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Chris Carpenter
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Parenting Pitfalls and the One Who Saves Us

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - Please excuse me for a few moments. I need to catch up on my sleep. I am just going to lay my head down on my keyboard and hope that I don’t hit any unnecessary keys that will type some sort of cryptic message. My fear is that I might awaken Star Wars Nation and turn them against me.

There, this is quite comfortable. Just going to lay my head on the old keyboard, my nose resting on the asterisk and … Ahtoautohej ajdohtaotljadopug 1wornalsdeweyu=-462395(^(*%^*%*%.

I’m awake! It appears from a quick translation of the Naboo language that I have just announced to the world that I am Luke’s father. Not exactly, but I am Taylor’s dad.

For you see, the reason for my weariness is that I became a first time father a little more than a month ago. Like most new parents will tell you, there is nothing, I repeat, absolutely nothing that can adequately prepare you for such a wonderful yet frightening phase of life.

I discovered very quickly that my days are not my own anymore. The era of sleeping until 10am on a Saturday morning is long gone (unless of course I want to prop the baby up on my chest and allow him to rip my chest hairs out strand by strand). Impulse shopping sprees are a remnant of the past as the budget is much tighter than it used to be. A romantic dinner and a movie has been replaced by a bath, a bottle, and an early bedtime.

But you know what? It is all worth it.

My boss told me shortly before Taylor’s arrival that I had nothing to worry about. My sleeping patterns would be virtually unchanged because all newborn babies do is eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. What he forgot to tell me is that they also cry very loudly, especially in the middle of the night.

I will never forget the first day we brought him home. As our car pulled around the corner and onto our street, we couldn’t help but notice two helium filled "Baby Boy" balloons tied to our mailbox announcing our subdivision’s newest citizen.

“How thoughtful,” remarked my wife, as she removed Taylor from his car seat for the first time.

I must admit, I too, thought it was an incredibly nice gesture on the part of our Sunday School class. I would think otherwise by the end of the day.

Not 10 minutes after we arrived, the door bell rang. Fifteen minutes later it rang again. Five minutes after that? You got it, someone else was at the door. Our doorbell did not stop ringing for the next five hours. I counted 17 people either sitting in our living room, gathered around the kitchen table, or in one case, someone sleeping under our baby grand piano.

At one point, I remarked to a woman who was sacked out in a recliner flicking channels on my television set, “Hi, I’m the new father. I don’t think we have met. And you are?”

“Oh, how silly of me,” she replied, extending her hand to shake mine. “I live on the next street over. I was on my way home from work and I saw the balloons. I just love new babies so I had to stop and see him.”

All I could say was, “Well, thanks for coming. We appreciate it.”

Needless to say, by the time the last well wisher departed shortly after 10 pm, my wife, my infant son, and myself were dazed, confused, and wondering what might come next.

It was now time to put the baby to bed. However, there was but one slight problem. Young Taylor was too large for his bassinet. His flailing arms draped over the side like willow branches hanging over the edge of a river. These sleeping arrangements were not going to work. So, our precious son’s first night in his new home was spent in the crying arms of his mother while his befuddled father spent one of the longest nights of his life trying to figure out a way to “widen” the bassinet without breaking it. Fellow dads, heating the wood up with a blow torch only scorches the wood, it will not bend it. Trust me.

Early the next morning, I ventured to a local store specializing in babies and purchased a crib. The sales associate had never had an easier sale.

Something else I have discovered in my four weeks of parenthood is that mothers possess some sort of magical, comforting touch that father’s certainly do not, or at least I don’t. I can be rocking our squirmy, fidgety bundle of joy and no trick in my arsenal will calm him down. Of course my arsenal consists of reciting the starting lineup from the 1975 Boston Red Sox to him, singing bad disco songs by the Bee Gees, or thrusting a stuffed turtle named “Turtle Turtle” within millimeters of his face. Nothing seems to work. I often feel as if I am being mauled by a small, persnickety bear cub. Then as if she is some sort of svengali, my wife will casually stroll into the room, scoop him up from my arms, and within two minutes he is sleeping like a hibernating bear in February.

The last four weeks, while challenging, have been some of the most rewarding days of my life. Changing Taylor’s diaper for the first time is a moment I will never forget. Let’s just say he “showered me with his affection.” I will also never forget the second time I changed his diaper. Collecting smelly substances in my bare hands like soft serve ice cream to save the bedspread was certainly a first for me. Just this morning, my glorious young son put on a formula spewing exhibition for the ages. When he had completed his great feat, he looked longingly up at me with his big blue eyes and … laughed. The boy laughed at me!

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Adding this gift from God to our family has created an entirely new dimension to who I am, who my wife is, and who we are as a couple. Gone are the days of living our lives on impulse but in its place is a divine responsibility to raise this child to love and serve the Lord. This responsibility is sacred.

In his sermon at Taylor's baby dedication, our pastor said, "Parents, your children are a gift from God and you are to give thanks to Him for bringing them into our lives. You must promise to train them in the things of God, always looking to Him for divine, wisdom, guidance, and strength.

How true.

In Psalm 78:5-7, it says, “For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they might arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”

As parents, we have much to teach our children about the ways of God. We have life lessons to share if we are only willing. We must make our children realize that we love and respect them. We must help them with their mental, spiritual, and emotional needs as well. It is God’s plan for parents to teach and to have our children learn from us so that they might share these same principles with the next generation.

While the aforementioned paragraph may seem like a daunting, even an impossible task, we should not shy away from the principles set forth but embrace them. As parents we will fail at times. That is inevitable. But if we derive our parenting skills from the fundamental laws set forth in the Bible, we cannot fail. We will be challenged mightily, but He will not let us stumble.

In Jude 24,25, the author writes, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”

As parents, we must realize there is another presence with us, closer than we even know. He will keep us from stumbling and return us to safety. He goes before us, walks beside us, and follows behind. He is our refuge and safeguard from all of the parental pitfalls that face us. In Him, we are secure as parents.

The next time you have a 3am feeding and your precious son or daughter will not go back to sleep no matter how hard you try, remember that our mighty God is there with you each and every ounce of the way.

Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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