Tag Archive | to-do list

Seven To-Dos to Prepare for a Special Guest

d5737d0fe761a791f9bacaf1a5bbed26In one of my devotional readings this morning, the writer asked, “What would you do if you knew Jesus would be dropping in for a visit in five minutes?” There’s not a lot anyone can do in five minutes, so I decided to think about the question a little differently. “What would I do if I knew Jesus was coming to visit me tomorrow?” The idea isn’t so far-fetched. After all, Jesus dropped in on Mary and Martha when he was traveling in their area.

I asked Mim the question after breakfast. Her first response was, “I guess I’d pick up the papers laying around the house.” Then she added, “and I’d be sure we had something to serve with coffee.” I suggested to her, “Maybe you’d bake a rhubarb coffeecake with the fresh rhubarb in the refrigerator.” She replied, “Yeah, either that or almond brownies – whichever would be quicker.”

That got me started on my own list of what I’d do today if I knew Jesus was coming for a visit tomorrow. After 45 years of living together, Mim and I think a lot alike. Our first and second items were nearly identical.

  1. Clean up the house as much as I can (with Mim’s help) in a couple hours. On the house decorating continuum from casual/cluttered to formal/minimalist, our home is pretty far on the left. While Mim is picking up papers, I’d pick up the dog toys scattered throughout the living room and the music lying all around the piano. Then Mim would vacuum the carpeting and I’d dust the tops of the furniture.
  2. Be sure we had everything needed to fix a nice dinner for Jesus. I’d probably make a quick trip to Ken’s Meat Market to get some burgundy pepper steaks to grill out on the deck, and maybe stop at MetroMarket for some fresh vegetables.
  3. Spend some time at my desk making a list of the most important things I want to talk with Jesus about – from Trump’s crazy behavior, to Hawaii’s volcano, to what’s going on with the jail ministry, to my sister-in-law’s health, to everything else on my mind… Once I completed the list, I’d probably have to prioritize it because it may be much too long to cover in one day.
  4. Spend a couple hours cleaning up my latest writing project (Talking with God Through Music) so that Jesus and I could talk about my progress and how I could improve the book.
  5. Make a list of people to invite to join Jesus, Mim, and me for this special visit. I’d want to keep the list small enough so that we could really talk together, but I think I should be willing to share this wonderful moment with a few friends and family members. This will probably be the hardest item on the list for me to do.
  6. Google “Mary and Martha.” I’d want to know everything I could about Jesus’ visits with Mary and Martha to learn from their example how to offer Jesus the best hospitality possible on earth, while at the same time taking advantage of this extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and understanding from Jesus himself.
  7. Finish all my preparations in time to sit down at the piano and play some hymns to center my mind on this amazing opportunity to spend time together with Jesus. Hopefully, Mim would join me and sing praises to God. Maybe, we’d still be singing when Jesus walked in the door, and he would join us.

I guess seven to-dos is as much as I could get done in one day of prep for a visit with Jesus.

What would be on your list?

I can’t put it off any longer

File DrawerIt’s time. I added it to my to-do list on January 1, 2014. It’s well past time to pull out the 13 bulging folders from the file drawer, the folders labeled “January 2013” through “December 2013” and “Misc. Tax Info.”

I haven’t clicked on the QuickBooks icon on my desktop since last February, when I finished “doing the accounting” for 2012. For me, “doing the accounting” really means entering receipts and expenses for our businesses into the computer and printing out a few reports to give to a real accountant who will prepare our financial statements and our taxes.

Organizing and entering a year’s worth of transactions usually takes me about a week of 10 to 12-hour workdays. Every year I think about changing my pattern and “doing the accounting” on a monthly basis, but I’ve stuck to the same annual pattern for 15 years, so I doubt that I’ll ever change. My week for “doing accounting” early in the new year always becomes my least favorite week of the year, but I survive it. I guess this practice is part of my disguise – so no one will ever guess that I have an MBA from one of the most prestigious business schools in the country, the University of Chicago. My guess is they would not like to claim me as one of their own.

