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A New To-Do List

The to-do list

Wait, that may deserve bold type:

The To-Do List

If you are a list maker, you get me. You get that if the thrill of making a to-do list is surpassed by anything, it is only surpassed by the thrill of

Marking Something Off the List.

Word. Some of you are feelin’ me. Am I right? Yep, your head’s nodding too.

BC (before cancer), the productivity of any day was directly proportional to the number of items marked off a to-do list. Therefore, by the Law of Inverse Something or Other, a day was not productive at all if nothing was scratched off the to-do list. 

So when I started my experiment, I had a dilemma. A serious one. I was leaving my days wide open for God, and though there was more satisfaction in that than I can put into words, my own to-do lists were gathering dust. Items on those lists were being eliminated at a frighteningly slow rate of speed. I know, I KNOW, that my priorites are much closer to where they should be now than they used to be. But old ways of thought die hard, and I couldn’t fully escape this sense of being “unproductive.”

Finally, one day it hit me. I mean it hit me like a ton of bricks. Duh, Sara, duh. All you need to do is come up with a to-do list that you can actually do. A list that matches your new priorities. 

So here’s my new list:

 

That’s it. Not rocket science, I know. As I face any decision during the day about how to spend my time, I see if it fits one or more of these items. As I lay down every night, I think through my day and determine how many of those items I could cross off for that day. I freely admit I rarely complete my list. (But if I could easily cross off the whole list each day, then it wasn’t a real to-do list, was it, list keepers? 🙂 Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. There’s got to be a challenge.)

In case you are wondering, “Train the warriors” is of course about raising my boys. I have just decided in recent months that I wanted to become a little more focused in this regard, and using the phrase “train the warriors” helps me to remember the seriousness and importance of my goal in parenting them. We don’t just want to raise them to be generally well-adjusted members of society. We want to raise them to be courageous men who fight on the Lord’s side at all times while they pass through this life as strangers and aliens.

Oh, I still have the other kinds of lists, but to be honest I only look at them a few times a week. They no longer control me and they no longer get to dictate whether or not I have been “productive.”

So, here’s an example of how this helps me:

A few weeks ago I planned to run an afternoon errand with the boys – taking some items back to Sears. For some reason that day, I thought of a shut-in that we hadn’t visited in quite awhile. I didn’t know why she came to mind that day, so I decided maybe we needed to go see her. (See my last post.) I also know that I want to train my boys to have a Godly love and respect for the elderly, especially their spiritual elders. So I figured out this activity fell into both #1 and #4 on my list, and I decided to abandon my other to-do list item of making returns. That sweet lady died just one week later, and I am eternally thankful God prompted me to go and visit her just one last time. My mom was running errands the other day in Cool Springs and was able to make my Sears return for me quite easily. Thank you, God, for helping me make the right choice that day.

I give you this example not to be boastful, but just to encourage you that though I get it wrong most times, when I do manage to get it right, God makes everything else work out. 

So for my list-making friends: if you are thinking about trying “the experiment” but balk at the idea of abandoning the to-do list, I humbly recommend that you try making a new one. One like this one that can be added to the top of your other lists. Yours probably won’t look like mine. Many of you may come up with better ones. I’d love to hear if you try it, and I’d love to hear one or two items you think of that I should think about adding to mine. It’s a work in progress. I hope that I am constantly learning more about how to walk in God’s paths; constantly being transformed closer to the image of Christ.

