Life Lists

In the flurry of activity that surrounds the preparations needed to conduct a conference in a foreign land, I often find myself knee deep in things to do that still haven’t been done. I don’t function well unless I have a list…a very long and detailed “to do” list.

Developing a list enables me to literally see what I’ve accomplished and what still needs to be done. I’m able to tag each item with a note to remind myself of what has and what has not been completed on my way to that particular finish line. Without a list, the details can slip through the cracks. The “must do’s” remain undone and chaos ensues.
Here in the States, where everything seems to be so easily accessible, it’s no big deal if I’m unable to check off one of my essential tasks. Walmart eagerly awaits my frantic visits in the middle of the night…but it’s not quite as easy on the mission field. So I need my list…and I need it to be very detailed. I can’t just write down “store” and expect my wandering mind to remember everything I need to get while I’m there. Details, my list needs to have details.
Now, this may be no surprise to many of you organized, goal setting junkies out there but it finally occurred to me that my to do’s in life would be better served if I would make a list…a detailed list of those things I want to accomplish in life; the specifics of God’s call on my life and the necessary steps needed to get from point “a” to point “b.”
Many people never achieve their God-given, God sized dreams because the goal seems unattainable. Like climbing a mountain…they can see the top, but it’s so far away. They know where they want to go, they’re just not sure of the steps they need to take in order to get there. They need to map out a step by step plan to reach the peak. Without it, fear and doubt become their excuse for a status quo life and their hearts are filled with frustration from what should have and could have been. Their dreams fade into regrets. I don’t want to live like that. Do you?
Some may call me a dreamer (yes, that could be a song), because I tend to vision big. Since I serve a big God, why wouldn’t I…why wouldn’t you? Without Him, we can do nothing. With Him, there’s nothing we can’t do. But I believe those big visions are only achieved one step at a time, and so I’m making my Life List and checking it twice.
Not only will it enable me to see what I have and have not accomplished, it will also open my eyes to how God’s hand is leading me each step of my journey. I can look at my newfound Life List and determine whether I’m actually heading in the right direction. Is my next move the right one needed on my way to my ultimate goal or am I taking a lot of unnecessary steps? Have I prayerfully ordered my steps?
So, how do I start? For me…I need to formulate my Life List the same way I do my list for the Pastors’ Conference or a mission trip. Big things first. Then list the details I need to accomplish on the way to completing the task.
Here’s an example:
1. Have my book published
a. Pray
b. Learn the craft of writing (Pray)
1. Read several books (list them) (Pray)
2. Become part of a writers’ group (Pray)
c. Research and study for content (Pray)
d. Write the book (Pray)
e. Self-edit the book (Pray)
f. Have book edited by others (Pray)
g. Research literary agents and publishers (Pray)
h. Write query letters and proposals based on publisher’s guidelines (Pray)
i. Send query letters and proposals to agents and publishers (Pray)
j. Send accepted manuscript(Pray)
k. Wait and begin work on next book (Pray)
l. Smile when your book hits the shelf and thank God (Pray)
m. Did I mention pray?
Now, I know this list isn’t comprehensive and in real life it would have many sublists under each sublist. But you get the idea. It’s also important to remember that the journey to fulfilling a dream is rarely a short one. None of these steps are accomplished without time and hard work but the view from the top of your mountain will be well worth every painstaking step.
Oh, by the way…my book…by the grace of God it was picked up by AMG Publishers and is coming out next year. A little like giving birth to a child, after carrying it for so long, I can’t wait to see that baby (Ecclesiastes: Understanding What Matters Most) on the bookshelf and ready to encourage others to consistently live with eternity in view.
I realize I’m not a organization guru and I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I’m much more likely to go for what may seem unattainable when I prayerfully plot out a plan knowing God is in charge of every step I take. Each check mark puts me one step closer to reaching the top of that ginormous, God-given mountain where I will be able to say, “By the grace of God, I did it.”

For those of you who are nuts about lists and goals, I welcome your advice for this blog and for my journey, so please chime in and offer your suggestions and opinions to developing the ultimate Life List.


  1. Wow, that's terrific! I didn't know you had a book coming out. That's really exciting. Do you know the month in 2010 that it will be released? I'd love to know more. 🙂


  2. Hi Debra,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. My book is due out in the Fall of next year. I think it's projected for August. Ecclesiastes: Understanding What Matters Most is a six week Bible study birthed from my struggle to find clarity in the details of God's call to the mission field.

    During those days of uncertainty, the Lord led me to Ecclesiastes and used that often avoided book as a heavenly sieve to help me filter the essential from the nonessential in light of eternity. I really didn't know it was going to be a book. I've been speaking for 18 years, so I originally thought it might possibly be something I would speak on, or perhaps even some worksheets that I would use at a conference or retreat.

    But I sensed the Lord leading me to put it together as a book and send it to a publisher. I did; they said “yes” and it is now in the hands of the editors and scheduled to come out in the fall of 2010. The Lord certainly has done exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or think. I desperately pray God will use it in the lives of those who read it to walk through this journey called life with a keen awareness that this life isn't all there is…that we can filter the events of this life through the filter of an eternal perspective and that the wisdom that once belonged to Solomon can be ours as well.

    I'll keep you posted. By the way, I have really enjoyed your blog. I only stumbled onto it this past week, but I love the way your write. It's wonderful how God uses His children to encourage others, even through cyberspace.

  3. What a great post! I AM an organization guru and queen of list making. I make lists of my lists!! 🙂 I never thought of making a life list, though, of things I want to accomplish in life and the steps I need to take along the way. I think I'll have to add making a life list to my list of things to do this week . . .

    Congrats on a book contract!!
    Bethany L. (WriteEditor on Twitter)

  4. Hi Bethany,

    Thanks for popping in. I'm quiet sporadic about my lists, but out of sheer desperation the pastors' conference always gets me back on track. When I get back from the conference, I definitely plan on working on that Life List.

    I've read several stories of those who plotted their course and, although life often interrupted their coveted list, they were more likely to see their goals accomplished and fulfill their calling.

    By the way…I checked out your blog. I love it. I'm a veteran homeschool mom, as well. I loved every minute of it (well, almost every minute of it) 🙂
    Have a very blessed week!
    Eternally His,
    Phil 3:7-14

  5. Congratulations on your book on Ecclesiastes – Understanding what what matters most. That is thrilling and exciting, and I know a lot of work and favor, and PRAYER!!!

    I'm also a list person – both short term and long term. Just recently, I've been organizing a notebook, with not just upcoming goals and plans, but long-term focus points too.

    By the way, our 11 yr old daughter Caela was looking at this post with me, and she thinks it would be so cool to get her picture in that spot. I thought it looked dangerous, but she thought it looked like she would feel like she was on top of the world.

    Blessings to you!
    Ann (& Caela)

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