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

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

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


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

and they are also helping out around the house more than ever.IN AN EMERGENCY 11 in the business world. We read about it in Deuteronomy 6:6. This is the mother’s role also.” This is a high calling. Dads are still carrying the bulk of the financial burden in most families. a father’s role is to lead his children to God. with little recognition or thanks. is like. These changes are wonderful. A father’s most lasting role is to show his children a picture of what God. 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. I am always saddened when I see fathers ridiculed and disparaged on television and in books. Impress them on your children. 7 (NIV): “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. when you lie down and when you get up. The modern father carries a lot of responsibility. but I find it disappointing that the role of the father in the family has lost the respect that it once garnered. and that is a wonderful thing. The father’s role has become rather uncertain in our modern world. and this is a tremendous shame. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road. Today’s dads are far different from their grandfathers. A father shows his children that he is dependable and willing to sacrifice of himself for his family. It is a calling that keeps Shawn and me humble every day. Dads nowadays are increasingly involved in their children’s lives. but on the home front as well. 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. their Heavenly Father. Ultimately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel truly blessed. This is a constant struggle. Life.1 FIRST AID PARENTING is away from home. If you have a deadline looming at work. though. letting go of the goal of perfect balance every day has helped me a lot. Most of us cannot cook a gourmet meal. If your life is always unbalanced. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve sat down at my desk “just to check my e-mail. and life does go much more smoothly when we sleep for eight of those 24 hours. our homes. It will take a lot of the heat off! One of the best things that I have . but I have worked diligently in recent years to bring my temperature down. then it is time to reassess your priorities. exercise for 60 minutes. Thinking that you can live every day in perfect balance is unrealistic. work and family duties all fall into place beautifully and peacefully. On the rare day that my home. or your taxes are still undone and it is April 14. is often temporarily unbalanced.” and before I know it an hour has vanished! Each day is only 24 hours long. First. Technology can also be a time robber. 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. and it is also wrought with somewhat unrealistic expectations from ourselves. 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. However. by nature. 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. then your life will be unbalanced. 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. it helps to realize that balancing the demands on my time is not always going to work.

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

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

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

I don’t recall the details of the incident. 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. my Redeemer. or a lack thereof! Often. I could fill volumes with a retelling of all of the mistakes that I have made as a parent. Unlike a fractured collarbone or sprained ankle. no matter how grievous. I have learned a lot about God. My children are amazingly quick to forgive. or just interacting with them. This past summer. through my relationship with my children. I was reminded afresh about just how impatient I can sometimes be. while on vacation. and His love is undying for His children. We had spent a long. we have acted too hastily with the girls when resolving disputes. Our Heavenly Father is the same. but I do remember hastily coming to the conclusion that Naomi 22 . hot day in the car and we were all tired by the time we got into our hotel room. I have made so many mistakes as a mom that I am humbled daily.❦ 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. and their love for their parents never falters in spite of our imperfections. He is always ready to forgive us for our mistakes. Shawn and I both seem to struggle with the same thing with our children—and that is patience. no parent is perfect.

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

In other areas of our lives we freely accept that we are not perfect. Hopefully we learn from the mistakes and. with God’s help. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Just as our precious little ones are so willing to forgive. but the Bible is clear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. the fractures happen less often and heal quickly. as a parent. we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. so is God.” As parents. He tells us to be the teacher. what can we expect from God when we make mistakes? I think it is important to realize that when you are a parent you are “job-sharing” with God. Our children are on loan from Him. The reality is that those fractures and sprains are going to keep happening.24 FIRST AID PARENTING So. He’ll be the coach and He will be tech support. In 1 John 1:9 it says: “If we confess our sins.” This is the best kind of healing. but yet somehow we feel that we should be perfect parents. and it doesn’t require so much as a bandage! . 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 the subzero weather for a little while. alone. 25 . Single parent families are much more common than they were even a generation ago. How soon would someone be by to ask for help? There was no way of knowing. He waited. We are fragile creatures when we are alone. we met a man who had lost one of his legs. he had to assess his situation. The cold had damaged it beyond saving.❦ Isolation In our early years of ministry. but eventually it had to be amputated. and especially when we are at the mercy of the elements. Parents today. The Northern Lights were magnificent and our quiet drives to and from our three little churches were special times. He had been snowmobiling in the bush one winter when his snowmobile broke down. Shawn and I lived and worked in Northern British Columbia. but quickly realized that if he didn’t start walking to the nearest town. Alone. I admire the courage it took for him to walk to safety. They tried to save his leg. he would die from the extreme cold. more than ever. While we were working there. at mile zero of the Alaska Highway. isolated. He was unable to fix the machine and the temperature was at least 45 degrees below zero Celsius. That story has stuck with me over the years. are taking care of their children alone. Far away from any town. exhausted and frostbitten. he began walking and after several hours arrived at the town. and extended family support systems are less common. He shared his story with us.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

drink bubbly grape juice and. It is a short time. and so we alternate. inspired by the Jewish tradition. and look forward to each week. to ask questions and to talk about whatever is important to them that day. but we’ll continue to come to Him morning and night. Natalie has her own devotional reading time. eat Challah bread.4 FIRST AID PARENTING finishing up our toast and juice. and uplift one another before we head out the door into the big bad world. She is eight now. This is an important part of her building a relationship with God for herself. We are drawn closer to God. It is one that our girls love. We read more books aimed at Natalie’s level. . and when they stop working we’ll change it up. I’ll be sad when this phase passes and she is independent. light the fire (if it is winter) and play soft music. Naomi is still pretty little and she still likes one of us to read to her and pray with her. We have given her the freedom to dictate her personal devotional time. We then close in prayer. candles and our good stemware. At bedtime. We have the chance to pray for each other. too. We take turns reading out of a devotional book and then another person prays. which I think is good for Naomi. but we do read books that are for Naomi’s age level. or in the family room if we have been lucky enough to eat out that night! We read a Bible storybook together. but it is very special. We have our evening worship around the dinner table. and so she enjoys reading at bedtime and being in control of this time. we have a special meal and eat it in the family room around the coffee table. The girls and I set the table with a tablecloth. A few years ago we started a fun tradition in our house. We enjoy finger foods. We dim the lights. too! Our patterns of worship work for us right now. and we are inoculated with His love. 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 a time for the girls to practice their reading skills.

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

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. and to learn from their experiences. . No church is perfect.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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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