Picture of broom and dustpan behind title: Have I Swept the Corners

 

I placed my baby on the floor so I could tidy the kitchen.

She’s mobile now so I keep a close eye on her.

As I clear the breakfast things off the table, I watch her inspect the dishwasher.

She pulls at the bottom drawer handle. I grin as I set the dirty dishes aside. It’s incredible how much babies are drawn to door handles.

She looks down the heat vent as I wash her bib and highchair tray. It makes a fun sound when she pats it.

Then she looks at the corner. She crawls over to the white baseboards and begins grabbing at something on the floor.

I look closer.

“No, not those. Those aren’t for you.”

I squat beside her and pull something from her hand. A dried up leaf from the plants on the windowsill.

I shift her away.

Pulling out a stainless steel bowl, I encourage her to drum on it. Surely that will be a good distraction for her.

I take a moment to water the plants on the windowsill.

Next thing I know, there is my baby, reaching for those same dried-up leaves again.

I pull her away, sit her up, and place the drum right in front of her lap. I give her a toy chain link to drum with.

That entertains her for a while. In fact, that’s how I have time to record this story.

Now that my little one is mobile, I’m learning a lot about the number of crumbs I have on the floor. How is it that a little baby can find even the smallest crumb or fuzz?

She earnestly tries to grab such tiny things so as to stick them in her mouth.

Before now, I would often ignore the little bits of dirt on the floor. Occasionally I’d sweep or vacuum, but only when it got uncomfortably bad.

We have a cat. There’s lots of fur around. I didn’t let it bother me, but now here comes my baby, crawling along. When she finds a fuzz it goes straight into her mouth.

Of course, I stop her when I see her doing so. Nevertheless, it reminds me of the necessity of sweeping – even in the corners.

Then I wonder about my life. Have I been sweeping the corners or ignoring the dirt?

As a mom, I’m about to see all the dirt I’ve left in the corners of my life when my little one decides to mimic them. She’ll see what I’m doing, even the things I’m oblivious to, and she’ll copy them.

Then I’ll realize I need to sweep better.

This isn’t just for parents, though. Anyone who has younger folks in their life, watching how they live, is setting an example – even with those corners they forgot to sweep.

In fact, all of us are being watched by someone – our spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, neighbours, coworkers. They see how we live.

The Bible has a lot to say about taking care of the dirt in the corners of our lives.

Proverbs reminds us that we are known by our actions.

“Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.” Proverbs 20:11 (NKJV)

We are also told:

“Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16b (CSB)

Our lives are to be that lamp on a stand through which God can give light to those around us. (Matthew 5:14-16)

But how are my actions? Am I really shining? Or is there dirt in the corners blotting out God’s light in me?

I suppose I need to ask God if there are any corners I’ve missed, and then surrender them to Him so He can help me clean them out.

I need to sweep the corners before my baby gets the crumbs.

Baby beginning to crawl behind title: Are We On The Move?

 

Excitedly, I picked up my phone and switched to the camera.

I did my best to hold it steady as I captured the moment. My baby was moving!

For quite some time she has been able to pivot on her tummy, but now she’s figured out how to move on her tummy.

I set a toy on the far side of the room. Then recorded her movement as she made her way to it.

Is this what you call crawling?

Excited by this new development, I selected a short clip of the recording and sent it to my relatives, asking, “Does this count as crawling?”

My relatives were very kind in their responses. They were encouraging, but honest.

“Definitely on the move!”

“She’s scooting for sure!”

“I call that belly crawling… Definitely mobile!!”

“Beginning of crawling, soon to be up on her knees!”

Their comments mentioned that to reach the milestone called crawling it was necessary to get her belly off the ground. So far my baby, although moving, was still dragging her belly.

As a first-time mom I’m so excited about her movement and excited for her to reach the milestone of crawling. She is definitely moving now but not technically crawling yet.

This isn’t the first time I’ve wondered if her actions could be considered crawling. Sometime back she was able, on particular surfaces, to inch herself around on her tummy using her knees.

