What kind of list do you have? A “can’t do” or a “to do”?

You know what? You can’t do all the things that are in your day. You can’t. You may be smart, you may be strong, but you simply can’t do them. You can’t do the laundry, keep up with the baby, read to the children, run after the dog, keep the sidewalks shoveled, sort through the game closet and make dinner. You can’t direct your home school. You can’t love your children or your husband. You can’t remember to call your friend or send that birthday card. You can’t do it.

There! It’s out in the open. Do you feel better?? It seems like there is something very freeing about admitting that you simply have too many things on your plate. And really? The truth is you can’t.

You see, the truth really is, you were never intended to do it either. This is part of where I think many of the mommies I know, right now, are getting sold a bill of sales. We’re being told we CAN do it all. The fact is, we can’t. Say it after me….”I can’t do all this.” (Be sure to wave your hand around in that royal “kingdom” type way, as you say that. Definitely make sure that sweeping hand includes the general kitchen direction, the toy room area and FOR SURE the laundry room!)

Now, here’s the exciting part of that confession. Once you poise yourself, understanding that you can’t – and were never intended to – do all this alone, you’re FINALLY in the position to take up the help that the Lord intended you to have. Himself.

Remember the little kid’s song? “Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong.” You’ve known it all along. We, my dear precious one, are weak. Once we stop trying to be strong, we can move over and allow Him to be strong for us, through us. Once we understand that we are limited, we are ready to begin to understand how limitLESS He is.

This has been a battle in my life for years. You see, for the most part, I am a strong woman. Before Christ, if you got in my way, I’d likely run you under. (Nicely…smiling, smiling, of course, but I’d still run right on over you.) The problem was, I could do it all. I could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan…and then wash the pan and put it away and sweep the kitchen and do laundry all at the same time. I COULD do it. Because of that, I was totally unaware of my complete self UN-sufficiency.

This meant that Father had to break me. (NOT the method of adjustment I recommend, by the way. I suggest a pliant heart that He is able to work with, instead.) Now, I’m very much aware of how much I can’t do. I’m very much aware of how much of my day is filled with Him – working through me – and how little of it I am able to perform on my own. (I don’t always remember to operate that way, but I know it.)

Instead of making a “to – do” list, make a “can’t do” list. I am not advocating throwing your hands up in the air and doing nothing. Rather, I’m saying throw your arms open to the enabling that the Lord desires to bring into your life. Write the list of things that you need to get done in your day…take it to Him. “Lord, these are the things I can’t do today. Lord, I need YOU to work in me, that I might accomplish them FOR YOUR GLORY, not for my own.” (Sorry, maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this?? “Whoo hoo, look how much *I* did today.”  🙄   I’m very good at that, even if it’s just quietly in my own heart.) You see, it’s just so horribly vital that we understand that every good thing we accomplish today is grace. His grace, poured out for us.

When you get to the end of the day, if you are walking around assuming that you can do all these things on your own, then what is there to amaze you about the provision of your Lord today? AND if you’re not amazed, what is the point of your worship of Him? In our weakness He is made strong – He is lifted up and made GREAT in our eyes. Are you keeping God small by continuing to believe you can do it all? Please, won’t you join me and change your “to do” list to “I can’t do, but You can do through, me” list? I have no doubt He will delight in amazing you, as much as He does me!

(Sorry, I REALLY intended to wait to hear what issues you needed most to “discuss” but this was so heavily on my heart this morning, as I was praying for y’all, I just had to come and post it. I’ll be quiet now.) 😉

22 Responses to “What kind of list do you have? A “can’t do” or a “to do”?”
  1. winkies6 says:

    *ouch* I just said yesterday how I felt I really didn’t accomplish much at all yesterday. Ok, so maybe I didn’t. Maybe it was the Lord that accomplished everything thru me? 🙂

    #4 has finally found an interest in potty training. “Can I go potty, Mama???!!!” Much panic in his voice. YES! is my reply! LOL It’s funny to me, because #3 had no interest and I really had to push him at almost 4 years old. Praise the Lord!!

