My phone beeps. There is a poor air quality alert for my area.

As I sit at my desk while my baby naps, I glance outside. I cannot see the blue sky. The sun is a weird shade of yellow casting a red glow on the floor.

My eyes wander to the other side of the valley where normally I would see green trees and a myriad of colours from the buildings. Everything is grey and faded.

I turn back to my computer. I only have so much time before my baby wakes up. I’ve got to make use of the time.

I pull up the email I’m working on.

A few minutes later, I glance up. The whole sky has dimmed to an orange fog. The speck of bright light which must be the sun is pumpkin orange. I cannot see the other side of the valley. I feel heavy inside and my fight-or-flight system considers kicking in.

I catch a whiff of smoke. I typically don’t mind the smell as it reminds me of many happy times around a campfire, but when the smoke is everywhere… I frown, hoping the windows will keep most of it out.

Trying to focus, I drag my gaze back to my computer screen, but that unsettling orange glow keeps drawing my attention back to the window.

I pray for the firefighters who are working to contain the fire, then remind myself that there is nothing more I can do right now. The forest fire is miles away. I would have to drive more than 500 km (~300 miles) to get there.

Right now, I need to focus on my task.

I turn to my computer. “Okay, I’ve just got to do the next thing. What is the one thing I need to do next?”

I need to look up some numbers to include in my email.

Okay, I can do that.


My eyes wander to the window. I may as well be living on Mars. That’s how orange it looks just now.

I glance at the baby monitor on my desk. She’s still asleep. I’ve got to keep working.

“Do the next thing.”

What’s the next thing?

Find the email addresses I’m sending this email to.

Okay, I can do that.

It takes me a few moments to locate the list. I notice I need to add a few more addresses. I do that.

I glance out the window. Still orange. So weird. Nearly spooky. It makes me feel anxious.

But I’ve got to do the next thing.

What’s the next thing?

Write a subject for the email.

Okay, I can do that.

After a few attempts, I am happy with the subject line.

I reach for my phone and move to the window. I switch to my camera and take several pictures. I want to capture the feel of it, but the camera simply won’t do justice to the strength of the orange outside.

I give up. Back at my desk, I remind myself, my baby could wake up any time now. I’ve got to do the next thing.

Proofread my email.

Okay, I can do that.

I read it aloud, tweaking some words as I go. At last, I am satisfied and hit send.

Leaning back in my chair, I peer out the window. Is it just me, or is the orange beginning to fade?

Oh, look! I can see some of the buildings across the valley. Certainly not in full colour, but the dim outlines are back.

I crane my neck to locate the sun. It appears somewhat, almost, yellow-ish again.

A hint of the weight inside me lightens. Perhaps, just maybe, the blue sky will be visible again and the sun will shine its happy yellow.

It might take a few days, but I know the sky is blue and I will not give up hope that I will see that blue again.

Why share this story? Because it holds a valuable reminder for me.

Sometimes life gets smokey when something creates smoke which comes in and blocks our vision. That something may be close to home and personal, or perhaps far bigger but further away.

Much of the time, there is nothing we can do to stop that smoke until the source fire is dealt with.

At this moment, I can pray, but beyond that there is nothing I can do to stop those forest fires. I am helpless to stop the smoke from crowding into my life.

The smoke makes it hard to see and hard to breathe. I cannot see the happy blue sky and yellow sun. Everything looks grey and stinks.

Sometimes life feels like that.

What should I do then?


Trust that God is still God.

And do the next thing.

Perhaps you have heard of Elisabeth Elliot? I learned the concept of “do the next thing” from listening to her teaching. (Here is a link to her teaching)

Elisabeth Elliot was a missionary. Not long into her time of ministry, her husband, Jim Elliot, was murdered by the very people they had been trying to reach in love.

Elisabeth was left in a foreign country with a young baby. Later she was able to befriend and minister to the very people who killed her husband.

Many years later, Elisabeth remarried only to watch her new husband get sick and die.

Elizabeth has written many books, my favourite being “Through Gates of Splendor”.

