Archive | January 2011

The #1 Choking Hazard

Do you know what the #1 choking hazard is?Do you know what the #1 choking hazard for children is?

I thought I knew. After all, that has been my husband’s catchphrase for more than two decades now.

“Don’t let the baby get hold of that,” he warns with predictable frequency, “it’s the number one choking hazard.”

I’ve always accepted this statement without question, assuming Doug was citing some statistic he’d learned back in medical school.

However, one of my children recently brought to my attention the fact that their father has conferred this top honor upon a wide and varied array of household items over the years: hot dogs, marbles, grapes, gum, balloons, buttons, quarters, peanuts, and anything made out of Play-doh or Crayola Magic modeling compound.

Essentially, the #1 choking hazard  at our house is whatever small, forgotten trinket or crusty crumb the baby is currently intent on dragging out from under the sofa cushion or scavenging off the kitchen floor.

Just yesterday, I had to pry from her grubby fingers a stale goldfish cracker, a shard of plastic from a broken CD case, the head of a lego mini-figure, and a square-inch scrap of cellophane wrap — all in a span of about three minutes.

So, what is the most common choking culprit? The question begs an answer, so I Googled “#1 choking hazard” to satisfy my curiosity. The answer? “FOOD!” Can you imagine that?

A 2008 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics was a little more helpful. It listed the top-ten offenders:

  1. Hot dogs
  2. Peanuts
  3. Carrots
  4. Boned chicken
  5. Candy
  6. Meat
  7. Popcorn
  8. Fish with bones
  9. Sunflower seeds
  10. Apples

Sunflower seeds? Really?

Conspicuously absent from this list are any of the items our own children actually have choked on during their short lives, and I mean fully-obstructed, turning-blue, Heimlich-remediated choking. Had anyone warned us of the dangerous potential of these items , we’d have been much more careful.

So as a public service announcement, I want to advise my readers to exercise extreme caution when offering their children donut holes. Or fried mozzarella. Or tiny toy helicopters with detachable propellers. After all, that’s the #1 choking hazard. At our house. For now.

Bigger They Are, Harder They Fall

My son David broke his leg this week. Dashing across campus between classes, he hurdled over a retaining wall and heard the bone crack as he landed. He snapped it in two places and ended up having a rod surgically inserted to stabilize things just a few hours after the accident.

The surgeon told us it was a good thing we brought him in right away. At 6’7″, David is strong and muscular and his bones are extremely dense. The doctor had a hard time getting the rod in as it was — had the muscles been given time to swell, it would have made the job much more difficult, if not impossible.

As usual, David didn’t complain. I never heard so much as a low groan escape his lips, although when questioned, he admitted it did hurt quite a bit. I knew it must by the way the blood drained from his face every time he was jostled. Broken bones can be excruciatingly painful.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Somehow, the idea of joints and marrow being split apart took on fresh meaning when I saw the X-ray of my son’s splintered leg. The word of God brings conviction — how could I expect the process to be anything but painful? Whether we experience conviction of sin as as a sharp, shooting pang or a dull, aching throb, it won’t go away until we climb onto the surgical table and let the Great Physician set things right.

David’s break was not an open fracture, so the only external evidence was a slight bulge on the side of his leg. The true extent of his injury could only be appreciated by taking an X-ray to examine the bone inside. Likewise, God is far more concerned about our inner failings than our outward appearance. He searches our heart. That’s why scriptures that speak to heart issues are always so piercing.  The more I read, the more aware I become of how badly broken I am, and of how far I fall short of the goal, which is total conformity to Christ.

The Flowering Grass

The Flowering GrassOne of my children discovered an old video of home movies in our media cabinet last night, and soon the entire family had gathered around to laugh at the grainy footage of Mom and Dad back when we had fitter bodies and fewer kids — and that same great sense of style our offspring have long found so amusing. Big hair and short shorts, anyone?

Midway through the movie, I turned to my husband and said, “That really doesn’t seem so long ago, does it?”

“It was only yesterday,” he agreed.

It brought to mind the Bible verses (1 Peter 1:23-25, James 1:10-11) that compare man to grass. God took care to make the flowers of the field. He clothes them in beauty, sends sunshine and rain as needed (Luke 12:27). He must have a purpose for doing so.

Yes, tomorrow the grass will wither and the flower fade, but for today, its roots protect the soil from erosion, its green shoots provide food for itself as well as nourishment to others, its blossoms beautify the landscape, and its seeds allow for reproduction, so the cycle can continue.

Life is short, so perhaps we should take a lesson from the withering grass and use our days on earth to protect and preserve the communities in which we live, to nourish those with whom we come in contact, to beautify our little corner of the world, to rely on God to supply our needs, and to reproduce so that this mandate can be passed on to the next generation.

No Dirty Dishes in the Sink

Arguments in marriage are like dirty dishes in the sink—they’re best dealt with immediately. At least, that’s how my husband and I have come to see it.

