• Make a “Not To Do” List While Sheltering in Place

    Most of us have tossed out our To Do lists by now. We either got it all done in the first week, or we realized it was more important to spend time with family than to check things off the to-do list. I’ve done a little bit of both. Right now, I am reminding myself what I need NOT TO DO.

    I first heard the idea in a Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast—the idea of making a Not To Do List. Groeschel suggests that leaders “ruthlessly eliminate all time-wasting, non-productive, life-taking, soul-draining distractions,” in order to be more productive in their daily routines. I love this idea so much. Time is so valuable. But right now, in this time of sheltering in place, I need to apply the same principle in a different way.

    During this time of sheltering-in-place, we may not need to be productive as much as we need to be at peace. As I thought about the idea of what not to do while sheltering in place, here is the list I came up with.

    Instead of wording it DO NOT, which makes a rebel like me want to do the very thing I’m told not to do, I prefer the wording to be more of a declaration: “I won’t . . .”


    I won’t fall back into my old bad habits. 

    I won’t get irritated with people—especially the people I love most. 

    I won’t complain, argue, grumble, gossip, or whine.

    I won’t allow worry to dominate my mind and my mood.

    I won’t waste time in unhealthy ways. 

    I won’t stay indoors all day long.

    I won’t be mean to myself or my family.

    I won’t eat unhealthy food or more food than my body needs. 

    I won’t spend money on things I don’t need. 

    I won’t use my phone while I’m inside the house.

    Here is the heart behind each declaration, with a Bible verse for encouragement.

    NUMBER ONE: I won’t fall back into my old bad habits because I must stay as healthy as possible right now. My old bad habits include staying up late, picking at my face in the mirror before bed, and using q-tips too harshly in my ears, which recently got me in trouble with an ear and face infection, which resulted in three ER visits. I cannot afford that risk of getting sick again, especially right now.

    “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

    1 Corinthians 10:12-13

    NUMBER TWO: I won’t get irritated with people—especially the people I love most—because I want the truest expression of my love to pour out of me so they have no question in their minds about how much I love them. I want to show them how much I delight in them.When I am irritated with the people I love, they are not seeing my true heart for them. They might even think I hate them, which is the opposite of the truth.

    “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

    Ephesians 4:2-3

    NUMBER THREE: I won’t complain, argue, grumble, gossip, or whine because each of these reveal the meditations of the heart, and each of these can drag others down. Nothing good can come from any of the actions on this list.

    “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’”

    Philippians 2:14-15

    NUMBER FOUR: I won’t allow worry to dominate my mind and my mood because stress will make me sick. I need to do everything I can to be healthy and at peace right now, so stress is not an option. I’m also very aware that the kids can sense our worry. If we are stressed, the kids can get stressed. Then their bodies will not be as healthy.

    “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” 

    Matthew 6:27

    NUMBER FIVE: I won’t waste time in unhealthy ways because this time with my children and my husband is a gift. Getting creative with how to use our time together is a chance to play again! Instead of wasting time on my phone, I can bake a cake or read out loud or ride my bike! I can play handball or play catch or throw a frisbee with my kids. I can learn from my own children. I can remember how to enjoy playing with them.

    “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

    Matthew 11:25

    NUMBER SIX: I won’t stay indoors all day long because I need sunshine in order to stay happy and healthy. Just because we are sheltering in place does not mean we have to stay inside. I can sit outside in the sun and breathe the fresh air. I can stay active outdoors, which will help my mood—and keep me healthy physically and mentally.

    “The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

    Psalm 121:7-8

    NUMBER SEVEN: I won’t be mean to myself or my family because I want to be filled with kindness and love. It’s a big temptation to be very controlling right now. But God has shown me that true love is not controlling but it gives freedom and trust. How do we find the balance between control and trust in this time when we are trying to follow all the rules but the rules are changing every day? How can I be kind and loving at all times? It’s so difficult.

    “Again, Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.’”

    Mark 7:14-15

    NUMBER EIGHT: I won’t eat unhealthy food or more food than my body needs right now because, again, I need to stay healthy  and strong, which means I need lots of veggies and fruits. I will make sure I make smoothies for my family every day that have spinach leaves, ginger, and lots of fruit that has vitamin C. I will make sure I have slices of apples, oranges, pears, and bananas available throughout the day for all of my snacky kids. I will make sure we are drinking water and green tea all day long.

    “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”

    2 Timothy 1:7

    NUMBER NINE: I won’t spend money on things I don’t need because I don’t think the lesson God wants to teach me right now is a lesson in hoarding. I believe God wants me to learn essentialism right now. What is essential? This question makes me seek God, and that is a blessing.

    “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

    Luke 12:15

    “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

    Luke 12:20-21

    NUMBER TEN: I won’t use my phone while I’m inside the house because my kids copy what I do. Even if I feel like I’m learning something from a news article or being productive by answering emails on my phone, my kids don’t know that. They just see me zoning out, and then they want to do what I do. But I want them to learn to value interacting with family, not a screen. Sure, we can have some screen time as a family in the evening, like watching movies together or playing a game together. But I want my own phone time to be something I do when I’m not on mommy duty.

    “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

    Proverbs 22:6

    The truth is that I do want to zone out on my phone right now, as a way to cope with the ever-lurking, ominous unknown. However, I found that if I limit my phone zone to the outdoors, then I have an easier time remembering to put it down when I’m indoors.

    Well, that is quite a list, but it includes just about everything that has been on my heart this week. 

    Prayer for Peace

    Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me for allowing worry to dictate my mindset and my actions. Please forgive me for being mean when I feel stressed. Please forgive me for turning to other things besides you for my comfort and peace. Please forgive me for asking for answers from other people instead of asking you first. Thank you for your promise to bring peace. Help me to trust you, remembering all that you have done in my life. I love you so much! Thank you for your steadfast love, dear Lord Jesus. Amen.

    Stay strong, loving, and peaceful!

    Love and hugs, 



    You know how people who survived traumatic experiences as a child may still have triggers and need reminders of God’s love and faithfulness? I want to help people who have been through childhood trauma find peace and hope as adults by sharing my own stories of how God saved my life.

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