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

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


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

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

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


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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

then it is time to reassess your priorities.” and before I know it an hour has vanished! Each day is only 24 hours long. Life. letting go of the goal of perfect balance every day has helped me a lot. or our appearance at the expense of our children. exercise for 60 minutes. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve sat down at my desk “just to check my e-mail. If you have a deadline looming at work. This is a constant struggle.1 FIRST AID PARENTING is away from home. On the rare day that my home. and life does go much more smoothly when we sleep for eight of those 24 hours. by nature. If your life is always unbalanced. is often temporarily unbalanced. though. work and family duties all fall into place beautifully and peacefully. It will take a lot of the heat off! One of the best things that I have . and here are a few of the things that have worked for me. It seems like everyone is talking about time management and finding the balance in life. However. but I have worked diligently in recent years to bring my temperature down. Balance is a fantastic goal because God certainly did not design us to be completely focused on our work. I feel truly blessed. or your taxes are still undone and it is April 14. and it is also wrought with somewhat unrealistic expectations from ourselves. 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. First. our homes. Technology can also be a time robber. What can we do to keep our temperature down during the remaining busy 16 hours? I am definitely not an expert in this area. then your life will be unbalanced. Thinking that you can live every day in perfect balance is unrealistic. Most of us cannot cook a gourmet meal. spring clean the house and meet a pressing deadline all on the same day. it helps to realize that balancing the demands on my time is not always going to work.

my journaling became very sporadic. A few years ago. but after Naomi was born. but my journal is a place where I can express my thoughts. I also kept a pregnancy journal through my first pregnancy and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was truly a life-changing experience. I know that. 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. like me. Often I have fallen short. music lessons and church activities are more than enough for their young lives. and people will be unhappy when we say no. It has been a welcome time of peace and serenity in my feverish schedule. . I managed to keep a journal through my second pregnancy. but after Natalie was born. and our children’s lives are. While there.FEVER 1 done recently is to start saying “no” to others and to take better charge of my schedule. Saying no is extremely difficult for me. you’ve probably heard it a hundred times before. but all the while they are smiling and content. but saying no is just what might be best for our children. I convinced myself that journaling was a luxury that I did not have the time for anymore. 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. but I try to get back on track and stay focused. Shawn and I have also made a concerted effort to not let our children take on too many activities. I could not help but think of how “cluttered” my own life. but it really does bring the temperature down a lot. and while there we were struck by how happy the children were! They live in shacks and run around in bare feet. I am not as thorough as I once was. School. I made a conscious decision to simplify our lives.

“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. The biggest time-related frustration I’ve faced is to find time for my spiritual life. 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. We began reading Bible stories to our girls and having morning and evening worship with them since before they could walk. but there never seemed to be time for me. 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. shared with me that she too had struggled when her children were young. and then bring them to God in prayer. I tried getting up early and reading in the morning.” she reassured me. alone. and to see how God has been working in my life by answering my requests and helping me solve my problems. Bible in hand. also a pastor’s wife. I would fall asleep. too. hopes and thanksgivings freely. she could snuggle with mommy on the couch and ask her lots of questions.20 FIRST AID PARENTING fears. I tried reading in the evening but. I tried many different things in those early years of parenting. whose children were now grown. but I knew that I needed my quiet time with God. to read the Bible and pray. 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. and began to think of it as my time of renewal. It has always been a very special family time. invariably. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to flip back through the pages and enjoy again the blessings that I recorded. 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 .

