To do list

These days it’s all about the ‘To Do’ list. Tick, tick, tick. I roll into bed tired when everything’s done. Teaching full time is busy. Insanely busy and when you get home at the end of the day it starts again. Gym, dinner, wash-up, fold, iron, sit and fall asleep. I’m getting things done. I am organised and I laugh over lunch with a colleague that we indeed are domestic goddesses.

I’ve always loved the feeling of making lists, drawing lines through the completed things or ticking the little circles I’ve drawn in the column in the left hand side of the page. Anything incomplete gets carried over to the next page and a diagonal line is struck through today. I love that feeling when something is over, goals have been achieved and I’m ready for the next thing – the new day.

Yet some things just never seem to carry over or be complete after a bone marrow transplant. People say “Isn’t it marvellous, you are back at work.” Isn’t it wonderful that your daughter is so well.” I smile and swallow so my tears don’t leak through. “Yes, we’ve come along way.” Occasionally I even convince myself that its over but when the doctor calls in the middle of the day I know its bad news.

We’ve been trying to reduce the immunosuppressant drugs but this weeks blood tests reveal that Sam’s liver isn’t coping with the withdrawals and suddenly all the drugs are multiplied again. Five times the dose of one drug, double the dose of another and then another drug is added to the mix, bringing her daily total drug intake to 19 tablets. It’s a backwards step and it’s frightening and a hundred questions fill my mind.

I wait on the Lord early in the morning. I am heavy of heart, the heat from the tears that have not yet escaped, warm the bags that have developed under my tired eyes. I can feel the thud of disappointment pounding in the cavity of my ribcage. “When will this be over?” I ask, wondering for a moment if He hears me at all.

“My mercies are new every morning.” He replies. “My grace is sufficient for you.” He adds. “Be still and know that I am God.” He hovers in front of me and I place it in His hands. “I just want to tick boxes.” I tell Him. I want this pain to pass. I want this to be over, for her to be well, is it too much to ask?

I feel Him,

He is present,

He hears,

He listens,

He waits.

He’s giving me space to process,

He’s sitting on the other settee.

He’s waiting for me to catch His thoughts

He’s teaching me how to just be.

But I want to do something.

I want to change the world.

I want to live out the dreams

I’ve had since I was a girl.

There isn’t time.

The alarm rings,

The shower runs,

I dress,

I dash for coffee.

I drive to school just thinking it all through.

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know when she will be better.

I don’t know. I don’t know.

Once at school I discover it is my turn to run the staff devotions. I am all tears and vulnerability. I share with the others what God’s been telling me all morning. He hasn’t called us to ‘do’; he has just called us to be. ‘To be still and know that He is God.’

Later that day I’m teaching my Kindergarten children about sentences. They have sight words to learn: I, am, a, is, the. We are trying to help them put these words in a sentence but most of them have no idea. “What is a sentence?” I ask and they look at me with fear in their eyes. As if to say “please don’t ask me.” So I try to get them started “I am a” I write on the board. Can anyone finish it?

Then one little guy decides to have a go. “I am a person,” he says and I celebrate his brilliance. The truth is I had expected a different answer. I was looking for “I am a boy, “ or “I am a girl.” I don’t know why I was expecting that, I just was. So I tried to dig for that answer. “What kind of person are you?” I pressed and hands went up all over the room. “I’ll tell you what he is,” one child volunteered. “He’s a skinny person.” I had to try not to laugh. It was delightful. I could feel tears welling up inside me with sheer joy. Then at the back of the room another child said, “I am a human being.”

It was like God himself sat in my room, in a tiny chair at a tiny table. For the briefest moment I knew the sheer delight of living. “That’s what you are,” I heard God whisper over my shoulder. “You are a human being not a human doing.” At the end of the day, when all the “To Do’s” in my daybook were ticked and the rest carried over into tomorrow. I thought again about my daughter.

I thought about all my questions and all the answers I expect. I feel the frustration of not hearing the words I want to hear. I thought about last year, how we kept hoping for a different outcome, how we wanted good results, how we wanted miracles, how we just wanted an ordinary life with three healthy children. I think about how instead of that ,we got cancer and bad diagnosis after bad diagnosis. I think that if I was God I would say a completely different sentence to the one I keep hearing. Yet even though there are so many things I do not understand, so many prayers still waiting to be answered and so many days of returning to hospital for tests I did learn one thing this week. It’s the Pareto principle. The 20% of what I do is twice as effective as the 80% and if I keep prayer and God’s word as the most important “To Do” in my day, He will make the rest happen on my behalf. I’m just going to have to trust Him 100% because He’s never failed me before.

What about you? What’s on your to do list?



Filed under Life

16 responses to “To do list

  1. Bronte Waller

    i love the pictures and the words…tough stuff my friend…who did the last picture- i love it…
    i love you.

