My year included some non-negotiables. I try to be careful about have to’s, because I’m a recovering Type A perfectionist—who will be in recovery the rest of my life! For me, a have-to can quickly become “I don’t want to” and “I can’t,” and then I’m planning the pity party, addressing invitations, ordering a cake. Still—my year has included with three non-negotiables.
#1 Every day I take a walk or ride my bike. Every day.
For 247 days straight now, I have been outside in the fresh air. Some days were hot and I actually sweated, not something I enjoy doing—ever! Some days were brutally cold and my little hand warmers merely reminded me how warm one part of my body could be while the rest of me froze! Some days were so windy I had to use my umbrella as a wind shield. Some days I got so wet that my coat went to the dryer, not the closet, when I got home. But every day I strapped on my helmet, tied the laces of my tennis shoes, and headed out. And every day I’m closer to God because of it. More about that to come…
#2 Every day I have Bible study. Every day.
I’m embarrassed to say that my non-negotiable walks came before my non-negotiable study time, but I think my biking streak, my walking streak helped me get past my old “resolves” to study, which never lasted. Instead of resolving to do it, I just do it. And every day I’m closer to God because of it. Because here’s what’s happening.
Every week I’ve got to have something to say here during our “Morning WOLK with God.” Frankly, it’s also a non-negotiable that I find a little frightening. During my time outside, during my walk, during my bike ride, I think. I plan. I walk and talk with God—sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly. And away from my computer and my phone, I’m able to connect and reconnect with God’s wisdom and encouragement. And every day I’m closer to God because of it.
And on a personal note, I have learned that while walking and talking with God—every single day—I’m not whining and complaining about the trivial and the trite in my day. I’m not addressing invitations to that pity party. Changes my whole outlook. I know!
And about Bible study, if I’m going to be honest, I can honestly say I’m not sure I’ve ever finished a Bible study. I’ve been part of church studies, small group studies. I’ve spoken at studies. But I can think of no study I’ve ever finished. I’ve always started with the best of intentions, the best resolves, but would soon find myself getting behind, and then getting further behind, and then getting so far behind, I wasn’t sure I should go to the next get-together.
In the past many weeks, I’ve been working through a Beth Moore study all by myself in the quiet of the morning. I get as far as I get. Some days I finish a whole chapter. Some days I get half-way through the video lesson. To make it work, I’ve actually set my alarm to get up 45 minutes earlier. I know! And the study God put in front of me? The study that was actually unopened on my shelf for 10 years (!), that was actually on my 2020 vision board—“Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit” by Beth Moore. Yes, living beyond yourself. During a time when I’ve been a little inwardly focused, God suggests “living beyond yourself.”
I love God! I love God!
#3 There’s a third non-negotiable that become more and more important to me: gratitude.
I don’t think of myself as an ungrateful person, but challenges and disappointments can leave me way too inwardly focused and less than appreciative, and in a year of challenges, I have needed to make gratitude a very real—very out-loud—moment of my day. And every day I’m closer to God because of it.
Beside me at my desk is that 2020 vision board that I created last January—long before COVID became a defining moment in our lives. I titled the board, “Walk the WOLK” which stands for “walk the words of loving kindness.” Below the title is a monthly WOLK calendar with small ways in which to “walk the WOLK.” On my board are pictures: pictures of family,
pictures of trips we would be taking to New York City, Palm Springs, and Crescent Bar. Next to the picture of Beth Moore’s study is a cut-out of my Bible. There’s a picture of me at my computer writing. And tacked throughout the board are “HIS” reminders: His will, His message, His people, His way, His love, His timing, His approval, His pasture, and His grace.
If you’d asked me about the past year, like many, I’d say it was horrific. But looking back at what was most important to me as the year was starting, I’d have to say it was very blessed. Not everyone can say that and I don’t mean to discount or dismiss those challenges, the losses that many have experienced and continue to experience. I just want to make sure that I’m sharing God’s love, joy, peace, and hope in ways that support and encourage those around me, and a spirit of gratitude can help me do that.
What are the non-negotiables in your life? How does God support and encourage you in your daily walk with Him? How can you best connect with God’s wisdom? How can you get closer to God? To His will for your life? As Beth Moore reminds us, “You were called to be a mighty woman of God.”
From Paul’s New Testament letter to the Philippians
help us focus on whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
help us think about such things.
Whatever we have learned or received or heard from You,
help us put it into practice.
And may Your peace be with us. Amen.
Speaker | Writer | Author
Before my father died, he reminded me that Mom had asked me to write a book. At the time the boys were in college, and the notion of writing was unfathomable. Writers write books. By the time my boys were adults, I’d run out of excuses. I was also at that age when I could pause and reflect.
Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace was my first publishing endeavor. My second was Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God. Both are collections of stories that tell of God’s love and faithfulness. Both tell of His remarkable grace and mercy.
When not writing, I serve as the Client Service Coordinator for The Planner’s Edge, an investment advisory firm in Washington state. I’m active in my church, serving on the Leadership Team and gathering with a wonderful group of ladies to study and giggle over lattes and chocolate. On my desk is a rock with the words “Choose Joy!” etched in it. It’s my inspiration for each day. As an author, it is my hope that my own words might share that joy we find together as children of God.
With Him, it can be so.
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