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

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

is always on the side of truth. The walls then come down and we can talk about whatever is behind the incident that caused the problem in the first place. but it does mean that our heart has turned away from the sin. 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. She pled to her daddy for justice and. but I am finding that it gets easier when I realize just how much my daughters love me and are willing to forgive. too. Repentance is a genuine remorse for wrongdoing and is accompanied by a strong desire to not make the same mistake again. she was right and I was wrong. This does not mean that we will never make the same mistake again. for He is willing and able to grant it.FRACTURES AND SPRAINS 23 must be the offender. I have learned so much about God and His character. Naomi wailed and mournfully declared her innocence. This repentance comes directly from God Himself. and her daddy showed her a picture of what God is like because He. It is never an easy thing to say you are sorry. Some of our best talks come after an open and willing apology from each of us. though. He wants us to turn our back on sin. but the fracture wasn’t permanent. I have learned that it is okay to apologize and say you are sorry. sure enough. Our girls are so incredibly willing and able to forgive our transgressions that it humbles and amazes me. . just as Shawn walked in the room. By no means was this my finest hour as a parent. and He is longing for us to come to Him and ask for His forgiveness. Most importantly. and swiftly applying retribution for the crime. God calls this willingness to apologize and forgive repentance. 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. My daughter forgave me. In the Bible. I felt terrible! A few sniffles later.

but yet somehow we feel that we should be perfect parents. Hopefully we learn from the mistakes and. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. and it doesn’t require so much as a bandage! .” As parents. with God’s help. the fractures happen less often and heal quickly. He tells us to be the teacher. 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. The reality is that those fractures and sprains are going to keep happening.” This is the best kind of healing. 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. but the Bible is clear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Just as our precious little ones are so willing to forgive. so is God. In other areas of our lives we freely accept that we are not perfect. In 1 John 1:9 it says: “If we confess our sins. Our children are on loan from Him. we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves.24 FIRST AID PARENTING So. He’ll be the coach and He will be tech support.

He shared his story with us. I admire the courage it took for him to walk to safety. Alone. He was unable to fix the machine and the temperature was at least 45 degrees below zero Celsius. He had been snowmobiling in the bush one winter when his snowmobile broke down. Shawn and I lived and worked in Northern British Columbia. He waited. How soon would someone be by to ask for help? There was no way of knowing. While we were working there. isolated.❦ Isolation In our early years of ministry. We are fragile creatures when we are alone. alone. Single parent families are much more common than they were even a generation ago. he would die from the extreme cold. The Northern Lights were magnificent and our quiet drives to and from our three little churches were special times. Parents today. 25 . That story has stuck with me over the years. They tried to save his leg. and extended family support systems are less common. in the subzero weather for a little while. and especially when we are at the mercy of the elements. exhausted and frostbitten. but quickly realized that if he didn’t start walking to the nearest town. he began walking and after several hours arrived at the town. are taking care of their children alone. more than ever. at mile zero of the Alaska Highway. Far away from any town. he had to assess his situation. The cold had damaged it beyond saving. but eventually it had to be amputated. we met a man who had lost one of his legs.

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

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

I do save certain things for when he is gone. but generally. keeping to the same routine gives a sense of comfort and regularity for the children. Shawn’s absences remind us of Jesus and His work. For some reason. Every obstacle in our lives. My strength and hope while parenting in isolation has always been that I’m never actually parenting in isolation. and even now I still buy them chocolate pudding when Shawn is gone. Jesus is working with us and for us in heaven. One of my favorite verses is Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV): “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you. such as sleepovers with friends and certain outings. And so. never a factor! I love the verse in Hebrews 13:5 (NIV). He is preparing a future for us. isolation is. do not be discouraged. that he is away often enough that it works best if we stick to our usual household routine. but He still provides. He is always available to listen. Do not be afraid. teaches us about God. through trial and error. even when alone. too: . no matter how alone I perceive myself to be. and especially in our parenting experience. just as the absent parent is doing for the family.2 FIRST AID PARENTING I’ve also learned. 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. this has stuck over the years. Right now we have to be away from Him. he will never leave you nor forsake you. Just as the parent who is away is still caring for and providing for the family. He uses these challenges to draw us closer to Him. I am never alone. to share my frustrations with and to encourage me. It is a beautiful picture.” God Himself is always with me. in the end.