  2. javadawn says:

    Ouch?! No, no, no…this is an “Ahhhh” post. It’s one that finally allows you to stop fighting yourself! 🙂

    As for the potty training, now THAT is cause for celebration! Congrats Mom and way to go God! 😀

  3. winkies6 says:

    Yes, yes, ahhhhhhhhhhh. Release. Relax……. 😀

  4. Susan PA says:

    MY problem is that I can never figure out what my priorities are anymore. I used to know!! I would work hard, but I knew what I was pushing at.

    Then the kiddoes got older and were able to do more and more to help…and I got used to doing more other stuff.

    Now those kids are mostly grown and aren’t here a lot (but still LIVE here — except one right now). And my littlers aren’t as capable as having 4 teens was (oddly).

    And…I’ve added a few things (scrapbooking, reading aloud — my husband used to do it if we did at all, whatever… to say nothing of more children!) — and…I DON’T KNOW HOW TO CHOOSE MY PRIORITIES!!!??

    This is my big problem (believe me, my husband would agree. 😉 ).

    Words of wisdom? Susan (mama to 8)

  5. javadawn says:

    I understand! That was part of my meltdown a while ago.

    With adding a new entrepreneurial adventure into the mix, suddenly I was totally lost. T.O.T.A.L.L.Y. That’s when I simply stopped life, got off for a few days and did nothing but hang out in my prayer closet. I made a list of everything that I felt was mine to do – whether it was pleasure or budensome, it went on my list. Then I just started praying through it.

    I know that Terri Maxwell advocates something very much akin to this, but I’m telling you, that MOTH schedule became a HUGE albatross around my neck and that of my kid’s! Jeff was so glad to see that thing leave our household. 🙂

    Praying you can get ahold of what those priorities are to be for this season.

  6. javadawn says:

    Susan, I walked away and the thought “Take a week and list all the stuff in your week, rather than doing it off the top of your head.” I think, because of the age of your kiddos there’s enough in-and-out-ing that there are enough other additions in your regular week, that if you don’t spend a week just writing down all that comes into it, there could be several things that could fly under your radar. Kwim?

  7. Is there a way…do we even have this information clearly laid out in the Word…to come up with some sort of *basic* list of what things we are supposed to be doing? As wives…as moms…as Father’s daughters…

    I’m serious…I often feel so overwhelmed that I can’t even figure out what the bottom line things are. If I knew them, I could figure out what kinda time *those* would take, then figure out the *rest* from there.

    Please, not something as intangible as “love God and enjoy Him forever”, but something that gives me an idea what life should *look* like on a daily basis.

    I know, I know ~ it will look different for everyone ~ and different in seasons…but what are the all-the-time *for every woman* kinds of things? Are there such things?

    Like today, for example…I am bone-tired…weary even…the kids are going stir-crazy…my house has thrown up…taxes are screaming at me…I need to get dinner started…I just don’t know where to start. How can I realistically decide at this moment
    to go nurse my Baby, hide in my prayer closet, and take a nap when I know that things will fall apart much worse if I do?

  8. Margie says:

    I struggle, not only with trying to do it all, but also to do what absolutely MUST be done within a reasonable time. I am about ready to just step back and time myself on all of my tasks. That way I can realize just how much time each task will take. That way I won’t plan (if only in my head) too much.

    I looked at Terri Maxwell’s book and have to agree with you, Dawn. That was just way too much of an albatrose. While I am very skilled at the planning portion, the implementation became slavery.

  9. The last comment from me was an attempt to echo in a way what Susan was saying…

  10. winkies6 says:

    I think we get so used to one way of things that when something else enters the mix, we get all jumbled. Then after a period, we get our ducks back in a row and into a comfortable pace. Of course, that’s usually when something new enters again. 😉

  11. Mrs. Nehemiah says:

    it’s amazing the depth of sin one little blog-post can reveal in my heart. when the “me” says “get that mirror OUT of my face woman” I know it’s something I need to take to Father and say “I’ve been hiding this from myself, fooling myself into thinking I could hide it from You”
    Much as I don’t want to look at this, I’d better go read it again.