Elisabeth Elliot once wrote:

“‘Do the next thing.’ I don’t know any simpler formula for peace, for relief from stress and anxiety than that very practical, very down-to-earth word of wisdom. Do the next thing. That has gotten me through more agonies than anything else I could recommend.” ― Elisabeth Elliot, Suffering Is Never for Nothing

This sounds like a wise principle, but where do we see it in the Bible?

I’m glad you asked.

Joseph is one example of this mindset being lived out.

What did he do when his brothers sold him into slavery? Did he protest and fight against those around him? No. He did the next thing.

When he was thrown into prison unjustly, did he sit in the corner pouting? No. He did the next thing.

As a foreign slave turned prisoner turned second-in-command over the entire country, did Joseph become paralyzed by the grandness of it all? No. He did the next thing.

I like Psalm 37:34a: “Wait for the Lord and keep His way…” (NASB)

Joseph was waiting for God’s deliverance, but in the meantime, he lived according to God’s ways while he did one next thing after another.

The next time I find my life smothered in smoke, may I remain diligent to do the next thing while I wait for the smoke to clear.


This week I’m taking a break from sharing allegories from my own life. Instead, I’m sharing an allegory Corrie ten Boom often spoke of.

(Note that while tapestries and embroideries are different based on the methods used, I use both terms interchangeably in this post.)

Have you heard of Corrie ten Boom? If not, let me fill you in.

Corrie ten Boom was a Christian and a Dutch watchmaker. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, Corrie and her family became involved in helping hide the Jews.

Eventually, the Nazis caught on and arrested Corrie, her sister, Betsie, and their elderly father. Her father died 10 days later.

Corrie and Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck – a brutal concentration camp. They were forced to work hard, given little to eat, and abused. Betsie died there, but Corrie miraculously was released.

After the war, Corrie travelled the world sharing her story and her faith in God.

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend reading her biography: The Hiding Place.

Okay. Now that you know who Corrie ten Boom was and understand that she endured greater hardship than many of us can imagine, let me share an allegory she often told.

When speaking, Corrie would hold up a cloth with a jumble of dark and light threads that were all haphazard and unruly.

Holding the cloth for all to see, Corrie would explain how that cloth represented what we can see of our life. Our lives look jumbled and often the dark seasons we endure (like the dark threads) make no sense.

Then she would turn the cloth around revealing an intricately embroidered crown. She would explain that God sees this side of the cloth and one day will reveal it to us. 

Those dark threads, or dark seasons of our lives, make no sense right now but one day we’ll see what God was up to. The dark threads are necessary to make the whole embroidery stunningly beautiful.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

In closing, let me leave you with a poem Corrie ten Boom often quoted to capture this allegory.

Life is But a Weaving (The Tapestry Poem)

By Grant Tuller


My life is but a weaving

Between my God and me.

I cannot choose the colors

He weaveth steadily.


Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;

And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper

And I the underside.


Not ’til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Will God unroll the canvas

And reveal the reason why.


The dark threads are as needful

In the weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.


He knows, He loves, He cares;

Nothing this truth can dim.

He gives the very best to those

Who leave the choice to Him.


I set my baby on her feet. “There, you’ve got your pyjamas on. Now it’s time for your sleep sack.”

I fetch her sleep sack – a wearable blanket to keep her warm at night.

She begins to fuss.

Scooping her up I slide her arms into the sleep sack then do up the zipper.

“I know you don’t like going to bed, but you’re tired and it’s nighttime.”

Her fussing increases and switches to a repeated word. “Bear Bear. Bear Bear. Bear Bear.”

I glance around the room. “I don’t know where Bear Bear is, but we can go find him.”

My baby in my arms, we hunt for her favourite teddy bear.

At length we find him in the kitchen.

“There’s Bear Bear.”

I lower her so she can pick up the teddy bear.

She does, clutching him to herself and relaxing. “Bear Bear.”

I cuddle her close. “You like Bear Bear a lot.”

A few minutes later, I place her in her crib. She clings to her teddy bear and cries.

“Goodnight.” I say, “Have a good sleep.”

I close the door and fetch the baby monitor.

Watching the video feed on the little screen, I observe her hugging the bear close. When she stops crying and lies down, she still has the bear securely in her grip.

She croons, “Bear Bear,” before falling asleep.

