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  • Cathy Sweeney

The “Not Until” List

Summertime at Sweeney’s on the Creek is a little different now that it’s July.    While Steve and I go about our normal daily routines (even with longer daylight hours to ease some of the pain), the kids are winding down a bit from travels and camps.

Shannon, 21, is in between conferences right now, and as usual, spends much of her days reading and blogging on her book blog site.  This is actually a productive use of her time, given that she will be starting a publishing internship in NYC in the fall.  Travel and conferences start up again in a few weeks for her.  Jack, 14, has finished his sports camps and will be leaving for church mission trip in Colorado and scout trips to New Mexico in a few weeks.  Then he starts marching band with the Might Mustang Band at JJ Pearce HS in Richardson, all day, every weekday, in August.


As much as I’d like to let them just “be,” there are things that need done, and, as in many households, Steve and I expect help around the house so that we can all relax and take part in our favorite activities in the evenings.

To help manage the flow of their days, I implemented the “Not Until” list.  Each day, before I leave for work, I list five items for Jack to complete – three before lunch and two after.  He cannot turn on electronics (video games, cell phone, television, etc.) – not until the list is complete in the morning, and then again in the afternoon.  Shannon gets a list, too, but less than five items most days.

I actually started this challenge for myself a few weeks ago.  See, I tend to get distracted if I sit down at the computer and immediately click on a social media site.  To try to break that habit, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to do every morning before I even think about clicking on email, Facebook, twitter or Instagram:

  1. Bible Study (currently studying the Book of James) and prayer

  2. Journal about prior day, hopes for the current day, and observations from the study

  3. Calendaring in my traditional Franklin Planner – yep, as social media savvy as I am, I still prefer to carry my planner with me, paper and all. Old habits die hard!  I update any incomplete items from the prior day and make sure any new to-do are added to my lists.

  4. Household chores as needed – laundry or kitchen cleaning, empty dishwasher.

to do list

So far, so good.  I feel more organized and that I am getting started on the right foot every day.

I asked myself, “If I can feel this way every day, what about starting the week?  What is on my “Not Until” list for the week?”

I’ll bet my list is the same as yours, and it only has one thing on it:  Start the week with worship and community.  Not one or the other – BOTH.  See, we can worship without community, but then how are we sharing the joy and confidence we receive from our faith, if we aren’t in community with others?  And we can share in community over a breakfast, but it is in the worship service that we can turn our hearts and minds completely to God, to give God thanks and praise, and to hear God’s call to us for the rest of the week.

Where do we worship?  At church.  Where do we find that community?  In our classes, small groups, choirs, etc. – at church.

I believe we need to participate both in worship and in community.  Not until we have started our week with those two things can we begin our week, reminded in a very special way of God’s promise, grace, and importance in our lives.

What about you?  Do you feel different when you ‘skip’ worship or class on Sunday mornings?  What is it you miss, when you can’t be at church?  My prayer for you is that your “Not Until” list begins on Sunday morning with a trip to church, for worship and Sunday morning classes.  My prayer for you is that you know your attendance matters – to you, and equally important, to the rest of us.

See you Sunday.  Even on a holiday!


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