It takes a village. So where's the village?
Twenty years ago Hilary Clinton popularized the proverb, It takes a village to raise a child. If you have ever felt overwhelmed by the tasks in your life or the need for community, then you probably want a village. And if you've ever wanted a village and none have appeared then you are not alone. I have often wished for a village, usually when my plate is too full.
We're not the first people to want a village. Near the turn of the 20th century there was a movement in Israel toward these villages, called kibbutzim--unique rural communities dedicated to mutual aid and social justice, based on the principle of joint ownership of property, equality and cooperation of production, consumption and education--a home for those who have chosen it.
Yet, today we more likely find ourselves raising kids in isolation, cooking meals for one, and thinking it's up to us to meet our own needs. This “every man for himself” movement is the exact opposite of what Luke writes about the early church in Acts 4:32-33.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their
possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the
apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so
powerfully at work in them all.
Sharing with one another was not only a way to love one another or merely a practical solution, but this was the way to make their ministry more effective. They were more effective together than apart. The world was watching. The goal of these Christians was to preach the Gospel. That meant looking like Jesus, loving like Jesus. A community rather than a competition.
While compound-living is not practical for most of us, this is where I want to raise my family. The Village which teaches, nourishes, protects, takes care of one another, is exactly the place I want to be! Don't you?
So what are we doing, Church? Are we being the community home? What can the model of these early Christians teach us? Maybe that we need one another, maybe that we must be willing to share our blessings and our burdens for the sake of the Gospel. Maybe it's worth joining a village.
You may be noticing that your little one is not napping during one of the scheduled naptimes,
or sleeping much shorter than the expected amount of time. These are some indicators that your little one is probably dropping a nap.
This is not always a welcome stage, however it is an eventual and unavoidable one. This will require some adjustments on everyone’s part.
The first nap to drop is the third one, 3:30-5 timing. This should be phased out after about 6 months. That means, keep baby awake after second nap as best as you can: take a walk outside, play, music, eat early dinner, but avoid the car, stroller, carrier or you will have a snoozer. Baby may be fussy, so you will need to move bedtime to earlier in order to account for the lost sleep and to ensure that baby is not overtired by bedtime. So if bedtime with third nap has been 7:30 p.m., move bedtime earlier, try 6:30. Do the same bedtime routine and soothing. You may have to stretch baby to 6:30, by a few minutes each day, so if he or she is tired, tired at 5, don’t let her nap, begin bedtime.
Then the schedule should be napping at 9 and 1. If that is not happening, we’ll get you there.
Dropping the morning nap happens around when baby begins to walk (variable between 9-12/13 months) Most babies are not taking a morning nap at 15 months. The goal is to preserve the afternoon nap the longest. If baby takes the morning one, but not the afternoon one, it’s time to drop the morning one so that she can sleep in the afternoon and be properly rested for bedtime. If baby misses the afternoon one she will be too wound up/crispy/overtired to have a restful bedtime.
When dropping the morning nap you will need to stretch baby from wake-up (6:30/7:00) til as close to noon as possible. That may mean she only makes it to 11. Then keep working on keeping her awake a little longer each day. No car rides, no stroller, keep light, sound activity high. When she’s clearly getting very tired and fussy, begin the naptime routine. This will also then mean that baby naps maybe 11-1p.m. and will need a temporarily early bedtime until the nap truly becomes afternoon. So if baby is up at 1 p.m., bedtime by 5 p.m. for a little while. We don’t want an overtired baby at the end of the day, it will lead to night-waking, poor quality of sleep for all of you.
Children typically take an afternoon nap until around age 4. Some children around age 3 may tell you they don’t need a nap. Don’t listen to them! You may need to change your phrasing of it. “It’s time for rest-time.” Quiet hour in your room, whatever you want to call it. Many children will fall asleep during this time. You can also move to an every-other day nap schedule. Or you can merely solidify the rest-time. If your child is still napping everyday but having trouble going to bed at the regular time, (7:00) then it may be time for you to curb the nap. You can start by waking the child after 1 hour of sleep, or planning an afternoon outing. Children will again need a temporarily early bedtime when they drop this nap. In order to avoid overtired children, it may be necessary to begin bedtime at 5:30. At my house sometimes a meltdown at the dinner table means bedtime instead of dinner. We give the child a beef stick or spoonful of peanut butter and take them up to bed. Children need sleep more than they need food. Remember, healthy sleep is best for everyone.
However, if none of this works---call me!
Five years ago, in the dark night of my soul, I despaired.
I could not see that spring was coming.
That resurrection was coming.
While the calendar turned through the seasons, winter, spring, summer and fall, I remained in the winter of my soul. I laid in bed, in the dark gray light, hidden in the shadows.
And in my winter, there was quiet, resting, waiting.
As I continue to walk this journey of seasons, I inch toward spring, confidently held in His grace. I rest in the truth that despite what I feel, Jesus is coming.
Now facing the rising sun, I know that God has been preparing me through the winter of my soul, to bask in the Sonlight.
In Genesis 1:14 we read that God created the seasons and called them good. They are good for us and for all His creation. In contemplating the seasons, I see in God's grand story perfectly planned growth, harvest, death, and resurrection.
God brings rain in season, fruit, and harvest in His time says Leviticus 26:3-5.
Not when I am ready for it to end.
Not until the work is completed.
When God declared the seasons good, that included days of rest, seasons to leave the fields fallow, winter for all, that they may be renewed.
That we too, would bear much fruit, sharing in His resurrection so that we may make His Goods News of life known to all!
I pray that I never lose the perspective of winter. That though things seem dead, yet, there is hope. Lamentations 3:19-32 reads:
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”
The morning comes.
The church historically holds an Easter vigil. The believers pray all night in confident expectation
that Resurrection is coming.
Real resurrection of the soul.
I, too, pray with confident expectation that, because He lives, my future is more than this! I am not condemned to death. I need not live in winter forever.
Despite how long winter feels, spring is coming. If the winter of your soul seems long, longer than you want, take heart, He is coming.
As I sat in the steamy bathroom with my little one, holding him close to ease his fear while the coughing wracked his little body, I remembered. “Lord, heal this little boy. Give him relief. Calm his body and spirit.” I remembered that each of my children has had a few bouts with croup and always in the middle of the night. I remembered the words of Psalm 63.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me…
My child longed for comfort and rest and relief. I longed to give these to him. He was satisfied to just be held in the shadow of my arms. He clung to me.
Many, many nights I have called to God, through the watches of the night, on my bed. There is something very lonely about the middle of the night. There is silence, stillness, waiting for the morning.
During a dark season of my life I literally clung to this verse on a notecard or clutched my very small bible to my chest turned to this psalm in the middle of a panic attack, in the middle of the night.
I recall this psalm when my thoughts are anxious about things out of my control.
I remember God is powerful and He upholds me when I am with a sick child in the middle of the night. We have a Father who never sleeps nor slumbers when the world does. He works all shifts---all watches of the night.
When I settle in with this psalm, I am stilled and can find rest eventually.
Under the shadow of His wings.
If you find yourself awake during the watches of the night, remember He is there. Remember His power as He worked in the past, remember He is our help. It is His right hand that upholds us.
Lord, thank you for your steadfastness. We praise your power and faithfulness to us and to all generations before. Help us remember to call on you during any watch of the night. In Jesus’ name, Amen.