A Lesson from Bike Riding

My husband and I love bike riding together. We aren’t experienced bicyclists, but it is fun to enjoy the great outdoors. On Memorial Day, we loaded up our bikes and rode on a path lined with orchards, blackberry vines, and wildflowers. The air was fresh with a hint of rain that waited until we were almost done.

About midway on our ride, a man came up from behind us on a scooter. His music grew louder as he approached. At the same time, I realized that we needed to stop at an intersection just ahead. I panicked and tried to simultaneously move out of the way and shift to a lower gear. It was too much for my brain to process and I crashed on the gravel.

I suffered a bloody knee and several bruises on my lower legs and on the wrist where I wear my watch. I cried, not so much because of the pain, but because my pride was wounded. My concerned husband asked if I wanted to return to the car. After examining the injuries more closely I decided to continue. I didn’t want a minor accident to cut our plans short.

As we pedaled down the path, I reminisced about learning to ride a bike. I was so afraid of falling that I didn’t attempt to ride a bicycle until I was eight years old. In the summer before I turned nine, I visited family. My cousins were around my age and none of their bikes had training wheels. If I wanted to hang out with them (and I did), I would have to muster some courage and ride a bike. I didn’t let fear hold me back.

It was delightful to balance on two wheels and keep up with my cousins. I got comfortable turning corners and going over bumps. And then, I fell. My fear had been realized. I sat in the dirt and thought of excuses for not continuing the ride. I would walk the bike back to the house and be done with it.

But my cousin cheered me on. “You’re okay. Get back up and try again.”

I stayed put. My fear of falling again kept me rooted to the ground.

My cousin persisted, reminding me of the scene in Bambi when he got injured in the forest fire. Bambi’s father, the majestic king buck commanded Bambi to get up. “Get up, Bambi. You must get up!” Bambi struggled and then complied, bounding to safety.

I finally responded to my cousin’s urging. I reluctantly got back on the bike. I fell again…a few times. Each time it became easier to get back up. I learned to ride a bike that summer. The greater lesson I learned, though, was to always get back up.

“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.
    But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked” (Proverbs 24:16 NLT).

Life is painful sometimes. We might be challenged in our relationships, employment, finances, or health. We might feel discouraged and defeated by the outcome. But we must not stay down.

What about when we make bad decisions or go against God’s Word? What if we find ourselves caught in sin?

Again, we must not throw up our hands in despair. God’s Spirit of grace is available to help us. We have His promise.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9).

When we confess our sins, the Lord forgives and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We learn from our mistakes and, by God’s power, change our ways.

When life gets hard, don’t give up. Trust the Lord and get back up.

Six Important Questions about Your Goals

We’re already three weeks into the new year. How are you doing on the goals you set on January 1? Are you keeping up the momentum or is your motivation starting to fizzle? Before you go any further, take time to pause and reflect on your progress. Gain clarity and impetus for achieving your goals by interacting with six important questions.

Question One: Are my goals written?
If your answer is “no,” for heaven’s sake write them down. Writing down your goals does a number of things.

  • It helps you remember them.
  • It reinforces your commitment to them.
  • It makes you accountable.
  • It gives you focus.

Question Two: How often will I revisit my goals?
Having a written plan is important, but the power lies in keeping the plan continually before you. Some people begin each day by reviewing their goals. Others review their goals once a week. Decide the frequency that works best for you.

Only a small percentage of businesses that invest in the strategic planning process actually accomplish their goals. By far, the biggest reason is that once created, the plan simply sits on the shelf. They continue doing business as usual without referring to their well-designed plan.

Next, take a look at each of your goals and re-evaluate them with these questions.

Side Note: Select no more than five goals to really focus on. The fewer your goals, the greater the likelihood of achieving them.

Question Three: Is this a goal I believe God wants me to pursue?
This really is the bottom line. Does the goal honor the Lord? Does the goal align with the teachings in God’s Word? Would this goal be approved by trusted, mature believers? If you can’t answer yes, you have a goal that is not worth pursuing. If the Lord has indeed put the goal in your heart, He will help you accomplish it.

Question Four: Is this a goal I am committed to?
Be honest with yourself. Goals are successfully accomplished through commitment. If you aren’t willing to persevere during challenges, your commitment level is low. In this case, you should change the status from a goal to a good idea. Focus on a different goal that you will commit to.

