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)

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.

A pile of folded green towels behind the title "You're Folding the Towels Wrong"

 

Have you ever heard the age-old debate about the “proper” way to fold towels and sheets?

Should the towels be folded in half and then in thirds? Or perhaps in thirds and then in quarters? No, the best way might be simply in half and then in half again.

It seems every established housewife or business that uses towels claims a different way to be the best and only correct way to fold towels.

During my Bible school days, I attended three different schools all run by the same parent organization. I was surprised just how different they did things at each school. Those differences included how they folded the towels. In fact, in one of the schools, towels had to be folded differently based on whether they were guest towels or kitchen towels.

When I got married and moved into a new place, it took a few weeks to figure out a way of folding towels to enable them to fit into our narrow cupboard while allowing the cupboard door to close.

“So, what’s the point?” you may be asking.

The lesson hidden in the midst of the many towel folding techniques is simple, yet ever so complex.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV tells me:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

A time for what, you may ask? The following verses mention many examples, including:

“A time to be born and a time to die…”

“A time to plant and a time to uproot…”

“A time to weep and a time to laugh…”

“A time to search and a time to give up…”

“A time to keep and a time to throw away…”

“A time to tear and a time to mend…”

“A time to be silent and a time to speak…”

Throughout the Bible I see examples of this. There was a time for Israel and his sons to plant themselves in Egypt, and a time for them to uproot themselves and leave. The Apostle Paul sometimes stayed put in the face of persecution, but at other times fled. Sometimes Jesus was silent, while at other times He spoke with great boldness.

In Luke 10:4, Jesus sent out His disciples with instructions to not bring a purse or bag, but later, in Luke 22:35-36, we read:

“Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’

‘Nothing,’ they answered.

He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'” (NIV)

Why do I point out these things? Because it is valuable for me to be reminded from time to time that, while the core doctrines and what is right or wrong do not change, the best actions to take or the best way to respond may vary from situation to situation.

I often have seen this clearly in my preschool teaching. Some children learn well by sitting quietly, but for others, having movement incorporated helps them pay attention for longer. Some children respond well with a gentle word of correction, while others need firm consequences clearly laid out.

So how do I know what to do in each situation? I don’t. However, previous experience, knowledge of the situation, being well grounded in the Bible, and walking in tune with Jesus all help.

Indeed, may my prayer be like that of David in Psalm 25:4-5,

“Show me Your ways, O Lord;

Teach me Your paths.

Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation;

On You I wait all the day.” (NKJV)

So how do you fold your towels? I currently fold bath towels in thirds and then in quarters because it’s the best way I’ve found to make them fit on my narrow shelf.

An uprooted tree behind the title: Deep Roots?

 

How deep are your roots?

Back when I studied in Germany, there was a forested area I enjoyed slipping away to in the afternoons. This allegory is from my time there.

I pulled on my runners and slipped out the door. With a smile, I breathed in the fresh rainy air. After a morning in lectures and a noisy meal in the dining hall, it was lovely to be outside.

To fend off the chilly edge in the air I tugged on my jacket zipped.

I had a couple of hours before I needed to return to the school, so I headed past the charming little stone church built decades before and followed the street.

After a time, I veered off on a side path. It was slightly muddy due to the dampness of the day.

Softly I sang as I walked, whispering my favourite worship songs into the emptiness of the world around me.

I stooped to check on a familiar stream. It was flowing well today.

When a bird fluttered nearby I paused to watch. As it flew away, I strolled on.

At length, my way led me into a more wild section of forest. It had no paths to guide my feet, but I didn’t mind. I knew the patch of forest was surrounded by civilization on all sides. I couldn’t get too lost.

As I roamed freely among the trees, pausing to study the vines clinging to the tree trunks, or the moss underfoot, I noticed a fallen tree. Had it been there the last time I’d wandered through? I couldn’t remember.

Approaching the fallen tree, I eyed its base. How odd it was.

The tree had not broken its trunk nor torn off from its roots.

Rather, the roots had stayed with the tree and taken much of the ground with it.

Indeed as I rounded the bottom of the tree, I marvelled at the layer of rocky soil now vertically suspended nearly as high as I was tall.

I leaned closer, wondering if I could spot evidence of larger roots still in the ground. I couldn’t.

The tree’s roots hadn’t broken, but they also hadn’t been deep enough to properly anchor the tree. Not only that, but the soil into which the roots had grown was too loose and rocky to keep the tree secure.

Marvelling at the sight, I pondered what I could learn from it.

It didn’t take long to think of an application.

The Bible mentions roots several times.

One example of this is in the Parable of the Sower. The seeds sown on rocky soil have no root. They hear the word and receive it, but when trouble comes they fall away for lack of root. (You can read the parable in Matthew 13:3-8,18-23.)

Challenges come in life.

For a tree, those challenges may be strong winds, heavy snow, or simply the weight of the tree’s own branches. If the tree doesn’t have strong enough roots, it will tip over.

In the case of the tree I observed in that forest, the tree had roots, but they weren’t deep enough or in good enough soil to hold the tree upright in the challenges of life. The roots themselves didn’t break, but they took the loose rocky soil with them when they tipped.

The question to ask myself, then, is how are my roots doing? Do I have deep roots? What sort of soil are my roots anchored into? Am I anchoring my life in Jesus?

In closing, here is another place the Bible mentions roots that serves as a valuable reminder for me.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”  (Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)