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 2 “…never will I leave you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and then he comes home and gets to be the fun parent! My feelings aside. The mother’s role in teaching and correcting the children is equally important. From my point of view. but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We work together to provide a consistent and united front. he means it. Also. The girls know that when daddy asks something of them. but he is also the final court of appeal when it comes to discipline. Preventive medicine is ineffective when children receive inconsistent. the bulk of the correction and teaching of the girls becomes my responsibility. the children know that daddy stands behind my decision.3 FIRST AID PARENTING voice of authority.” God desires that fathers raise their children. It is better that they learn to respect their parents now. and that disrespecting him is not an option. In our family. even if he is not home. I know that it is important that our family expectations and rules are consistent. Shawn is Mr. than to learn the lesson later when disrespecting a police officer or a judge. With Shawn gone so often. or contradictory doses! I have seen the pain and confusion that it causes. but the principles that I follow are the same. even when daddy isn’t home. Fun! He loves to play and goof around. caregiving parent. it is unhealthy for one parent to undermine the wishes of the other. and also to learn of God and His love. because by my nature I am the nurturing. Sometimes I feel like I have to be the big meanie. Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) says: “Fathers. My approach to specific situations might be different from his. . teaching them in love how to be responsible adults. do not provoke your children to anger. The Bible has some very clear instruction for fathers.

Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go. . but the results last a lifetime.PREVENTIVE MEDICINE 3 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. It sets the child up for an unhappy home life in the future. Consistent preventive medicine lovingly. It isn’t always easy to administer. and it is a terrible inheritance. kindly and firmly given by both parents gives the child an inoculation against future heartache. and when he is old he will not turn from it.” This is a promise that we can claim and then cling to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and the children gathered round. The day would end with a story. 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. It was our bedtime routine and it worked. When the girls were toddlers. Every day. and so we’ve changed things. and whatever is comfortable for your family is good. because of Shawn’s work schedule.INOCULATIONS 47 loves to teach us what she has learned from the Bible at school. and most days it is just the girls and me. We were at home all day and it worked for us. I lead out in family worship most days. then another Bible story and prayer at their bedside. and it should focus on the Bible and on a time of prayer. and both reading. Over the years we’ve changed how we have worship from time to time. but it is the reality! I challenge you to embrace your family’s plan for worship and. I spent a little extra time with them at morning worship time. we would read a story. It isn’t ideal. We’ve always had worship in the morning and the evening. It probably shouldn’t be long. if you haven’t already. make it a part of your life. and children are not always sparkling clean or smiling! In our family. The girls are older now. or a source of frustration or boredom for the children or the parents. Parents work shifts and travel. It is not meant to be a burden. mother by his side. Modern families don’t usually fit into that picture perfect stereotype. sparkling clean and smiling. and so we have our morning worship at the breakfast table as we’re . Mornings are now crazy busy. 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. but it has had a few different forms. After breakfast. and often bring out props or do a craft to go with it. Family worship can take many different forms.

and we are inoculated with His love. At bedtime. We read more books aimed at Natalie’s level. It is a short time. We have given her the freedom to dictate her personal devotional time. inspired by the Jewish tradition. She is eight now. to ask questions and to talk about whatever is important to them that day. It isn’t always easy to find books that are at both Natalie and Naomi’s interest or reading level. 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. It is a time for the girls to practice their reading skills. The girls and I set the table with a tablecloth. We enjoy finger foods. candles and our good stemware. and uplift one another before we head out the door into the big bad world. We take turns reading out of a devotional book and then another person prays. and look forward to each week. and so we alternate. Every Friday night. Naomi is still pretty little and she still likes one of us to read to her and pray with her.4 FIRST AID PARENTING finishing up our toast and juice. We have the chance to pray for each other. and when they stop working we’ll change it up. A few years ago we started a fun tradition in our house. or in the family room if we have been lucky enough to eat out that night! We read a Bible storybook together. too. Natalie has her own devotional reading time. but we do read books that are for Naomi’s age level. drink bubbly grape juice and. too! Our patterns of worship work for us right now. We dim the lights. I’ll be sad when this phase passes and she is independent. We have our evening worship around the dinner table. we have a special meal and eat it in the family room around the coffee table. but we’ll continue to come to Him morning and night. We then close in prayer. . It is one that our girls love. light the fire (if it is winter) and play soft music. but it is very special. which I think is good for Naomi. eat Challah bread.

