Jean & Shawn Boonstra

and Pacific Press Publishing Association

Design & Layout by Fred Knopper Cover Photo by Photos.com 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

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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 www.pacificpress.com ISBN 10: 0-8163-2169-8 ISBN 13: 978-0-8163-2169-8


Contents
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

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

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

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



FIRST AID PARENTING

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.

IN AN EMERGENCY 

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

10

FIRST AID PARENTING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

also a pastor’s wife.” she reassured me. whose children were now grown. and then bring them to God in prayer. but I knew that I needed my quiet time with God. “It’s okay. alone. 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. Bible in hand. That worked fairly well for a while until our youngest learned that if she got up early. shared with me that she too had struggled when her children were young. It has always been a very special family time.20 FIRST AID PARENTING fears. 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. The biggest time-related frustration I’ve faced is to find time for my spiritual life. I tried getting up early and reading in the morning. I always carried a great load of guilt over this until one day a friend. 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. invariably. too. and to see how God has been working in my life by answering my requests and helping me solve my problems. she could snuggle with mommy on the couch and ask her lots of questions. I would fall asleep. to read the Bible and pray. 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 . hopes and thanksgivings freely. I tried many different things in those early years of parenting. “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. but there never seemed to be time for me. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to flip back through the pages and enjoy again the blessings that I recorded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

never will I forsake you.ISOLATION 2 “…never will I leave you.” God is the cure for isolation! He is the source of strength and power for the parent who is parenting alone. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

it is made up of errant humans after all. . 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. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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