Now she can move on just about any surface. She no longer requires having bare feet to get enough grip. She can do it in a sleeper with her feet covered.

She’s moving so well that she chased the cat around the kitchen at lunch time a few days ago. Now she can play with a ball because when it rolls away she can go get it.

So is this crawling? I think the term belly crawling is correct.

In order to crawl she will have to pass several more stages. Thus far she has hardly attempted to get onto her knees. When she realises she needs to get on her knees, then she’ll have to learn to coordinate her knee movements with her arm movements and to keep her belly off the ground. Then, at last, she will be crawling.

Will she have arrived then?

Once she’s crawling she’ll learn to walk.

Learning to walk starts with learning to stand with assistance and walk with assistance, both of which she thoroughly enjoys already.

Then she will need to learn to pull herself up on objects, and then to stand by herself. Once she has those figured out, she will need to learn to take steps and walk on her own. Eventually she’ll reach the milestone of walking.

But then there’ll be more to learn.

When she’s walking she will need to learn to run and jump. She’ll learn how to skip. Perhaps one day she will learn to walk on a balance beam or slackline, or perhaps even a tightrope.

Well, I suppose not many of us learn to use tightropes so she likely won’t learn that one, but you get the idea.

I think Christians are often similar.

For Christians, there are many stages of spiritual development.

My Christian life started at salvation but then I must learn to live as Jesus did. This is a journey through many stages and phases.

Along the way, I may feel like I’ve arrived at a milestone, and thus have attained a state of completion.

I may think there is nothing more to learn, no deeper level to reach.

This is dangerous thinking.

When I think I’ve arrived I may stay where I’m at for the rest of my life.

If my baby thought she’d arrived and never learned to crawl on her hands and knees, or to walk, or to run or jump or skip, I would know she’s missed out on a lot of life.

The same is true in my Christian life. If I think I’ve arrived and don’t keep striving to grow and seek God more, I will miss out on a great deal of what God desires to give me.

Even the Apostle Paul realised this. He wrote:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

If the Apostle Paul says this about himself, then surely I also have more to learn and grow.

May I keep seeking to know God more and not stall in my Christian walk.

So where does that leave my baby? For the time being, she feels like she has arrived.

She’s enjoying her new found freedom to move and go where she wants. So far she hasn’t realised there is more.

Soon she will be trying to get on her knees and, before I know it, she’ll be crawling on her hands and knees all over the place. Then in the blink of an eye she’ll be learning to walk.

As for me, I don’t know what next step God has in store for me, but I will let the realisation that there is room to grow urge me onward in my pursuit of Jesus.

 

Orange cat outside behind title: What's Grabbed Your Attention?

 

Hearing my baby fuss, I scoop her off the mat. She’s bored and getting tired, but it’s not nap time yet.

I glance around. What can I show her that will capture her interest?

The window. She likes looking out.

Turning toward it, I spot movement. A neighbourhood cat is just outside.

Perfect!

I waste no time in settling my baby on a low bookshelf in front of the window.

Supporting her from behind, I notice that her head is tilted down. She’s not looking outside. She’s looking at her toes.

Attempting to navigate the tightrope between redirecting my baby’s attention and scaring away the fluffy cat, I speak eagerly, “Do you see the cat?”

No reaction from my baby.

I try snapping my fingers where I want her to look. “There’s an orange cat outside.”

Still nothing.

The large cat is beginning to meander away.

I tap the window ever so slightly. “Look outside.”

My baby’s attention remains transfixed on her toes.

As the cat prepares to round a corner out of sight, I throw caution to the wind.

I tap louder. “It’s a cat!”

Nothing.

The cat wanders out of sight and my baby, well, she is still admiring those toes of hers.

I sigh.

My baby gets excited when she spots our cat, so I thought surely she would be fascinated by a large orange cat outside. Her interest in her toes started several weeks back. Wouldn’t a cat be a thrilling change?

It likely would have been, if only she had looked up and noticed it.