The following morning, when I go to lift my baby out of her crib, her first words are not a greeting for me. No, something else is on her mind.

“Bear Bear. Bear Bear.”

I lower her back into the crib so she can grab the teddy bear whom she had let go of at some point during the night.

She hugs him close. “Ahh… Bear Bear.”

Now she’s ready to begin her day.

When I set her down in the living room to play, she drops her bear on the floor and reaches for a ball.

That’s where Bear Bear is likely to spend most of his morning until naptime when she seeks him out again.

Recently, observing my baby’s interaction with her teddy bear left me pondering the question “Is Jesus my teddy bear?”

Let me explain.

Bear Bear is one of my daughter’s favorite toys. His name is one of the few words she can say. He is her lovey – the toy she seeks out for comfort at bedtime.

Do I seek God when I need comfort?

When trouble comes (such as bedtime for my baby) do I run to Jesus for help?

If so, good.

Seeking God in times of trouble is good and right. He is the One who is almighty and in control. Certainly I should seek Him when I need comfort.

As the Psalmist writes, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid” (Psalm 56:3-4a NIV).

The next question is: How do I treat God when things are good?

Do I follow my baby’s example of leaving her teddy bear abandoned on the floor?

Her teddy bear could get stepped on or lost, but she is heedless of these risks. She forgets about Bear Bear until the next crisis comes.

Do I forget about God when life is going well? Does He disappear from my thoughts and my life as soon as trouble fades?

Stating that my baby never plays with her bear except at bedtime is an overstatement.

Occasionally she spots him laying haphazardly on the floor and is reminded of her great affection for him. She will toddle over to him and pick him up to play for a few minutes until the next toy catches her fancy.

Also, if someone happens to mention “teddy bear” she will be reminded of her precious “Bear Bear” and will desire to have him. She will look for him and cry if she cannot find him.

What about me? When life is good, do I only think about God if someone mentions Him or if I stumble across some other reminder of Him?

I hope I treat God better than that.

God doesn’t want to just be my rescue when trouble comes.

Don’t get me wrong. It is good to run to Him when need arises. Yet God wants to be so much more than that to me. God wants to be at the centre of my life whether my days are happy or troubled.

God wants me to acknowledge Him in all my ways (Proverbs 3:6). God wants everything I do to be done for Him (Colossians 3:23). He wants me to always be giving thanks to Him (Ephesians 5:20).

That sounds like a lot more than only seeking Jesus when the going gets hard.

This week, may Jesus be more than just my teddy bear. May I not forget Him when the going is easy, but rather, may I walk closely with Him now and always.

May my prayer be the words of the song, Be The Centre:

[Jesus], be the fire in my heart.
Be the wind in these sails.
Be the reason that I live.

Toddler learning to walk behind title: Learning to Walk by Faith


The Bible tells us that we are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Do Christians instantly master walking by faith the moment they meet Jesus, or is it a process?

I’ve been watching my baby learn to walk recently. It’s been quite intriguing. Let me tell you what I mean.


“Can you do it? Can you walk to Mommy?”

Squatting across from my baby, I coax her to take a step. My husband holds her just out of my arm’s reach.

Will this be the moment?

I look at my husband. “Do you think she can do it?”

She’s been doing all the right things. She loves strolling the hallway holding my fingers. Recently she’s gained confidence in holding onto only one finger. She’s been getting so much more stable. Surely she can do it. Surely this will be the moment.

“Come on, girl. You can do it. Come to Mama.”

Clinging to her dad’s hand, my little one steps toward me as far as she can.

I shift back leaving a foot-long gap.

“Come on. You gotta let go to walk to Mama.”

But that’s scary. She doesn’t want to let go. She might fall.

She whines a little, reaching for me, but not wanting to let go.

Then she does it. She lets go and takes two steps before plunging headfirst toward me.

I catch her in time.

We cheer. She beams her biggest smile.

I turn her around.

“Now walk to Daddy. You can do it.”

She takes a deep breath.

Clinging to my finger, she walks to the very edge of my reach.

Then she does it. She lets go, takes two steps, and plunges headfirst toward her daddy.

He catches her.

We celebrate again.