Just a few of my thoughts for today, friends. May God richly bless you this day with a greater sense of His abiding presence. I can’t think of any better blessing He could give. Unless Jesus were to come back. That’d be just fine by me…

Sara Walker





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11 Responses to “A New To-Do List”

  1. Jill April 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Oh Gracious Lord, we hear you! Your messages to us thru Sara, we hear them and Father we are listening. You knew I needed this one Lord. Yes, I remember, I use to live like this. It is bringing back precious memories of many years ago when I followed a plan much like this. What happened? Life, I know. It is like a roller coaster that starts out slow but keeps gaining speed and before you know it, you’re windblown and exhilerated but it is with life, busyness, and worry. Not the joy giving Life you offer! What I love about you most is now that I remember, I will start again. You are not mad at me, you gently taught me through a precious angel of yours and you just want my attention back. I am here Lord. I desire to hear you Father. I will follow your agenda each day, not my own. You always give back precious time for the things we desire and love to do if only we will obey and follow your plan FIRST. Firstfruits Lord, you just want our best first and we must trust that you will give us back the time we so desire. And even if you don’t , Your plan is perfect and mysterious!

    • Sara Walker April 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

      Beautifully said, Jill. Beautiful. I love you, dear one. I love your hungry, seeking heart. You inspire me and challenge me. Don’t stop. Keep pushing me to higher heights of passion for Jesus and deeper depths of worship to Him.

  2. Mandy April 25, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Oh sweet Sara! You have touched my heart yet again. This post really hit home for me as I am a big time planner and love my to do list. Thanks for doing the hard work and summing it up oh so nicely. I have really tried focusing on this new list and shared it in both my ladies bible class and with my small group. I’m also going to try and really let the Spirit work within me and listen for those moments when I should let God direct me. I often struggle with being a working mom (meaning I work outside the home as well) and I feel like my time is so short to get anything out of the ordinary done. I often have good intentions but find myself falling short. Anyway, thanks for helping to redirect my focus and for helping me get my priorities in check.

    I think of you often and try to pray for you everyday! I love your blog and your sweet, sweet spirit. May God bless you in amazing ways, sweet Sara!

    Warmly,
    Mandy

    • Sara Walker April 26, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

      Know that the work you do is an act of worship to God also, my friend. I hope to write more on this later. But I hope that you and I both can learn to discern His priorities and long to accomplish them more than our own. That is such a challenge. But it is a worthy goal, for us both.

  3. Sarah S. April 24, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    Sara,

    Thank you for posting your new to do list. I am printing it off, hope you don’t mind. 🙂 Thank you also for adding verses to this. I am looking forward to truly studying these verses and putting them to use in my life. Again, thank you for a being a blessing.

    Because of Him,
    Sarah

  4. Laura Lasher April 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I, too, am a huge to-do list girl. My desk at the office used to be covered in post-its with all different lists. I still have my to-do list for my house work – just can’t let that habit die:) I love how you have embraced it with your Spirit eyes. I have copied it down and will post it up. I want to make a “blessings board” and just write blessings everyday. My sister always tells me I’m training little warriors, as I’ve chosen to stay home with the girls. I love the Deuteronomy verses. They have always stuck with me from teen to now as a goal for raising children.

    I also love how you have kept your schedule open for God’s divine interactions with others. I was first annoyed at how plans always got bumped or ruined b/c of sick kids or temper tantrums or potty training, etc. But I am starting to love just not having plans and truly enjoying the people I do happen to run into or those from church that we can visit b/c they are home and not on a tight schedule due to illness or new babies or aging factors. God has given you such a gift and forum to eliquently voice your revelations about a true personal relationship with him. I am so thankful for this. I always pray that the Lord equips me to somehow help teach my children to truly develop a relationship with him.

    Oh, I also wanted to share that the day of your last scan, Jeff, the girls, and I sat down to eat dinner. I still hadn’t heard any news from your scan, so I was assuming it wasn’t good. Right before we began dinner, Jeff remarked, “Look girls! There’s the biggest robin I’ve ever seen on our fence. She must be pregnant!” I immediately said I had to run check and see if there was any news from you. The pregnant robin was just speaking to me, “Sara, Sara.” I hated reading bad news, but I loved reading that your female producing agents were spared! I just felt like that huge robin was speaking the same thing you were writing.

    We pray for you continuously. I do not understand the pain you are physically in, but I know you are about your Father’s business. I love you!!

