I sniff the air. “I think someone needs a diaper change.”

Scooping up my baby, I head toward the change pad. The change pad is on the floor to protect my wiggly baby from falls.

Along the way, I fetch a toy – a purple rubbery block. Maybe that will serve to keep my baby entertained while I change her diaper.

I place her on the change pad. Immediately the battle begins. She cries and wriggles and tries to roll away.

I show her the purple block and hold it for her to bite. She turns her head away and cries harder.

Pulling out a clean diaper, I hold it for her to see.

“Look. It’s a diaper. I’m going to change your diaper.”

Her crying slows and she reaches for the diaper.

I give it to her.

The cartoon faces printed on the diaper capture her attention.

Seizing the opportunity, I pull off her soiled diaper and grab a wipe.

“Who do you see on your diaper? Do you see Cookie Monster and Big Bird?”

I toss the soiled diaper in the garbage and reach for the clean one in her hands.

“Time to put your diaper on.”

I tug at the one in her hands. She clings tighter.

I pull harder. She loses grip and begins to cry.

I hand the diaper back to her. She calms.

I sigh. “It’s not enough to just look at your diaper. You have to wear it.”

Thankfully I have a pile of clean diapers within reach. I grab another one and put it on her.

This interaction got me thinking.

It’s Christmas time. We celebrate Jesus’ birth with great enthusiasm. We decorate, sing songs, rejoice with family, and give gifts. It’s often a busy time of year.

As I think of the reason behind this season, my words to my baby echo in my head.

“It’s not enough to just look at the diaper. You have to wear it.”

I enjoy hearing the story of Jesus’ birth. It’s a story I’ve heard countless times before.

I try to imagine the shock of the shepherds when the angels showed up.

I wonder what it would have been like to be a wise man travelling so far as they followed that star.

I admire the nativity scene sitting on my shelf. My baby and I love looking at it.

But is that all there is to Christmas? Is it just for looking at?

No. There is more. Christmas day is just the beginning.

The reality of Jesus’ birth should change my life.

If it doesn’t, then I am no better than my baby when she admires her diaper rather than putting it to its proper use by wearing it. Holding a diaper rather than wearing it is rather pointless.

Today, as I reflect on the Christmas just past, rather than simply looking at the nativity scene and then walking away, may I let my life be transformed by seeking to understand why He came the way He did.

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)

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.