My baby is walking! How exciting is that?!


The next few days I watched for her to initiate walking on her own. She didn’t.

I was surprised. I thought a baby who could walk would, well, walk.

It wasn’t until, a couple of evenings later, when my husband and I sat across the living room from each other urging her to walk between us that she walked by herself again.

This time, she went a little farther. Still, she only dared walk if one of us was there to catch her.

So many people had told me that as soon as she learned to walk she’d be running around with me chasing behind.

I subconsciously concluded that as soon as she took those first steps, it would be as though a light turned on and then within hours, or maybe minutes, she would be toddling all over. I was wrong.

For the first week, she could barely take more than 3 steps before toppling headlong. Gradually, with practice, she increased the number of steps she could take.

For what seemed a long time, she only walked if a person or soft couch was her destination – something safe to catch her fall.

It was more than two weeks after those first steps before she dared venture into the middle of the room by herself where she immediately plopped down to play with a toy.

It has been fun watching her ability and confidence grow. Both are needed to walk well.

Likewise, learning to walk by faith is a process. It does not happen overnight. To start, I must take those terrifying first steps. Then I must practice taking just a few unsteady steps again and again.

Some days I might get discouraged when I notice I am walking by sight rather than by faith. I must not let that trap me in defeat. With God’s help, I must get back up and try to walk by faith again.

Gradually my ability and confidence will increase as I place my confidence not in myself, but in my God. (2 Corinthians 3:4-5)

It takes time and persistent practice to grow in my ability to walk by faith. If my baby gave up practicing walking and simply crawled everywhere, she would never learn to walk.

I must allow myself to try again even when I fall and get a bump.

Today, may I not give up, but rather, with God’s help, may I be persistent in practicing walking by faith.


Clutter. It’s hard to keep on top of it.

The secret to a perfectly clean house is something I have yet to discover.

Every so often I get inspired to organize. I choose an area and brainstorm. Eventually the brainstorming changes to action… most of the time.

My most recent target was my desk, but let me back up and tell you the story from the beginning. It went something like this:

From my vantage point on the floor, where I sat steadying my baby’s attempt to stand, I scowled at my desk.

There it was, in plain sight in the living room with the eye sore stack of papers on it. There must be something I could do to make it look better.

Should I file away the papers? No. I needed easy access to them for my current projects.

Perhaps I should move the desk? Nope. Even if I could manage to shuffle things around in another area to make a new home for my desk, it wouldn’t help. The living room is where most of my baby’s toys live, and I have to be able to supervise her. If the desk wasn’t easily accessible while keeping an eye on my baby, I would end up with my papers all over the couch rather than the desk.

I caught my baby as she tottered forward. Settling her on the floor with a teddy bear, I racked my brain for a solution.

If I couldn’t put away the papers and I couldn’t move the desk, then I must need some sort of improved organization.

I smiled as the answer came to me. I would buy an organizer – perhaps a set of letter trays. Then I could sort the papers into tidy categorized piles.

Later, while stuck in a chair holding a sleeping baby, I pulled out my phone. Time to do some research.

I scrolled through plastic, wire mesh, and wooden letter trays. Some opened on the long edge while most opened on the short edge. I puzzled over which would look best in the space, while not ignoring the price tags.

I noticed that some of the trays came built as sets of three or five. Others were more flexible with the ability to have as many or as few in a stack as I desired.

Black would be the best colour in my space, I decided, and since my desk was rather crowded, it would be best if my computer monitor could sit on top of the trays.

By the time my husband came home, I’d scoured the internet and narrowed it down to eight options.

Eagerly I ran the options past him.

He listened patiently, asking relevant questions. I skimmed through the reviews on two of the options. Perhaps we would order one of them that very evening.

Then my husband asked a question that made me stop in my tracks.

“What is the main purpose for buying this? What are you trying to accomplish?”

“Well,” I rambled, “I need to organize the papers, and the space under the monitor is poorly utilized at the moment so I want to make use of that. Because our house is small, we need to make use of all the small spaces.”

Although those reasons were on my mind, my answer didn’t feel quite right. I was missing the core of the matter.