  2. Clare Froggatt

    Hello Bronte, Thank you my faithful, cheer leading friend. I found it while searching. When we seek, we do eventually find. Big Hugs back to you. X

  3. Sandy Foster

    So beautiful, touching, deep and simple Clare! Being not doing! Thank you – again. Your words have so much colour and clarity in them. He is… with you! Lots of love to you beautifu girl! xxx

  4. Just read” to do list “10pm sunday night.and like Sandy I thank you for “Bring not doing ” You are a good teacher. I love you mamx

  5. Deborah Cohen

    Dear Clare

    It is simply amazing how your words reach and teach me at the most appropriate times! Since moving to Tasmania my “to do” lists have been endless – unpack boxes, find shops, get boys settled at school, find doctors, dentists, dog washes. Like you, I love to tick off the items as I’ve completed the task. But today, I was feeling overwhelmed by it all. Then I read your beautiful words. The only item on my list today is just “to be”! I continue to follow your bumpy journey and feel so privileged that Jasper and I had a year of your wonderful teaching. We continue to pray for you, Samantha and your whole family. We send love and prayers across the Tasman Sea. Deb x

    • Clare Froggatt

      Hi Deb,

      So lovely to hear from you from across the Tasman Sea. I often think of you and Jasper and miss not seeing you both at school. I remember how overwhelming it was when we moved our family to Melbourne when our children were small. Even though we were in the same country there were so many different things to get my head around. I hope you settle in soon and that Jasper enjoys his new school and teacher. I’d love you to email me a recent photo of him. I am sure he is tall and ‘all grown up’ now. Thankyou for your continued encouragement and contact.

      Love Clare

  6. Ian Acheson

    Hi Clare – I feel your last 2 articles reflect new found perspective & wisdom as God leads your fingers across the keyboard. The image of Jesus sitting on “the other settee” is glorious & so comforting for all of us. Thank you for continuing to invite us into your lounge room, classroom, all the rooms of your life. Your words are changing hearts and impacting heaven…Ian

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thankyou Ian, your words of encouragement are very generous. I appreciate you taking the time to read, to comment and to continue to pray as we seek God for the full restoration of our daughter.I am so thankful to serve a God who reaches out from heaven to earth, who takes the time to sit where we are in our lives. Indeed His word is true “He is not far off.” Thankfully He also surrounds us with a community of people who are happy to walk beside us as well. It makes each day easier when we are not living life in isolation. Clare

  7. Simone Stewart

    Always tears when I read your words Clare. Your words are like my reminders. This one tells me to be Mary and not so much Martha. I struggle with that! You and Sam are incredible. Biggest love and many prayers for you both Simmiexoxox

  8. Ah Clare! God so speaks through you. I’ve been struggling at the moment a lot with not being able to communicate myself. I want to, but nothing comes. So I spent the weekend just soaking in God. Looking to Him, rather than inside of myself. & it’s so strange, but in looking to Him, He fills me up. It’s not something *I* can do; not on my own. He showed me that first of all I must be still…but being still on it’s own isn’t enough. I must be still AND know that He is God. It’s in knowing that, that inspiration (& everything else; peace, joy, love, contentment) comes. What a relief that I don’t constantly have to DO…I can just BE, & trust that God deals with the rest.

    You are brilliant. Billy & I love you so.

  9. Meredith

    I love having lists too Clare – i love crossing things off and feeling a sense of achievement. You have reminded me though that my ‘to do’ list should also include ‘being still and knowing that He is God’.
    Thanks for your encouragement.
    Mez xx

  10. Elizabeth Mel's mum

    Hi Clare,
    Melissa has been telling me about your site and how brave and strong you are , which of course I knew already but today I am on a different level as Peter has just been told he has depression and now has to take medicine and may now lose his job. He is such a different person to the one I knew a few months ago.. I am trying to be a supportive wife but man its hard….then I read your blog and I feel ashamed that I feel like this ,I really need the courage that you have and I know it all comes from God.. SO bless you my dear friend and thanks for your words , keep them coming…..

    • Clare Froggatt

      Hi Elizabeth, That diagnosis must be so difficult to hear. You have been through so much in your lifetime, it is so hard when another hit comes unexpectedly. One thing I know about you however is that you are a woman of amazing strength with the most incredible testimony. I know that what God has done before for you before, He is able to do again. I pray that you will find strength again in His grace and that you will be blessed and provided for. I pray that on the days you have nothing left in yourself that His mercy will be poured out on your life in a tangible way. Thanks for stopping by…much love Clare

      • Elizabeth Mel's mum

        Thanks so very much, and I am taking one day at a time because when we have a good day or even a few positive hours I think hey its all over but then its back again and I feel hummmm disappointed but I can say I have become a woman of prayer again as that is the only way out of all this…. Clare you are sooooo amazing…..

  11. liv

    clare, this is so encouraging and so helpful. thank you! xx

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