Written for anyone who gets frazzled this time of year (including myself):

I know, the LAST thing you think you need is yet another item on that wretched list! But that’s why This One Thing is so important…

Got your list handy? Add this now:



Yes, that’s the thing to add. And it might be good to add it more than once, in between the frantic, rushing tasks and errands and event preparations. Maybe several times.


You say you can’t stop? We’re just talking one to three minutes, if you can’t won’t allow yourself ten or fifteen. You stop to go to the bathroom, don’t you? Well, go to the bathroom, if you can’t find an undisturbed spot elsewhere. Lock the door behind you. Turn on the fan for some white noise—and just sit down on the floor, or (maybe even better) kneel, and… stop.

That is all.

Don’t have an agenda. Don’t do anything. Try even to screech your thinker to a halt, although that may be impossible. I know how those mental gears can keep accelerating.

Maybe think of one quiet thing, and as all the screaming demands keep jumping up to badger you, keep coming back to that one quiet thing. A flower, the memory of a still lake or a bubbling stream or a gentle breeze through leaves last summer. Or a quiet song… Or prayer. Especially a brief, quiet prayer is good.


The timing can be important. How can you know good timing? Your stress-ometer will tell you, your feelings and attitude will tell you, and if you put it off too long, your outward behavior will tell you that you should have done this ten minutes ago.

Know why we snap at our spouses or co-workers, lash out at our kids, start muttering rants to no one in particular this time of year? Mostly because we’re getting pushed past our physical or mental or emotional or spiritual limits. And much of the time the person who’s pushing us is… ourselves!

You don’t have to ask me how I know what it’s like to get wound up, overwhelmed, behind schedule, frumpy-grumpy, ready to scream, sweating even in the cold, before realizing an inner emergency is happening.

But somewhere along the way it started to dawn on me: Anytime I found myself just starting to get more easily irritated, grumpy, it was a red flag, warning: Overload! Overload! Stop! Stop! Just sit down and breathe.

You won’t waste time, you’ll save it.

And not only save it, but you can use it for probably the most important thing you’ll do all day: Connect with the One this “Season” is supposed to be all about! Pray, brief and simple. (Like, “God, help me!” …Seriously.)

Start now, this day, this hour, to pay attention to your inner stress-ometer. Practice this and you’ll keep getting more aware of the pre-grumpies, and more able to head off the rant at the pass.

And may His love, joy, and peace, be yours this Christmas season! Even today.

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“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled…” -John 14:27


10 thoughts on “The One Thing You MUST Add to Your To-Do List

    1. Oh, Sue, so good to see you here! And a peace-and-joy-filled Christmastime to you, too!

  1. Good points here, Sylvia. 🙂 As I read, it reminded me of a book topic Chicken Soup is looking for articles on… You could easily turn this into a short article that might fit! Here is the link… look for the topic about gratitude. They are looking for stories that show what we do to implement gratitude etc in our lives and how it has helped us…


    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtfulness, Pam. I’ll be passing, though. I’m past the point in my life now of seeking paid publication. Hope you’ll get a chance to pursue this, though. (But wow, what a lot God has shown me about the difference practicing gratitude can make!) A very blessed Christmastime to you!

    1. It must have been the Holy Spirit nudging me then! I was going to get off the computer and couldn’t stop thinking I needed to give you this link! I have an idea to write on it myself (different than yours) and was happy to see they extended the due date (orig they wanted it this month). Merry Christmas, Sylvia!!

    2. We’re sisters in this, aren’t we, Laurie!
      Peace and joy to you in this busy time!

  2. oops… I just realized that you didn’t comment that, yourself, Sylvia… 🙂 Oh well, maybe it still is the Holy spirit leading for you… 🙂

    1. I did that same kind of thing a few weeks back, Pam, getting people and their comments mixed up. But I did intend to comment on your very real and alive post about the nursing home and the amazing God moment that happened there. A real keeper to share again. I am so sorry that you and your father, and sister, had to go through that awful daily experience, and then to lose your father… But God has His amazing, surprising ways to interject profound blessing even into the midst of times like those.

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