is also important to our family. be encouraged and be uplifted through fellowship with likeminded believers. and it is a special time. His children. A church family is an extension of the home. We can learn. and offers a lot of antigens against the bad in the world. and to offer Him adoration and praise. 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. It is a time to draw closer to God. Corporate worship. and so we tried it again the next week. though. We linger around the table for quite some time after we’ve finished eating. The modern world does have its wonderful technological advantages. He created all of us. and I love to find things in the world to praise and thank God for. It is a part of all that we do. day in and day out. We worship God in the small things in life. are reminders of God’s love and creativity. This particular family worship routine is special to us because it works for our family. We tried it once and we liked it. and He also made us social creatures. Shawn leads out in family worship. and then has a special prayer for our girls. by talking to the girls about them. When Shawn is away. Personally. Beautiful flowers. I have found that the friends I have made through my church family have helped me tremendously in my parenting experience. he joins us for Friday night worship by Web camera. or a funny looking bird. I don’t believe that God intended for us to worship Him in a vacuum.INOCULATIONS 4 Before we eat. It has been very encouraging to have friends—who are going through the same things— . in church. and they even talk to each other in terms of one “Challah” to the next—meaning a week’s time. We didn’t plan for this to become a tradition in our family. and sharing how God created them all for us. When we are away from home the girls miss it.

and to learn from their experiences. .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. but a Bible believing church is a wonderful place to let your children get another inoculation against the big bad world. it is made up of errant humans after all. No church is perfect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Naomi.” I whispered. It is full of joy and love. 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. “Well.” Shawn insisted. and to teach us about Him. “I did not. and consoling a crying infant on long overseas flights. how God must joy over our accomplishments. We cheered and cried when she was finished.5 FIRST AID PARENTING off and he and the girls had been goofing off upstairs for a while. “she’s learning to read. It was another time of incredible joy! Oh.m.” Shawn furrowed his eyebrows at me and motioned for me to sit down. I listened as she flawlessly read the first two pages.. eventually. It includes packing lunches that are guaranteed to come home only half-eaten and.” Sparkling with pride. We have been blessed by this privilege. It is often a chore. “Did you know that Naomi can read?” he asked me. Parenting is part of God’s plan to draw us closer to Him. Quietly. “You helped her. and was met by Shawn’s delighted face.” he said. absolutely glowing with joy. Parenting is a challenge. “read Mommy the book you just read me. Shocked. Naomi opened up an old book we picked up somewhere over the years. Parenting has a lengthy job description that includes changing wet sheets at 2 a. It was a first grade reader. we listened to our baby read us the entire book. I went upstairs. .” I corrected. I mean she’s got a lot of words down. it includes letting our children go.

close your eyes and listen to a favorite inspirational song.” even when the request might be inconvenient. Repeat! Isolation: Put on headphones. even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to be uninterrupted. or longer if you dare. say “no. try the suggestions below: Fever: The very next request that someone makes of your time. interesting and something that cannot go on without you. 5 . You’re never far away from God. Underdosing on Joy: Find a kindergartener and ask him or her to tell you a joke. say “no” when you know that it is the right answer. whether the weather is warm or freezing.” Be careful—the request will likely be for something important. and say “yes. Poison: Unplug the TV and declare it “broken” for a whole week. and then try the joke on your spouse later! Preventive Medicine: For a whole day. say “no.❦ Emergency Quick Reference Guide In case of the following emergencies. Still.” Fractures and Sprains: Swallow your pride and say sorry. and find something new to be in awe of God for. Hypothermia: Give yourself the gift of an hour alone with your Bible. Laugh. Hug. Inoculations: Take family worship outside.

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

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

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

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

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