Then I pause to wonder, “How often does God feel this way about me?”

How often does He try to show me something new and bigger – something beyond myself? Yet there I am just staring down at my toes totally unaware of His attempts to capture my attention.

What is it that holds my attention, distracting me from what God wants to show me? Is it something bad?

Maybe, but not necessarily.

My baby’s fascination with her toes is, indeed, a healthy part of baby development. She has, so to speak, “found her toes”.

When she first found her toes we were excited.

Now that she has spent much of the past several weeks studying those toes, I wanted to take her further. I wanted to show her something new in the world beyond her toes.

Is the same true of me?

Is there some good and healthy area of life that I have become fixated on for too long? Does God want to show me something more? Something beyond myself?

(Please note that when I speak of something new and something more, I do not mean something beyond the Bible. God never contradicts His written Word.)

Are there examples of this sort of problem, where someone’s attention has been grabbed by their toes when God wants to show them something more?

The disciples sometimes had this problem, as we read in Matthew 16:5-12:

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread.

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Then they understood that He was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (NIV)

Can you think of other examples?

Okay, that’s a deep thought, but how do I apply it to my life?

How do I tune my ears to be ready when He calls for my attention?

In the past, when God sought my attention, He has done so through my standard daily Bible reading time. At other times, it has been through the teaching of godly pastors. A wise word from a friend or family member is yet another way God has grabbed my attention before.

As I go about my day today, may I be intentional to include time in the Bible, solid Christian teaching, and wise friends, as I keep my eyes open to what God may want to capture my attention with.

Woman standing in front of two doors behind title: Choices: There are only two

 

Pulling out my laptop, I turn it on. I settle onto a comfortable seat and open a web browser.

The time to introduce solid food to my baby is closing in fast now that she is four months old.

She certainly thinks it is time for more than just milk.

Every chance she gets she reaches for our food. Anytime she spots us eating, she drops her toy and studies our every movement as we take a bite, chew, and swallow. (I’m certain she’s taking notes for when her turn comes.)

With these things in mind, I open an online shopping website. Shopping online is much easier than in person with a four month old in tow.

I review my mental list of the items I need: a bib, baby spoons, and some sort of bowl or plate for giving her food as she learns to feed herself.

Okay, I may as well start with the bib. I type “silicone bib” into the search bar because I want a bib that’s easy to wipe clean and has a food catcher that stays open.

I glance at the number of results. Over 1,000! Oh boy, that’s a lot of items to sort through as I decide which one to buy.

I begin scrolling through the items. Some come in sets of two or three bibs. Some come with bowls or plates. Some have super cute designs. Others are not silicone bibs at all.

I survey the prices and sample the reviews on a few items. The cheapest ones may not last as long.

I study one of the more expensive ones that has a fantastic rating. Wait. I’ve seen that bib design before.

I scroll back through the items. Yes, there it is. I count the number of size adjustments and study the picture. Yup. It’s the same bib, just in a different colour.

As I continue to browse I note that, while there are four or five different makes of silicone bibs with food catchers, the majority of the options are simply different colours or patterns of the same bib, even when the sellers label them as different brands.

Well, that simplifies my options a lot.

Next, I begin to focus on which items are contained in each set. I figure that, since I want a spoon and a bowl anyways, why not get them with the bib?

Even with that decision made, there are still so many options to choose from: wooden spoons, silicone spoons, fork and spoon sets, plates with dividers, bowls, and containers with lids.

Finally, I settle on a set that comes with one silicone bowl, one silicone baby spoon, and a bib.

Now to choose the colour. At least this set only has three options. I settle on light turquoise.

Phew. That was a lot of choices to make. Sometimes having so many choices can be overwhelming and, at the very least, time-consuming.

Thinking about choosing between so many options leads me to ponder life.

In life, I have many choices. I choose which clothes to wear, and I choose the type of people I spend time with. I choose what I do with my free time, and I choose which type of food to buy.

