “no. even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to be uninterrupted. and then try the joke on your spouse later! Preventive Medicine: For a whole day.” even when the request might be inconvenient. close your eyes and listen to a favorite inspirational song. 59 . or longer if you dare. Hypothermia: Give yourself the gift of an hour alone with your Bible. Underdosing on Joy: Find a kindergartener and ask him or her to tell you a joke. Poison: Unplug the TV and declare it “broken” for a whole week. say “no” when you know that it is the right answer. whether the weather is warm or freezing. Hug. say “no. Still.

I will strengthen you. that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. for I am your God.❦ Emergency Help from the Great Physician To Find Peace John 14:27 — “Peace I leave with you. quietness and assurance forever. not as the world gives do I give to you. but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. for He cares for you. than a fatted calf with hatred.” Romans 15:13 — “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing. be not dismayed.” Proverbs 18:24 — “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” To Fight Loneliness Isaiah 41:10 — “Fear not. and the effect of righteousness.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 — “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Isaiah 32:17 — “The work of righteousness will be peace. casting all your care upon Him. that He may exalt you in due time. than great treasure with trouble. my peace I give to you. for I am with you. yes. Let not your heart be troubled.” 60 . Better is a dinner of herbs where love is. I will help you.” Proverbs 15:16-17 — “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord. neither let it be afraid. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

in all your ways acknowledge Him. you believe in God. will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. and be thankful.” Psalm 37:5 — “Commit your way to the Lord. even to the end of the age.” Colossians 3:15 — “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts. let your requests be made known to God. trust also in Him. and He shall direct your paths. and He shall bring it to pass.” Matthew 28:20 — “…lo.” To Fight Worry John 14:1 — “Let not your heart be troubled. all you who labor and are heavy laden.EMERGENCY HELP FROM THE GREAT PHYSICIAN 61 James 4:8 — “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” . believe also in Me. but in everything by prayer and supplication. and I will give you rest.” To Manage Time Pressures Proverbs 16:3 — “Commit your works to the Lord.” Matthew 11:28 — “Come to Me.” Proverbs 3:5-6 — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. then the Lord will take care of me. I am with you always.” Psalm 27:10 — “When my father and my mother forsake me. and the peace of God. and your thoughts will be established. and lean not on your own understanding. to which also you were called in one body.” Philippians 4:6-7 — “Be anxious for nothing. with thanksgiving. which surpasses all understanding.

” To Grow Stronger Spiritually Psalm 119:28 — “My soul melts from heaviness. they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” Matthew 5:6 — “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. they shall walk and not faint. for in them you think you have eternal life. O Lord God of hosts. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. and I ate them. because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. He who believes in Him is not condemned.” John 3:17-18 — “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world. but he who does not believe is condemned already.” Isaiah 40:31 — “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. for I am called by Your name.” Jeremiah 15:16 — “Your words were found. and these are they which testify of Me. strengthen me according to Your word. for they shall be filled.62 FIRST AID PARENTING Philippians 4:19 — “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. they shall run and not be weary.” .” John 5:39 — “You search the Scriptures.” To Find Forgiveness for Mistakes 1 John 1:9 — “If we confess our sins. but that the world through Him might be saved.

he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life. and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. so far has He removed our transgressions from us. God is greater than our heart. because we have trusted in His holy name.” To Find Joy Psalm 16:11 — “You will show me the path of life.” Psalm 31:24 — “Be of good courage. all you who hope in the Lord. the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you. and He shall strengthen your heart. at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 33:21 — “For our heart shall rejoice in Him. and be led out with peace. I say to you. in Your presence is fullness of joy.” . but has passed from death into life. and shall not come into judgment.” 1 John 3:20 — “For if our heart condemns us.” John 5:24 — “Most assuredly.EMERGENCY HELP FROM THE GREAT PHYSICIAN 63 Psalm 103:12 — “As far as the east is from the west. and knows all things.” Isaiah 55:12 — “For you shall go out with joy.

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