  5. Michael April 21, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I love the last 2 posts, Sara. My way of trying to start the day with the right mindset is to pray for the 20 minutes it takes me to get to work in the morning. The prayer that keeps coming back to me comes from a song that I heard about a year ago. The basic message is this: “Lord, give me the heart and the mind of Christ. Let me see people the way that He did.”

    When I think about the Holy Spirit working in our lives, I certainly agree with you that we need to let the Spirit lead us as we respond to “interruptions.” I know that too often, I complete my to-do list as a way of gaining some personal sense of satisfaction/accomplishment. Then I miss out on opportunities to make an impact for the kingdom, or even to simply brighten someone else’s day.

    But I also think of the 1st century church and how they responded to Peter’s stirring message at Pentecost. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and then the tangible result was that they began selling their possessions and meeting each other’s needs. So they just replaced their own personal to-do items with a to-do list full of acts of service. In a similar way, I think that we can make that type of Spirit work our new set of “to-do’s.” For example, with each grocery trip we could spend an extra ____$ on canned goods to drop off at the food bank, or we could have a regular Tuesday routine of serving at the local soup kitchen, or any other type of routine that is aimed at meeting needs in tangible, practical ways. That way, we are planning and scheduling and altogether to-do-ing with the intent of Spirit work consuming our days.

    Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think.

  6. Kristen April 21, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Love this, have copied it down – thank you for so freely sharing the wisdom God is just pouring into your heart.
    This is an aside, but we’re out in San Francisco, away from what feels like our more sheltered little Indiana town, and it seems everywhere I look, I’m bombarded with the absence of Christ in people’s lives. The sadness of it, that all these people begging on the street or behaving foul -ly (is that a word?) are His creation but so clearly have a veil in front of their hearts, keeping them from what would set them FREE. I may add to my personal new to-do list something along the lines of being a fisher of men – seeking to continually be working out a tangible way to actively share God with others.
    I hope you realize the power of your witness, Sara….even today, you are claiming and owning the VICTORY we have in Christ – in the face of extremely challenging circumstances. What a powerful picture this is! You are obviously choosing to let Christ REIGN in your heart, at a time when it would be SO easy to question and get off track, and your freedom in this mess is palpable. What a witness! That’s just been on my heart to tell you. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again…how pleased He must be with you!
    Thank you also for sharing your specific prayer needs…I’ve been including everything you listed in my prayers for you, and I hope you have been experiencing relief. Remember, we are committed to interceding on your behalf until you are completely healed, and you and your family are daily COVERED in prayer.
    Love you!
    Kristen

  7. CAROL April 20, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I love your phrase “train the warriors!” Yes, it is so important to train them to be “courageous men who fight on the Lord’s side at all times while they pass through this life as strangers and aliens.” I think you’re doing a great job, but maybe I’m just a little biased 🙂 Love you, “to the moon and back…..,” sweetheart! (Will is sitting in my lap as I type and he thinks my typing is so funny. He keeps trying to make his fingers do the same 🙂

  8. Raeann April 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    I am always in awe of what God is doing in your life. He is using you in a way to touch people that I’m sure they never thought was possible. Thank you for sharing this Christ centered to do list. I have typed it out(full verses) and starting tomorrow I am going to use it and build to it as I go along. You are such an inspiration. I would have loved to been at the run this past weekend to meet you. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs with us. I think too many times non believers
    believe “us” Christians have it so easy. God never said it was going to be easy, but we learn through these times: strength and courage. Thank you again your sister in Christ!!

  9. Judy M April 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Sara, I have one item to add to your wonderful list. It is on my mental list each day, but I love making a written list !! Maybe I will make one on a big dry erase board that I can see each day. In Sarah Young’s daily devotional “Jesus Calling”, she says we need to be still and quiet in His presence so we can hear what our Lord is telling us. So, on my mental list I have a reminder to take time to be still and quiet in His presence, so if and when He speaks to me I can listen!! Blessings to you!!

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