On Things Undone

It happens every fall, at our place. You have that big long list of things that you need to accomplish before winter hits, but then the list is longer than the time available, and you don’t get everything done. This annoys me, a little. Actually, a lot. I’m a list-maker, a compulsive list-checker-offer (yes it’s a legitimate phrase, I should know, I just made it up) and when those items on the list don’t get done . . . well, it galls me. I have to look at these undone tasks all the rest of the winter. The pile of firewood that didn’t get split. The wood chips that didn’t get hauled to the hoop house. Alas, the leeks that didn’t get dug and now are a sorry sodden mass out in the hoop house (I’m hanging my head in shame here).

But time has a way of charging forward, no matter what the condition of your list is, does it not? I’m so grateful though, that God doesn’t judge me for the things I finish or don’t finish. It occurred to me one early morning as I was out in the cold, doing my morning chores.

It had been foggy and damp the day before, so a delightful frosting had happened to the world while we slept. God had made a beautiful vision of my collection of undone things outside. Of course God would do that for me. Knowing my critical, self-judging heart, He covered up all the “should have dones” with indescribable beauty.

For example, check out what he did with the orchard (which still needs its final fall pruning):

On things undone

And take a look at the saggy chicken wire fence that didn’t get bolstered up like it should have . . .


You know those pesky invasive locust trees, growing through the chicken fence. They should have been cut out last fall. But God took them and made them beautiful.


That jumble of tomato cages that we tossed over the garden fence that day last fall, intending to return later to pile them all up neatly, took on a lovely look, see?


We never came back to finish this job. Obviously. For shame. Woe. But it’s okay.

And the pile of firewood? We got a lot of it cut and split and hauled, but not all of it.

We never seem to get to the bottom of this pile of firewood.

We never seem to get to the bottom of this pile of firewood.

The temperature was hovering right around 0° when I stumped around, taking these pictures. My toes were getting numb and I had to slip my fingers out of my mittens to take photos. It occurred to me that I was risking my fingers to frostbite to get those pictures, and that I’d have quite a longer list of “Undones” if I didn’t have fingers, so I stuffed my fingers back into my mittens and left them there.

“Behold, I make all things new.” This kept going through my mind on this particular morning, and ever since, actually. Of course I was taking this verse out of context. It is in Revelation: “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” It is a meditation on heaven.

Earth will never be heaven. No matter how hard we work to make it so, we’ll never accomplish heaven here on earth. There will always be more locust trees to cut out, more tomato cages that need stacking, more firewood that will need to be cut. We can work to the point of exhaustion but our earthly home will never, never be heaven. We live in a fallen world. And though God can do breathlessly beautiful things with our earthly home, it will never approach what heaven will someday be.

There was an English pastor in the 1600s named Richard Baxter, who from a very young age was plagued with many physical ailments. He said once that from the age of 21 he was “seldom an hour free from pain.” John Piper writes about him on his blog, “desiring God.” One time he got very sick, at the age of 35, and though he believed in spiritual healing, he didn’t think he would recover. So he began to meditate on the joys of heaven and the age to come, as he prepared to leave the world. He especially focused on “the hope of glory” and began to write his thoughts down. To his surprise, he got better, and his writings became the book The Saints’ Everlasting Rest.

Richard Baxter then adopted the practice of meditating on heaven every day for a half an hour, because of the powerful impact it had on his life. He said

If you would have light and heat, why are you not more in the sunshine? For want of this recourse to heaven, your soul is as a lamp not lighted, and your duty as a sacrifice without fire. Fetch one coal daily from this altar, and see if your offering will not burn . . . Keep close to this reviving fire, and see if your affections will not be warm.1

This 17th-century pastor had it figured out. As Christians we are not of this world. We are a peculiar people, born of this world but meant for another, yet . . . yet we focus so much of our energies on this earthly life. Then, when the dishwasher breaks or the children get sick, or somebody at work says something offensive to us, or even the weather takes a nasty turn for the worst, we are crushed. But we don’t have to be.

Paul said in Colossians 3:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

On Things UndoneThere will be another day to bolster fences and stack tomato cages and split firewood and dust the house. Until there’s not. I thank God that I have this pleasant way of life to keep my occupied and productive, but I know that it’ll never be perfect.

And I’m so thankful that I serve a God who will take what is imperfect and Undone and make it so thrillingly beautiful.

I hope you have a blessed day, Gentle Reader, and I want to remember you one more time of my sweet seed giveaway that you can still take advantage of. I’m sending 8 packets of 8 different colors of heirloom tomatoes, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, to one lucky reader! It’s quick and so easy to enter this drawing, with the Rafflecopter thing below. Plus, you can enter every day! But there are only 4 days left!

