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!

Cute baby behind title: Newborns Crave Milk

 

I open my eyes at the sound of stirring in the bassinet beside me. A cry escapes my baby, and then another.

Yawning, I glance at the clock – 5:45 am.

I pull myself out of bed and pick up my little one.

Carrying her through the dim hallway to the living room, I talk to her.

“Did you have a good sleep? Are you hungry again?”

Her eyes drift into sleep, but then scrunch as her cries resume with renewed force.

I settle myself on the couch to nurse her.

As she feeds, my eyes droop dangerously. I shake my head to ward off the drowsiness.

I calculate back to the last time I fed her. I have managed an hour and a half of sleep since then.

When my baby finishes nursing, she sprawls in a milk coma, limp and asleep.

Gratefully, I gingerly carry her back to the bassinet before slipping into my own bed.

I glance at the clock. It’s just after 6:00 am.

My baby will have time to be awake and play later, but for now I pull my blankets snug and let my eyes close.

A short cry wakes me. I hear stirrings beside me.

I glance at the clock – 7:45 am.

Laying still, I listen as the stirrings increase until the cry resumes.

Pushing aside the blankets, I stretch. Time to feed the baby again.

Lifting my crying baby, I head toward the living room again. At least this time I feel more awake.

In 1 Peter 2:2, we read, “Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow up into your salvation,…” (CSB)

How often do newborns crave milk? Do they only want to eat once a week on Sundays? Or perhaps once a day?

No. A newborn baby is likely to want to eat every 2-3 hours, resulting in eight feeds a day.

This leads me to ask myself the question: “How often do I crave the Word of God?”

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 tells me what this can look like.

“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.” (CSB)

I know I have much room for growth in this area.

Newborns crave milk with a passion. When hungry, they zealously plea to be satisfied.

Their hunger is not some passive, “I can do that later.”

They exclaim, “I need food now!”

How urgent is my desire to be in the Bible? How often do I ponder the things of God?

I have one last thought to share before I wrap up this post. For it I must return to 1 Peter.

If I back up one verse to 1 Peter 2:1, I read, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.” (CSB)

I am to rid myself of these ungodly things to help free me up to desire the Word of God.

I’ve noticed something similar in my baby.

Milk goes in and poo comes out. When the poo gets delayed and doesn’t come out for several days, it seems her appetite drops due to lack of space in her little belly.

Then comes the moment when she empties out her poo (and we hope the diaper contains it all). Once that’s done, she is ravenously hungry. Why? Because she has space again.

(Please note I am not a doctor or nurse, but simply a mom making observations and guessing at the reasons behind them.)

I suspect similar is true for me.

In order for me to rightly desire to be in the Word, in a way comparable to a baby desiring milk, my heart must be right. If my heart is full of envy or deceit, it will have no room to ponder the things of God.

Do not misunderstand. This is not a matter of salvation. Being saved and born again is a free gift from God. (To read more about this good news, check out The Gospel.) 

This, rather, is talking to those who are already saved (see 1 Peter 2:3). It is referring to how I am to be growing toward maturity in my walk with the Lord (see 1 Peter 2:2b).

So how is my intake of the Bible doing? How often am I making room in my heart to feast on the very Word of God? How often do my thoughts revolve around the things of God?

Not as often as I would like.

Lord, help me to desire more of Your Word and to be intentional to make time to read and ponder it.

Pregnant woman by title: "Might Be Today"

 

Rising from breakfast, I glanced at the small pile of dishes. I should wash them without delay because it might be today.

I reach for the measuring cup I use to water the houseplants. As I give each plant a drink I wonder, “Is this the last time before it happens?” Just in case, I give them extra.

As I hug my husband and tell him to have a good day at work, I remind him that it could be his last for a while because it might be today.

What might be today?

My baby might be born. Being past the due date now, I’m watching and hoping for signs that she might be coming.

In the meantime, we’re doing our best to keep everything ready.

We keep the dishes clean and the pantry stocked. We’ve already set out extra water for the cat and are at the ready to give her enough food to last longer.

The car seat is sitting by the door and the hospital bag is packed.

My husband’s co-workers have been informed and the truck has gas. We’ve even practiced driving to the hospital to be sure we know where to go.

Now we wait.

Will she come today? I don’t know, but I hope so.

Why do I share these thoughts? Because my baby is not the only one who might be coming today.

Jesus has told us that He is coming again. He might come today, or call me home.

Am I ready?

Is my heart prepared for His return?

Have I done the dishes and packed the hospital bag? Or have I let the dirty dishes pile into an unsightly heap?

Am I living as if this life is all there is or am I prepared for eternity?

In Matthew 24, Jesus is very clear. He is returning one day, but no one knows what day it will be. We must be ready for Him at any moment.

“This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44 CSB)

Likewise, I know my baby is coming, but I don’t know which day. Therefore, I must be prepared for her arrival at any moment.

There is a song that’s been on my mind as I think about Jesus’ near return. It reminds us that:

“It might be today I look into Your eyes. It might be today I see Your face…”  (https://www.worshipsong.com/music/songs/songdetails/it-might-be-today)

Am I ready for His return? 

Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8b CSB) 

Oh, that He would find faith in me and find me ready on the day He returns or calls me home.