Question Five: What obstacles am I facing in achieving my goal?
You’re committed to the goal, but you’re still having difficulty. Step back and objectively look at the situation. Identify the obstacles and problems. You may need to enlist support from a mentor or a friend.

Question Six: What adjustments do I need to make?
In light of the obstacles, you may need to tweak your plan. You may need to change your timeline. You may need to change your approach or take a detour. Ask the Lord for His wisdom.

If you can’t fly, then run.

If you can’t run, they walk.

If you can’t walk, then crawl.

But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every choice you make is either bringing you closer to or farther away from achieving your goals. Choose wisely, and keep moving forward.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).

One Word for the Year

Welcome to 2021. For many people, the passing of 2020 brings a sense of relief, not because the new year magically rid the world of all its problem, but because we have successfully lived through a year considered the most difficult one in recent history. When the clock struck midnight, the weariness of the past 366 days (2020 was a Leap Year) was lifted, and replaced by hope for better days. Even though the coronavirus is still here and social and political issues continue unchanged, the new year brings a renewed determination to flourish.

The new year also symbolizes the new life and new start available through trust in Jesus Christ. We can pack up our mistakes and offer them to the LORD, in exchange for a clean slate and another chance to do better.

I have a meaningful tradition for starting the new year with fresh faith. I select One Word for the Year.  Instead of making a new year’s resolution (which has an eight percent success rate), I spent time in prayer (talking and intentionally listening to the LORD) and choose a personal word to direct my course for the year and provide inspiration to become a better version of myself. It usually takes serious and deliberate time with the LORD to come up with your One Word, although I have heard from some colleagues that they asked God for direction and immediately discerned their One Word.

I can attest to the power of One Word, as I have practiced this for several years. Last year my One Word was “fearless,” with the accompanying Scripture verse: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18a, NIV). Little did I know how often I would come back to that word to face problems and challenging situations with courage.

Last summer, I realized that the non-profit I lead would be unable to have our usual annual fall fundraiser due to COVID-19 restrictions. As we converted to a virtual format, stress and anxiety began to mount an attack on my mind and health.

At the perfect time, my assistant gently approached me saying, “What is your One Word for the Year?”

I tried to pull the word from my memory without success. I ran to my office and found it in the middle of my bulletin board. The bright red graphic emphasized the word like a neon sign. How could I forget? I raced back and breathlessly announced, “It’s ‘fearless.’”

“I think the LORD really wants you to remember your word, especially now,” my assistant pointed out.

“Point taken,” I agreed smiling. “Thanks for your help.”

There are different ways for identifying your One Word for the Year. You know how the LORD relates with you. I encourage you to connect with God in the ways that work best for you. However, if you’d like some direction, here are some basic steps for choosing your One Word for the Year.

  1. Reflect. Think about the past year. Is there a direction you’d like to change or a quality you’d like to add to your life? In what area does the LORD desire you to growth?
  2. Imagine. Think about what the perfect day would feel like. Focus particularly on how you feel during this perfect day. This is best done during quiet time, meditation, or prayer. Is there a Bible verse the LORD keeps bringing to your attention?
  3. Create a list. Set a timer and create a list of words. No erasing or changing words. Once it’s on paper, leave it alone and keep going. If you prefer, Google a list of words as a starting point. If you already have a particular direction for your word, write it down and add as many similar words that come to mind. Continue to pray.
  4. Review and refine. Review your list. Highlight or circle your top three. Pay attention to how each one makes you feel. More importantly, to which word do you feel the LORD leading?
  5. Ask yourself: Which of these words am I most willing to commit to? If the word merely interests you, most likely you won’t make the changes necessary to implement it. Commitment is the key to success. Take as long as you need to think and pray this through (but don’t procrastinate).
  6. Choose your word. Which one has the LORD confirmed to you? Which one are you 100% committed to? That’s the word for you!

Make sure you write and post it somewhere you will see it regularly, even daily. Be as creative as you want to highlight the importance of your One Word for the Year.

My word for 2021?

“Expectation.”

The Scripture verse is: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” (Heb. 11:1, NLT).

I would love to hear about your experience with One Word for the Year. I am celebrating with you!

Note: One Word for the Year can work for your team, department, or organization. It is a simple yet powerful tool to bring focus to your efforts and activities.