I paused to think, then answered slowly. “I suppose the biggest thing I am trying to do is make the living room look more presentable. The desk is cluttered with papers, but I need those papers easily accessible. Therefore, I need a better place to put them.”

My husband suggested that perhaps a monitor stand with shelves would work.

This seemed like a valid idea, so I skimmed a list of monitor stands, but none of them seemed just right. It was getting to be bedtime and my steam was gone.

I recorded the potential options, then put the idea aside. I had other things to focus on for the time being, such as finishing my current project.

A week or two later, the itch to fix that unsightly pile of toppling papers on my desk returned, yet I still hadn’t figured out which organizer would fit the bill.

Letter trays or open shelves, I reasoned, would merely make the mess look more like an organized mess. Rather than one pile of papers, there would be multi-layer piles.

A unit with opaque drawers for the piles to disappear into. That was what I needed.

Again I researched.

Finally I stumbled upon one I liked. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do the job. It was plastic from a familiar brand. The three drawers were a colour that would look good in my living room. They were cost-effective as well.

There was a catch… They were only available in sets of four units, each containing three drawers.

Uncertain what my husband would think of buying so many organizers, I began to brainstorm how to tell him about them. Where would we put all of them? Could we put them all to use? Why these ones?

When my husband finished work, I told him my plan. He was supportive of the idea.

We did a price check at a different store, then pulled out the measuring tape just to make sure it was a good size before we hit “buy”.

It was a bit bigger than I’d originally wanted, but it would do. Soon my papers would have their own homes and our living room would look so much better.

Then, measuring tape still in hand, I glanced down at my desk. It was a desk with one drawer, two cupboards, and two slots. Those two slots very much resembled the sort of organizer I had been searching for.

Both slots already had items in them, but they were poorly utilized. One of them only contained a few rarely glanced at books.

A quick shuffle would be sufficient to move those books to the bookshelf. Then I could use folders to organize my papers and tuck them into the slot.

No, it wasn’t drawers, but it was built-in rather than taking desktop space, and I already owned it.

So I didn’t need to buy an organizer after all. I already had one.

Shaking my head at the amount of work I’d put into trying to find something just like that slot – the slot I already had – I closed the tabs of the online stores and set my phone aside. I would make use of what I already had rather than trying to buy something new to fill that need.

All that time could have been used for something better and more productive. Something like writing my next blog post.

At least there was one thing of value from all that planning and researching. The experience had given me a new allegory to share.

You see, just as I wasted much time and effort trying to get an organizing tool when I already had one, sometimes I go to great lengths in my life trying to obtain something God has already made accessible to me.

A specific example of this could be peace. Jesus has told us:

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

Yet sometimes, when I’m not feeling peaceful, I find myself searching for peace everywhere except in leaning closer to Jesus.

The same holds true of many other things such as rest, joy, love, acceptance, purpose, and value.

All these are things I yearn for at a very deep level. The world suggests various ways to obtain them, but only in Jesus can these needs truly be satisfied at their deepest level.

I may not realize what it is I’m actually seeking.

Sometimes I need my husband to ask that question:

“What is the main purpose for doing this? What are you trying to accomplish?”

Why did I buy that sweater that I don’t really like? Because I was trying to please my friend. Why was I trying to please my friend? Because I long for a deep sense of acceptance.

That longing can only truly be satisfied at its deepest level when I press into Jesus and embrace the acceptance He has already given me.

Similarly, the peace, love, happiness, and purpose the world has to offer doesn’t even come close to how Jesus is able to, and wants to, satisfy these longings of mine at the deepest level.

There is a reason the Bible talks about the peace God offers as passing all understanding (Phil. 4:6-7).

There simply isn’t any other peace so rich and full and deep to be found. Only Jesus offers that type of peace.

So where have I been spending my time, money, and energy lately?

When I ask the question: “What is the main purpose for doing this? What are you trying to accomplish?” Do I find that I am seeking to satisfy one of my deepest longings with something temporal?

Only God can truly satisfy my deepest longings in a rich and lasting way.

He has already offered this satisfaction to me. Why should I waste my time, money, and energy on what doesn’t satisfy?

May I pause to lean into Jesus today that He may satisfy my deepest longings.