Do the Next Thing

This poem hangs on my refrigerator; I'm in a season where I need the daily reminder desperately.  I thought I'd post it here for you to see, too (I do not know the original author, but I know Elisabeth Elliott has quoted from it):

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “Do the next thing.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

That Little Fellow’s Dad

The following poem has been taped to my dad’s desk for as long as I can remember.  Now that I’m the mom of boys (and the wife of a man who is a very good dad to boys), it’s especially meaningful to me.  I can’t get all the way through it without a lump in my throat. 

A few years ago, I made a copy for my husband, and now it sits framed on his desk, too.  I don’t know who the author is, unfortunately (if you know, please tell me), but I thought you might like to see it:

There are certain dreams I’d cherish that I’d like to see come true.

There are things I would accomplish ere my working time is through.

But the task my heart is set on is to guide a little lad–

To make myself successful as that little fellow’s dad.

It’s the one job that I dream of; it’s the task I think of most.

For if I fail that little fellow, I have nothing else to boast.

For the wealth and fame I’d gather, all my fortune would be sad,

If I fail to be successful as that little fellow’s dad.

I may never be as clever as my neighbor down the street.

I may never be as wealthy as some other men I meet.

But if he who follows after shall be manly, I’ll be glad,

For I’ll know I’ve been successful as that little fellow’s dad.

If you’re as taken with this poem as I’ve always been, and you’d like a copy, I made a JPEG of it, sized to fit in a 5×7 mat or frame.  Feel free to grab it here (if this works; not sure if it will):

Download littlefellowJPEG.jpg.

“The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.” –W. Somerset Maugham

In the shelf over my kitchen desk is an impressive collection of Papers Without Which I Cannot Live.  There’s my household notebook, a dictionary, my Bible, a school handbook and directory, thesaurus, our latest Blockbuster DVDs, a couple of carefully hidden books we don’t want the kids to find before Just The Right Moment, and other such vitally important items. 

And there, tucked in place of great honor, is a beautiful journal covered in shiny black leather.  The papers have a perfect-sounding crinkle that makes my heart beat a little faster. 

It’s my quote book.

I first began collecting quotes when I was in college.  My world was broadening exponentially, and daily, and I was astonished to learn that there were many people other than ME who had important things to say.  As I navigated those choppy waters of late adolesence/early adulthood, I scribbled others’ important thoughts in a journal covered in obnoxiously cheery pink fabric.  I filled it up.

After college, and marriage, I entered my Professional Stage.  I decided my quotes should be carefully typed and neatly stashed in a three-ring binder, sorted by topic.  I spent a couple of months typing my entire collection.  It looked very nice and ridiculously organized. 

Then I had my first baby, and I had visions of my children someday coming home from my funeral and sorting through my things.  Wouldn’t I rather have all my most treasured quotations passed down to them in my own handwriting?  And so I re-copied–again–my entire quote collection in its current location.   

I don’t worry so much about the whole handwriting thing anymore.  In these frantic days of busy-ness I could never have imagined years ago, I don’t have time to be picky anymore about how these quotations get recorded.  Some are neatly hand-printed, many are scrawled in a handwriting that would make a doctor blush, many are printed directly off a website and slapped in with a piece of Scotch tape.

But however they got there, they are all treasures. 

Many of those quotes have journeyed through all my quote books, collections from those early days when I was first discovering the delight of a well-turned phrase:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.  –Eleanor Roosevelt

Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.  –Mother Teresa

There are quotes from favorite movies…

An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure.  –Steel Magnolias

…and favorite books.

The task, and the joy, of writing for me is that I can play with the metaphors that God has placed in the world and present them to others in a way they will accept.  –Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries

There are quotes added in times of great sorrow

I have learned to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them out of my hands.  –Corrie ten Boom

…and quotes added in times of great joy.

A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair, and the Hope of the Future with a frog in its pocket.  –Alan Beck

There are many quotes from people whose names appear more often than others…

He is not all we would ask for (if we were honest), but it is precisely when we do not have what we would ask for, and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all-sufficiency.  It is when the sea is moonless that the Lord has become my light. –Elisabeth Elliott

What saves a man is to take a step.  Then another step.  –C.S. Lewis

…and many quotes from people whose names have been long forgotten.

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. –Anonymous

A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice.  –Anonymous

I treasure all those quotes–they’re all mementos to me, moments in time captured in writing, and souvenirs of lessons learned.  But as I no doubt have much, much more to learn, tell me:  what’s your favorite quote ever?  I still have plenty of empty pages to fill. 

Weekend Wisdom

Let’s put on our thinking caps and hear from the late, great C.S. Lewis today.  This man knew how to generate profound quotes, didn’t he?  If you really want to blow your mind, spend a little time in this book.

–Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

–Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

–Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"

–I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

–If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.

–It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

–It’s so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see one.

–Let’s pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere.

–Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people.’ People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war… Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.

Be Still, My Soul

Be still, my soul. The Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to your God to order and provide.
In ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul. Your best, your Heav’nly Friend,
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul. Your God will undertake,
To guide the future as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake.
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul. The waves and winds still know,
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul. Though dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vail of tears.
Then you will better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.
Be still, my soul. Your Jesus can repay,
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul. The hour is hast’ning on,
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul. When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Katharina von Schlegel, 1752


Photo courtesy of

Corrie ten Boom

I wrote awhile ago about my love for quotes by Corrie ten Boom, and I thought I’d share a few with you:

Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our path, is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see.

Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. 

Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible. 

Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to faultfinding.

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. 

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. 

The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.

If God has called you, do not spend time looking over your shoulder to see who is following.

For more profound thoughts from Corrie, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Hope you all have a great weekend!


There is nothing–no circumstance, no trouble, no testing–that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me.  If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment.  But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is–that is the rest of victory!

–Alan Redpath, former pastor of Moody Church