    Mrs N

  12. mamashortcake says:


    You’re really killing me this week you know ;). So WHAT do you do instead? I have tried MOTH many times…and I can make it about a week, but then I fall apart and I am really cranky. I don’t know any way else to manage things, but I just can’t keep up. Really laziness/fatigue factor in a lot, but also I think I am taking on too much as well…but I never know what to cut out. I can’t see anything I can cut out. We have no outside activities so it’s not that, I do cook from scratch but with ds#1’s soy allergy I HAVE to…we have to have clean clothes (I do NOT make detergent) and dishes (I have to wash by hand – no dishwasher). Not much else major cleaning gets done on a regular basis, but we are a really “clean” family so the house stay pretty nice – the sinks & toilets are done almost daily (quick wipe down) so that’s not too big of an issue…but folding and ironing and keeping up the budget, and school….AGGHHHH :D. I don’t garden (other than a few herbs in pots that I ignore, I sew only what NEEDS to be done such as mending, I don’t have any hobbies, I am SUPPOSED to exercise to help my…um..muscle weakness issues…sigh…can anybody help me???? Sorry for the long, totally incoherent post today! This is just such a struggle for me. BTW, I have three boys 6,4, and 2 and another baby still “cooking” :). I REALLY hope you are right that 3 is the hardest, or I am gonna be seriously let down!!! 😀

  13. mamashortcake says:

    Okay, and one more thing…my house isn’t cluttered either…I hate clutter and am well known (i.e. I get made fun of) for getting rid of so much that I regret it!!! Will someone please tell me why I can’t get things together??? :D..okay I feel better now after unloading all that….

  14. whimsy says:


    that? oh, it’s just my paradigm shifting.

    also: if you’re going to be quiet, I’m not hanging out here anymore! 🙂

  15. javadawn says:

    OH MY! Ladies, HONESTLY I thought this was going to minister to you, not overwhelm you. I’m on the fly here to minister to my kiddos for the end of the night. I will be back, ok?

    Just know, my desire wasn’t to cause you to shwloop! : )

  16. Susan PA says:

    I think Dawn has the right idea. Not just LIST everything — but PRAY over all of it. (Oh, and “everything” — she’s right — for me, anyway — I just “forget” things. Son #3 is having an honor’s music recital — it’s his MAJOR and it was an honor that he was chosen — I really should go. Do I “count” that as something I’m doing? Nope. It’s something I do, but I don’t count it as part of actual time. Somehow. Actually, that particular concert is past, but the way I just “ignore” some things I’m actually doing — that is constant.)

    I do that to myself ALL the time.

    For sweet Mamashortcake. 3 was the hardest for me, too. Seems odd. I went to 4 and my husband went to working a TON at the same time…so I was home virtually alone a lot — and I still found it easier. Now, he wasn’t a hard baby, so that helped. But if you have a rambunctious toddler — or two — or talkative children — YES, it’s HARD!!!

    Sometime around when my oldest turned 7 or so and my second was 5, they began begging me to tell them what to do. Meanwhile, I was spending an HOUR cleaning up the kitchen after dinner EVERY NIGHT (no matter how I tried to rush). Well, a light dawned, and I had them at least begin to do the breakfast and lunch dishes. That was a good start.

    Right now I have talkative children. And it’s GOOD that they talk to me. But it all takes a lot of TIME that I never figure into my life.

    For me, the indecision is what kills me. I can relate a lot to what Julie said — what is the BOTTOM LINE?? I have seen lists, but I don’t always agree with them. I think that’s where the take it all to pray over ALL of it comes in.

    But what I also need to do is COMMIT to the decisions I made. I keep adding more, and trying to do better. It can be a big trap. As a fellow-mom-of-many I know said, it’s called “upping the ante.” Yep. I do that too.

    Susan (mama to 8 ) (though sometimes I want to hide behind 8) )

  17. Melanie says:

    LOL — sorry, Ladies, I am NOT laughing at you, but myself. So much for cold turkey, Dawn 😉

    I think I could just say “DITTO” to most of these comments.

