Crossing it off the list

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

I asked author, friend and fellow Redbud Margaret Philbrick if she would write a post for the Worlds That Changed My World series. I’m so glad she said yes…. Enjoy the read!

I wanted to write about Shakespeare since it’s his 450th birthday today. His 116th sonnet is a classic perspective on love that I teach all my classes, but have his words changed my world? Somewhat, but not enough. The Bible? Yes, but who isn’t going to write about that? Song of Songs 4:10 and 2nd Corinthians 4:17 were both recently given to me by friends and I think they are changing my world, but I’m waiting for God to reveal what they mean to my life. Not enough information yet for a post.

In 1993 at 1:00 a.m., I sat on the edge of the bed bouncing our first infant. He was crying, for the twelfth middle of the night in a row. All swaddled up in his blankies and draw-string p.j.’s, just fed, just changed, just rocked and screaming. I deliriously walked over to close the bedroom window so the neighbors could keep sleeping next door. Then back to the edge of the bed for more of the bouncing and rocking routine. I felt like crying, but instead decided to solve the problem by illustrating for my wide awake husband all the things we had done right and my possible solutions we had not yet tried, like piling into the SUV for a middle of the night run to McDonalds. The car nap was better than no sleep at all.

to do
After a few minutes of trying to talk above the screaming, my husband came over and sat next to me. Bouncing in unison, he put his arm around me and whispered, “Having a baby is not a cross it off the list project.” Then I started crying. I had left my high powered advertising job for this? What was I accomplishing between diaper changes? Folding tiny socks, a stroll through Hoffman Park, cooking dinner and planting pansies between running inside when the baby monitor was coding red. Not exactly glamorous Kellogg’s Special K cereal shoots with Christie Turlington in L.A.

His words crept into the empty nooks of my soul to reorient my perspective. I began to get free. Having a baby and the opportunity to be at home and take care of him brought the privilege of new found freedom. I didn’t need to make the list anymore. We could do whatever we wanted; Arlington Racetrack, baby in a backpack to bet on the horses, the horse farm down on Naperville road for morning turn out, picnic lunches on a back yard blanket. One of my favorite memories from twenty years ago was our springtime stroll over to the college. He was three months old, still lying flat in the stroller and I would place him beneath the bell tower and blooming pink magnolia tree cornered by the sound of “All Creatures of our God and King” on the carillon. He would look up at the petals and kick out his legs and arms, screeching with delight at the sight and sound of wonder. This is the kind of thing Mary must have pondered in her heart, watching Jesus interact with HIS world.

Twelve words, spoken by a sleep deprived husband, are etched in my soul. They’ve kept me from becoming controlled by the list. Leaving the door open to spontaneity, I can take in the world by seasons, enacting senses in the moment. This spring, stand under a blooming magnolia and look up. View the blue crevasses between the rosy cups and sniff. Be enveloped. We all have just one day at a time. Try to see it all, without the list.


Philbrick-5Margaret Philbrick is an author, gardener and teacher who desires to plant seeds in hearts. Margaret is a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, (Lit. major) and has a Masters in Teaching from National Louis University. She teaches writing and literature to children at The Greenhouse School and Home School University. She is actively involved in the fulfillment of God’s vision at Church of the Resurrection and the Redbud Writers Guild  where she serves on the board of both organizations. She helps empower the silenced feminine voice by mentoring women writers in Afghanistan via the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Back to the Manger, her first book is a holiday gift book she created with her mother, an oil painter. Her first novel, A Minor – A Novel of Love, Music and Memory releases June 1st, 2014. You can find Margaret in her garden digging in the dirt or writing poetry and you can connect with her on-line via her website at

Leave a Reply:

3 thoughts on “Crossing it off the list”

  1. Love it! I had the same crisis leaving high tech marketing when I had my first child 11 years ago. It took me the entire first year of her life to realize I had gone from a life oriented around productivity to a life oriented around presence. It took me another 5 years to figure out God wanted my entire life to make the same shift — from doing to being, from producing to people. I’m a bit like an addict and keep going back to the same dry well, but slowly I’m learning to spend longer stretches of time as a human being, not a human to-do list. Well put Margaret! I love your writing!

  2. Karen d,
    Yes! I love the way you worded it for your own life…”productivity to presence.” Good for you to even be able to put words to that difficult reality. Blessings!

  3. This is great! I also am a to do list person. I need to apply this same thought not just to my daughter but also to my husband. He also isn’t just someone to cross things off to do lists. I need these reminders every day. 🙂

Comments are closed.

Recent Posts

Friend Bronwyn on Facebook Add Bronwyn on G+ Follow Bronwyn on Pinterest Image Map

Never miss a post!

Enter your email below to stay up to date with new blog posts and my monthly newsletter.

Bronwyn Lea

©Copyright 2019

Photo credit: Christa Norman, Mel Draper Photography, and Jonathan Summer