Letting go of “The List”

I looked in the mirror and I began to cry as saw the missing teeth in my mouth.  I could feel my front tooth was loose and I was destroyed at the fact that two other teeth had already fallen out.   I tried to put the teeth back into the empty holes in my mouth, but they wouldn’t stay.  I looked into the mirror and just cried.  I felt out of control.

Thank goodness it was only a dream.  It’s a dream I frequently have when I am feeling stressed.

Stress is a funny thing.  Stress comes into life when we care too much about things we can’t control.  It creeps in when we can’t seem to get a grip on the endless amount of demands that require our time.

Like most people, I have a lot of things going on.  I work full-time (I love my job with Compassion), I have endless household chores, I volunteer for things, I help my daughter run her non-profit, Shoesforkids.  It all takes time, and I constantly have to prioritize my time while remembering that God gives us enough time to do the things He wants us to do in life. Surely God gives us time to breath the air, smell the flowers, swim in the river and take a day off.

This last weekend, my husband headed out of town for another event for work, so the girls and I packed it up on Thursday evening, threw my mom into the car (we didn’t really throw her), and we drove the 7 hours it takes to get to my sister’s home in the middle of nowhere Oregon.  When I drove away from home, I had a long list of chores I was leaving behind…and it was hard for me.

As we drove the last 27 miles down into Hell’s Canyon, my cell phone no longer worked.  No phone, no Internet, no emails, no way to continue the work.  I resisted the peace and I felt anxious at loosing contact with the world…but the peace and quiet gently wooed me in.

Tucked away between the hills, next to Big Sheep Creek, my sister and brother-in-law live off grid with their zoo of animals, their garden and a lifestyle opposite to the suburbs.  Ken’s artwork (my brother-in-law), his livelihood, is displayed in every corner.

The constant sound of the creek, echoing off the hills, invites my children to play. In the evening, my sister brings out the horses and the new colt whimsically dances around his mother playing with whatever object is on the ground.  The sun sets over the mountain leaving a glow on the hillside capturing the golden colors of the grassy hills above.  The emails of Friday are forgotten and all I see is beauty.  At night, I can hear the coyote’s sing and the sound of owls and crickets, and the moon lights up the once golden hillside changing the landscape into deep purples.  Julia and I sit on the porch and we talk about life, we talk about God.  We speak of the wonders of our Creator and we marvel at the beauty of creation.  “How can one not believe in the Creator?”  I ask her.

She agrees and we enjoy being together as we have an intense spiritual conversation.

My long list of chores, emails and “to do” list wait in silence…until Monday.

Even our dog let go of “the list” and enjoyed the beauty.

Now that Monday is here, it’s all ok.  I often can get overwhelmed at the long list of things to do in this life to the point that I spend more energy worried about the list than it’s worth.  Somehow, the list always gets done, but if I am not careful, stress becomes an idol in my life taking my focus away from that which is most important, that which brings me life; my Creator and my Savior.  And stress distracts me from the gifts and those things that are beautiful that lead me to worship the Almighty.

As far as the list…it’s always there, so I just need to take it one day at a time and stop worrying about tomorrow.  Sometimes you just have to step away from “the list” to remember what is truly important.

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5 Comments on “Letting go of “The List”

  1. Beautiful pictures.

    I had a very similar experience this past weekend. After starting back to school (we homeschool) I had a mile long list of things I needed to do. So we packed everyone up and drove to central Oregon for 3 days of camping. No water, no bathrooms – just the 4 of us (and lots of dirt!) When I came back, I felt ready to tackle another week.

    We are heading to Hells Canyon at the end of this month for a 5 day camping trip with some folks from our church. I’ve never been there and am excited to see it.

  2. Thanks Patricia! My “TO DO” list this week seems so overwhelming! One day at a time…. I appreciate your heart! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Was that in eastern Oregon? I live in the Portland rural area in Yamhill county.
    I was born in eastern Oregon.
    Looks like the trip was a wonderful success. So glad you and your sister renewed some time together that is so important. Take the time, for we all know time is short.

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