Anyway, I can’t put it off any longer…

Elsie at PresHouse

Mom working at Presbyterian Student Center at UW Madison

I think I learned something about procrastination from my mom. She was always very organized, and she got everything done that needed to be done by the time it needed to be done. But I remember once she told me that she always ironed my dad’s shirts last. Back in those days, housewives ironed almost everything, from sheets and pillow cases to shirts and pants, even handkerchiefs. My mom had a full-time job as a financial secretary for the Presbyterian Student Center in Madison in addition to being a farmer’s wife and raising three kids, but she still ironed everything – until she could teach me to take over that job. One day she told me about how she ironed clothes. She hated to iron my dad’s Sunday shirt the most of all, so she ironed it last – just in case the end of the world would come before she got to it.

Pablo Picasso thought a lot like my mom. He is quoted in www.goodreads.com as saying, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

That sounds like a good case for procrastination to me! If I die before I get the accounting done, that’s fine with me. However, I’m sure Mim wouldn’t like it.

Mark Twain shared his words of wisdom on procrastination, too. He said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” I guess that’s my justification for doing accounting once a year instead of once a month.

Well, I guess it’s now “the day after tomorrow for me.” I really need to click on the QuickBooks icon.

Something that helps me focus on getting something done that I really hate to do, like accounting, is promising myself a reward when I complete the task. I’ve already ordered my reward from Amazon.com. Since my special word for 2014 is JOY, I’ve ordered the book CHASING JOY: MUSINGS ON LIFE IN A BITTERSWEET WORLD by Edward Hays. The book should arrive today or tomorrow, but I won’t let myself start reading it until the accounting is done.

I’d better get busy.

Chasing Joy

A Time to Change Plans

Yesterday afternoon I wrote a blurb for the back cover of my new book on hospitality, COME, LORD JESUS, BE OUR GUEST. I plan to submit my edited manuscript along with cover suggestions to my publisher, Inspiring Voices (a division of GUIDEPOSTS) this afternoon. I’m pretty excited. This is the book I’ve been working on for more than three years. Here’s what I drafted for the back cover:

“Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.” And he came – as a homeless man, a stranger, a friend.

Marian Korth and her partner Mim Jacobson have served breakfast to thousands of overnight guests in their home, but they didn’t bother to offer a cup of coffee to a homeless man huddling on their doorstep one cold winter morning. Why didn’t they welcome this “Jesus” into their home?

Marian still has more to learn about hospitality, although she’s had more than 60 years of adventures in hospitality already. She can tell stories about being hospitable (or not) from:

    • Growing up on a farm
    • Living in Chicago
    • Turning their home into a bed and breakfast
    • Caring for people in their home as they are dying
    • Running their home as a spiritual retreat center

Kindness is the common thread that runs through all these adventures in hospitality. The first verse Marian memorized as a child was Ephesians 4:32, “Be ye kind, one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (She memorized it and still thinks about it in the King James Version.)

In these stories, Marian reflects on what God is telling her about living a life of hospitality. She thinks it’s pretty exciting to know that God has told us, “Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” (Hebrews 13:2 The Message)

I’ll let you know when the book is available. I expect to hold it in my hands by summer, maybe earlier.

My first book, LISTENING FOR GOD: 52 REFLECTIONS ON EVERYDAY LIFE, is already available. The back cover blurb for that book begins,

Discover how God talks to us through everyday happenings.

    • One day, God tells us to hold our to-do lists lightly. There are more important things for today.
    • Another day, God’s message is to think a little harder about how we spend our money.
    • Some days, God just says to relax and enjoy the beauty of the earth…

The first bullet point on this cover certainly fits today’s to-do list for me. I had planned to write about a conversation I had with my dog, Abbey, for this morning’s blog post. I was going to talk about sometimes being too busy to take long walks, and the wisdom (or lack thereof) in that. Instead I spent time talking with my nephew about why people commit suicide. A friend of his killed himself yesterday.

On Mim’s recommendation, I’ve ordered a couple copies of the book, ANDREW, YOU DIED TOO SOON, by Corinne Chilstrom – one for my nephew and one for me. Mim says it’s an excellent book on suicide. Chilstrom is a Lutheran pastor and nurse whose son committed suicide.

Today’s revised to-do list makes time for listening. Maybe next week, I’ll have time to share the conversation between Abbey and me about being too busy… I might even offer my own paraphrase of Hebrews 13:2 – “Be ready with a meal or a bed or a listening ear when it’s needed…”

Abbey-Marian

Note:  If you want more information about either of my books, check out my author website, www.MarianKorth.com.