Making Your B List Your A List

My friend, Dave Franco, is a writer for the Rock Church in San Diego. One of the things that Dave does is write stories about people’s faith journeys for the members of the church. Once Dave found out about my story, I was honored to be selected for one of the stories he would write about. Thank you Dave for the great summary about our family and the lesson we’ve learned. Dave is a very talented writer and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to work with him on this summary. Read it below. – MichaelThis may sound very odd and off-putting, but the cancerous tumor that has grown in my brain, the one that will take my life soon, is not without its blessing. Let me just say before I begin, I do not wish to die. I have much to live for, a beautiful wife, four kids including triplets, and family and friends whom I love. What a joy they all are and how blessed I am to have them.

But I have realized that most of us modern-day people live such busy lives that almost no time is taken to linger on the truly meaningful things in life. That is certainly the trajectory of my life. I was going a hundred miles an hour at all times, pushing myself to accomplish as much as possible professionally and personally, the big job of leading the San Clemente Triton football booster club, and teaching Sunday School to 50 kids each Sunday. I’m even the kind of person that when I do get away on vacation, I often find myself thinking about my many responsibilities. I was on that path like so many others, distant from family and distracted by career and busyness. Most go on that way until the day they die or until their house, and life, are empty of the people that mean the most to them.

But for us lucky few, something slow growing like brain cancer  comes along, strips everything away and sets you down in the middle of your life with nothing to do but look around and see what’s around you. And this is what’s around me—so much blessing, so many things that I have been missing.

The other day, my wife and daughter wheeled me down to the beach where they propped me up in the sun and breeze and, unable to get around on my own, I was forced to simply stop and take in everything. I lived big chunks of that day just staring at the beauty and feeling the rays on my skin and the cool ocean breeze. My wife’s smile and touch lit up my senses and my daughter, as she laughed and talked and walked along the sand was more breathtaking than I can describe. Just spending this time with them was like a dream.

To think all this, and more, had been there all along, but I just couldn’t slow down long enough to see it. It took a brain tumor—and that indeed is a shame. 

But in an odd way, the thing that will take my life, has also given it. I am seeing things; things that I have been looking past for so long. Smiles. Eyes. Subtle movements. Quirks. Birds. Light. Flowers and blades of grass. The list is endless. Even time with God has become more rich, partly because it feels a little like calling a friend just before going over to his house. 

Most of us live by two lists, A and B. Our A list includes everything we must do that is urgent, such as work and saying yes to everything that anyone asks of us. And our B list, which is time with God, family and slowing down long enough to enjoy the quiet, poignant moments of life.  I think the most important thing in our lives is to get everything on the B list onto the A list and vice versa—before something comes along and makes you do it.

A pastor once said, “If the devil can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy.” What a thief he is. I wish you God’s blessing as you try to slow down long enough to gather up and count all that he has bestowed upon your life.

John 10:10

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”

Michael Coulson with Dave Franco


  • Mike O'Malley

    Colby: My love to you my friend. If you’re in LA again soon I’d love to come by and say hello.

  • Carol Lamendola

    So beautifully said. Who knew you could write so well. 🤪🤪. I know it’s been a rough road for you and your family. But you have this Michael and love and prayers will see you through.

  • Donna Coulson

    Beautifully said. I might add that although you have always worked hard, it was because your family has always been your top priority, and you wanted to provide them with a good life. Your legacy will surely be that of a devoted husband, loving father, wonderful son and brother, and a faithful child of God.

  • Jon & Rochelle Brannon

    Your thoughts are so profound and so meaningful. Michael, we are in awe if the richness you are sharing. Thank you for the poignant reminders! We live you so much! Jon & Rochelle

  • Leslie Coulson

    Beautiful Mikey…your message, your perspective, your testimony…you! Love you my dear brother!!

  • Cindy Hammond

    This message is so important, and so clearly stated that it’s clear the words were God-given! This truth was also revealed to me through my 2014 cancer diagnosis. Grasping this truth and eliminating the distractions allows more life to be lived in a year than we can in 20 years of running ragged. Every day we are alive, we are survivors! God is holding your family in the palm of his great hand and we all continue lifting you all up in our prayers.

  • Betty Tymes

    Michael, I wish I could visit in person but that is not possible so I will share a few things with you instead. As I read this I had a hard time seeing through my tears! Two reasons for the tears—-first because of your testimony and second because of the memories of going through a similar situation with my dear husband. He has been Home 2 1/2 years. I don’t wish him back but I do miss him! He might even be there to greet him you when you get Home! God has been doing a great work in me and I’m so looking forward to seeing Jesus face to Face! It has been a privilege sharing this bog with you. Love and prayers are with you and your family. God bless and keep you all!
    Betty Tymes

  • Charmaine Kulczyk

    Hello from Michigan Mike. Thank you for your messages and for sharing your journey with so many. God has given the words to teach and inspire people to find that God’s will for each of us is to love as Jesus loved and loves us. We do this in the way we communicate our thoughts in language easily understood. Jesus was never muddled, his words were clear and on point. “You are loved.” “I have come to tell you the Father loves you. “Live in my love.” “Forgive ….feed…share….pray….welcome the stranger, the outcasts….I am preparing a place for you….” Jesus taught in the way he lived. Speaking truth, embracing, healing, sharing wisdom, playing with and cherishing the children, inviting, enjoying meals with others….everything he said, everything he did showed us how to live. The frantic, chaotic, busy lives so many live today keeps men and women separated from true joy. Thank you for sharing the grace bestowed on you, thank you for being a prophetic voice for the man lives you are touching. I know when you meet Jesus he will celebrate your arrival home with “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I share these words written on my heart for close to 50 years…”Joy is the echo of God’s life within us.” May you and your family be filled to overflow with THIS joy. Love to you from all the Kulczyks (and their friends and family members.)

  • Stacy Tertany

    Michael, thank you for sharing this perspective! I am moved to tears each time I read your posts and continue to pray for you and your sweet family. This is such a great reminder to slow down and stop striving.

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