We learned early that putting off washing dishes does not make the chore any easier. On the contrary, if you let them sit long enough (which I’m ashamed to admit we did during those honeymoon weeks), milk will sour, mold will grow, and a cloud of midges will hover menacingly above your sink. It’s truly disgusting. Even if you put dishes to soak in hot water to loosen the baked-on grime, you had better return before the water becomes tepid and the suds disappear, or you’ll be back to dealing with a cold, slimy mess.

Having learned this lesson the hard way, I now try to tend to my dirty dishes in a more timely fashion. I take care not to make a bigger mess than is necessary. As much as is possible, I wash up as I go when preparing meals, so that it’s a simple matter of loading cups and plates into the dishwasher after we eat. And I also make a point to never leave dishes in the sink overnight.

I have found that abiding by these simple rules—don’t make unnecessary messes, wash up as you go, empty the sink before bedtime—makes the kitchen a vastly more pleasant place to work. But these same principles adapt readily to marriage in general and to conflict resolution in particular: Avoid unnecessary arguments. Address areas of conflict as they arise. And don’t go to bed angry. The rules are simple. They’re Biblical. And abiding by them makes our home an exceedingly more peaceful place to live.

Avoid Unnecessary Arguments

The Bible makes it clear that the best kind of argument is one that’s avoided. Read for yourself:
• “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon a quarrel before it breaks out.” (Prov. 17:4)
• “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.”
(Prov. 20:3)
• “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
(James 1:19)

Rather than wearing our feelings on our sleeves and taking offense at every little thing our husband does, we should cultivate an attitude of grace and forgiveness. But what if we find ourselves in the midst of conflict, despite our best efforts to avoid it. What then?

Address Areas of Conflict as They Arise

It is imperative that couples deal with disputes in a timely fashion, preferably as soon as they come up. Even if you decide in the heat of an argument that you need to cool off before continuing a discussion, do not put it off too long, lest you give wounds an opportunity to fester and find yourself in a bigger mess than you started with. Pray rather that God will give you the wisdom and love and patience you need to resolve the problem now.

Don’t Go to Bed Angry

The Bible states in no uncertain terms that we must “not let the sun go down on [our] anger” (Eph. 4:26). Solomon recommends that if we have a dispute with a neighbor, we “give no sleep to [our] eyes, nor slumber to [our] eyelids” until we’ve humbled ourselves and seen the matter resolved.

When a husband and wife make it their habit to resolve differences before turning in for the night, they are able to extend and experience forgiveness. After truly letting go of offenses, they rest with a clear conscience, unbothered by the day’s affairs, at peace with God and man. The alternative is tossing and turning night after night, never free of stress, guilt, resentment, anger, and bitterness that swarm through your thoughts like a cloud of midges? Given the choice, wouldn’t you rather just deal with the mess now?

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The above article was adapted from my book, LOVE YOUR HUSBAND/LOVE YOURSELF: EMBRACING GOD’S PURPOSE FOR PASSION IN MARRIAGE, p. 253-258.

Breathe Some LIFE Back into Your Marriage

How to Breathe LIFE Back into Your Marriage | http://lovinglifeathome.comDoes your marriage feel like it needs resuscitating? Maybe it’s time to breathe some LIFE back into your relationship:

L = Laugh. Your husband still wants to have fun with you. Take time to do things together. Enjoy one another. Smile. Laugh.
I = Intercede. Couples who pray together stay together. The rate of divorce drops to less than 1% among husbands and wives who make joint prayer a routine part of their lives.
F = Forgive. Let go of any bitterness and resentment for past offenses and start afresh with a clean slate. Focus on your spouse’s good qualities and express gratitude for them.
E = Embrace. Don’t underestimate the importance of physical affection. “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.” Show by your actions that you love your spouse and still find him attractive.

Simple, isn’t it? Give your spouse a heaping helping of these four elements, and start enjoying a healthier, more robust relationship today!

Don’t Bite the Breast that Feeds You

My baby is cutting teeth right now. Literally. She’s lying on a pillow in my lap, nursing even as I type. About the time I think she has fallen asleep and can be transferred back to her crib, she makes another last-ditch effort to help those central incisors break the surface. It’s a painful experience for both of us. I’ve given her numbing gel and teething rings, yet she remains determined to cut her teeth on me.

That this is for her own good, that she’ll need those teeth later on, that once she has them, she’ll forget the pain she endured to get them—these concepts elude her understanding at the moment. She only knows that she’s hurting and that she longs for comfort and relief. Which explains why—ouch!—she is currently resting in my arms and not in her bed.

Are there things in your life that bring pain or distress? Things that seem hard to bear? Things that hurt? It is easy to lose sight of the fact that such trials are a necessary part of growing up. They are for our own good. They stretch us, equip us, mold us, mature us. Which is why we are told to rejoice when we find ourselves in the midst of difficulty (James 1:2-3).

Yet God does not leave us without comfort. He has promised to carry us through (Matt. 11:28-30). We must learn to rest in Him. When we are hurting, there is no better place to be than in His arms.