For example, when Moses knew his time of death was near, he instructed the Israelites about how to live by giving them laws. Having laid all these out he said to them,

“…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20a (NIV)

The biggest choice I make each day is whether or not to follow Jesus.

I’m not referring to the choice to receive Jesus as my Saviour when I understand what the Gospel is. Accepting that Jesus died on the cross to give me new life is a one-time decision.

Rather, I am referring to the ongoing decision to submit my will to Jesus and to walk closely with Him. This is a decision I must make anew every day.

Indeed, each new morning I have many choices. Most importantly, I get to choose who or what to live my life for.

I may choose to live my life for pleasure. I may choose to live my life for the wonderful feeling of helping others. I may choose to live my life for the pursuit of money, popularity, and fame.

All these may sound like different options, and they look very different in how they are lived out. Yet, when I examine them closer they really are not all that different.

Just as so many of the bibs looked different but in reality were the exact same make of bib, in a similar way most of the choices of how I live my life are in reality all the same. They lead away from the abundant life Jesus wants to give me (John 10:10).

When I look under the surface I really only have two options to choose from. Will I follow Jesus today? Or will I go my own way?

Perhaps the words of Joshua are a fitting note to end this post on.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

 

There they are, sitting in the corner of the room. Yes, they are tucked away, but still I see them. The boxes from two gifts I received recently.

Entering the living room, I settle on the couch and my eyes wander back to where they sit.

“Is it time to throw them out?” I wonder.

Both the mixer and the humidifier that came in the boxes have been opened and used. They appear to work well.

They have found homes elsewhere in my house, yet still the boxes sit there. Should I throw them out?

From the couch I convince myself that, yes, it is time to throw them out. Next time I’m standing, I will throw them out.

Still, doubt rises. I have not yet had them for 30 days. What if they malfunction and stop working? I could take them back, but I would need the box and all the packaging.

I shake my head. The boxes are cluttering up the space. The items have worked just fine. Besides, the store may not be willing to receive them back now that I’ve used them.

But, what if…

I’ll ask my husband what he thinks when he gets off work. That will settle things.

With that I push the thoughts away and turn to the task I am supposed to be working on.

— — —

That evening, I forgot to ask my husband his opinion, so the boxes stayed put.

Several times this debate took place in my head as I eyed the boxes. I didn’t like the space they were consuming, but what if…?

With the empty boxes still sitting nearby as I type, I ask the question, are there any boxes I need to throw out in my life?

For me, some of those boxes still kicking around in my head and heart might be the “that’s not how it used to be” comments.

True, there may have been good in how things used to be done. Still, holding onto those thoughts creates clutter that steals from my ability to enjoy the new ways of doing things.

An example cropped up in my life recently related to my pregnancy.

I used to be a morning person. Before 9am used to be my best time for writing. During pregnancy, however, my mind was sluggish most mornings. That’s not how it used to be, yet if I hang onto that thought too tightly, I may slip into grumbling and bitterness.

Indeed, with a new baby around, there are many changes I must embrace, and I can do it much better if I throw out the boxes.

Now, that might be a useful life principle, but I believe there is a more important box to throw out when it comes to following Jesus.

Throwing away those boxes that are sitting in my living room feels a bit risky because it is a commitment – a commitment that I will not be taking those items back for a refund. Once the boxes are gone, if one of the items breaks, it’s on me to buy a replacement.

Similarly, choosing to give my life 100% to Jesus can feel risky. What if I don’t like what He asks me to do? What if I want my old life back?

In Matthew 8:19-22 ESV, we see that Jesus wants us to be all in – no holding onto boxes.

“A scribe came up and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Another of the disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.'” 

Elsewhere Jesus said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  (Matthew 16:25 ESV)

So what about me? Am I following Jesus with my entire life, or do I cling to some boxes that are keeping me back?

Just like the boxes still cluttering my living room, it is time for me to get rid of those boxes that are hindering me in my walk with Jesus.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

P.S. I have since recycled those boxes. My living room looks much better without them!