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18 thoughts on “On Things Undone

  1. Gene

    Oh, Amy, have you ever read a Ben Hewitt post and reflected on how you might have written about the same thing? You two are so different, and yet so much alike in your observational powers. I read this posting immediately after reading one of Ben’s recent postings, and then went back and re-read Ben’s and then re-read yours. Many of the same words, and same thought processes, the same reverence for the animals that share our earth and the same awe at the natural world – but coming from a completely different place. It is a special day for me when I can read a posting from each of you. My first thought after finishing my reading this morning was: Man, would I love to spend a few hours walking across the prairie with both of them (you and Ben), sharing a dinner and just talking about what we experienced that day. thanks!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I can’t think of a nicer thing than being mentioned in the same sentence with Ben Hewitt. I try to read everything he writes, and then I read it again. What I’d REALLY like is to be his next door neighbor, but I’d settle for the walk you mentioned and the dinner, too. I’ll bring the bread and the pie, if you set it up! 🙂 Thank you, thank you, thank you. 🙂 <----me

  2. Liliana Marsden

    Hi, what a great inspiring post. Both for faith and for getting things done.

    I was thinking the other day that I leave things undone and they also bug me and do not let me concentrate fully on the task in hand as they seem to come in my mind when I am doing something else.

    Also, your post made me realize that sometimes when I leave those things undone, after a week or so, they don’t need to be done. Something happened that overtook the need.

    Thank you for making me look into myself and my faith. That’s my word for 2014, increase my faith.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I’ve realized that, too, that there are lots of chores that–when put off long enough–no longer are that important to even do. Pretty nice deal, actually.

  3. Chef William

    Well Done Amy, and because we are both following the same path I am only able to say well done and save my usual remarks for a different time. God knowingly gives us more chores than we can complete because as the saying goes, “idle hands are the devils workshop” and while those actual words are not found in the bible it is something to think about. Now idleness is not the same as rest, and after you reach 70, you are allowed to rest. I just made that part up, but it sounds reasonable to me.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I agree with all you say, Chef, especially the bit about resting when you reach 70 . . . although I would have said “a certain age” and that it varies with the individual. 😉

  4. Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

    Since I have ToDo lists posted everywhere (thankfully, they are all synced and depict the same information 🙂 ) , I am used to being hit squarely between the eyes by my undone tasks. But, if that were not the case, they would forever remain undone! Perhaps, forgotten, only to return with a vengeance when their due dates have arrived.

  5. Mari

    Let me see, Amy. I want to review your pictures here:
    #1 – Fall pruning is better left till bud break in the spring now, so don’t worry about it.
    #2 – I see a beautiful blue sky with the brilliancy of the sun, and the hard lines of the fencing that is softened by the delicacy of the frost.
    #3 – I see the strength of the locusts holding the fencing tall and firm so that the wind, ice and snow can’t buckle the fence. It is a good thing. I do this all the time on purpose to keep fences stronger and less prone to sagging. Count it as a good thing!
    #4 – The tomato cages are all stacked up just fine. Be glad you have so many of them. Are they in your way? Then relax and enjoy the fact that they are close at hand and easy to retrieve in the spring/summer!
    #5 – With the wood in bigger chunks, it won’t get so water logged in the moisture – rain, snow and such. If you don’t need it this winter, it is a good thing. There is always time to chop it in warmer days and greater times of need. It is still seasoning, even when it is not chopped.
    Last one – not weeds, but more of God’s wonderful plant life that He shares with us. Everything God makes is good. We have to learn to love our weeds. They are there for a purpose. Everything is there for a purpose, just as we are.

    Some day when I get to heaven, I hope God puts me to work in the gardens and with the livestock – and with my precious Wendy, my Wyandotte, that I lost 2 days ago. She is my first chicken loss and I grieve for her. Her story is a wonderful one, though. I will tell it someday.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Oh, Mari, this was such an encouraging list for me to read! Thank you! I am so sorry that you lost your Wendy. I’d love to hear the story, when you’re ready to tell it.

  6. rose/cookinmom

    Enjoyed your post…wow, now that’s cold (0 degrees)! Remember, we are passing through… Because of Christ, we are made perfect in his (God’s) eyes not in man’s. Don’t chickens love weeds (good food)?!?! :0)

  7. Gillie

    Please forgive me for feeling just a little bit relieved to read your post. I have followed your blog and cheered as you build a new run or cold frame. And then I go and look at our own garden and plot and wonder when I am going to achieve all those wonderful things.

    There is a lovely little corner behind the poultry shed that is just perfect for hiding all those things that don’t get properly tidied up before winter sets in 🙂 This weekend was Operation Outside Tidy Up. This meant that it rained and snowed ALL weekend (except for Sunday morning when we were in church….) but when I got in the car to take the girls to the station for school this morning I did have a little bit of a whoppee moment.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thank you Gillie, I love this comment. I don’t think our chicken coop is big enough to hide the stash of unfinished projects at our house, but we do have a very big machine shed . . . And oh! I could write a MUCH LONGER post, if it would make you feel better, of manymany more things that we DON’T get done. In fact, any time we do a huge project (like our hoop house) you’d be astonished at the depths to which we sink, in our day-to-day living. Dust! Clutter! Tears! Unpaid bills! Dead pets! (Well, not really the dead pets.) They really pile up at those times.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Anita-Clare, taking it one day at a time . . . and remember to BREATHE, and often, are both good suggestions when your schedule is o’erfull. Thanks sweetie.

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