    I do appreciate Terri Maxwell’s Corners — but I’ve never ordered her books. **I** can make a schedule — and do it almost monthly! 😮 Some of my dc are clued in to the fact that putting “it” on paper doesn’t get “it” DONE.

    I have a new CD playing in the van — and I was out today, so it’s still in my brain somewhat… ONe of the songs is a sweet arrangement of “Jesus, I am Resting.” And I think, Okay, this is what I need to do: rest in Jesus Christ. But singing along in the van is almost like reading a romance novel in the bathtub (baha — it’s been YEARS!) … I have a *little* trouble in the playing out of that idealic peaceful “resting” when two dc are attempting to do separate phonics lessons with me at the same time, another ds is either reading me a math problem he wants help with or reading me something fascinating from World Magazine or a science-ish book or showing me a taekwondo kick [you get the picture??], and the grain mill (my personal AirForceOne) is ready for take-off… and that still leaves 3 other dc to clamor for me, need to be reminded of their duties, or just wish the Littlers could go outside so they could hear themselves think. {{ack! “Calgon!”}}

    Okay, **I** am the one who needs to be quiet…. just couldn’t resist ‘singing’ along with the choir here. How do we attempt to do (and discern the difference) the important and not just the urgent? Time in the Word and prayer.

    My house is quiet — I think it’s time to shut off the computer! g’night.

  18. javadawn says:

    I know I said I’d be back, but Jeff is needing/waiting to talk with me. I’m going to go do that first. (And since it’s after 11, I don’t expect to be back tonight.)

    I WILL come straight away (okay, after I pray and work out) to respond to this…

    Until then, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR YOU ALL TO DO IS GET SOME SLEEP!!! 🙂 Aren’t I just full of amazing wisdom?!

  19. javadawn says:

    Ok, I had intended to be coming to respond to this discussion….BUT…..
    I can not tell you how heavily I feel the weight of giving you a Godly and Biblically sound response to this. It’s not a bad thing….it’s just what I call a “holy burden” on 2 fronts. One, to accurately reflect the heart of Father to y’all. Two, I feel VERY heavily, this morning, the weight of accountability for what I share here at Javadawn. The thought of misleading any of you, of causing you discontentment, of doing anything that would cause strain in your familial relationships (not that THIS answer would do that, I’m just feeling the general weight of it all this morning) or potentially keep you from hearing what the Lord has for your family….well, it quite frankly makes me nauseous. SO, I’m going to head BACK to my prayer closet for a little while and then I’ll be back to answer you. IF you stumble across this while I’m in my prayer closet…ok, so it’s really my prayer chair 🙂 PRAY for me, would ya?? I need it, let me tell you.

    Blessings dear one, B.L.E.S.S.I.N.G.S.!!

  20. winkies6 says:

    I think before we collectively receive a blessing, we first have to recognize what is going on in our households. That is why my first response was “ouch”. I think that YOU had the vision to show us what is going on. After we recognize that… it’s all good! 🙂

  21. Mrs. Nehemiah says:

    I just don’t like to be reminded that I can’t. Now I know I can’t, but I don’t live “I can’t” I would like God to do all things through me, but the verse says I can do all things through Christ Jesus. Somehow I don’t think it’s just a matter of semantics. I say to God, “lay it on me, I can take it” and I must look like my 60lb child struggling and staggering with a 50lb bag of flour (from costco) I have to look at my kiddo and think “hmm, do I let him break his body with this thing, or do I break his ego by taking it from him”
    Father must look at me and think. “how can I let her continue to stagger under her self imposed burdens, she’s gonna break.” so He sends me here, to hear His heart.
    Mrs. N

  22. javadawn says:

    Mrs N, my dear ~

    You are SO wise, the small difference between “I *CAN* do ALL things through Christ Jesus” and “*I* can do ALL things through Christ Jesus” is very hard to differentiate. (At least I think so.) One stands up and demands that we take notice of our own sufficiency, which rather negates the “through Christ Jesus” part. 🙄 The other one is simply a declaration that Through Christ Jesus I CAN do all things that He has placed before me.

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