Posted by: donnatallman | December 30, 2013

Deliberately On Purpose

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”  Henry David Thoreau

As 2013 comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about Thoreau’s experiment to live deliberately. In fact, my mind, soul, and spirit have so exploded with the possibilities that I’ve decided to try his experiment for myself.

2014 will be the year that I live deliberately.

There. I said it. I’m going to do this year what I absolutely refused to do last year: I’m going to set a New Year’s resolution. For those of you who joined our journey last year, you’ll remember that I pitched a Texas-sized hissy fit refusing to set any New Year’s resolutions because they had become encumbrances of failure instead of testaments of success.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Considering Jesus by Donna Tallman

Last year the only thing I was willing to do was to consider Jesus and get to know him better. In the process of rejecting goal-setting last year, I accomplished the most elusive one of all: I wrote my own book and published it.* Not only that, but I was asked to speak at several women’s events where I was able to use the material to encourage others. 2013 turned out to be a truly amazing year.

Ridding myself of the obligation to write, freed me to write with abandon. What is that? It’s not surprising to people who know me well. Tell me I have to do something, and I’ll finesse a refusal. Obligate me, and I’ll disappear into a vapor. Order me around, and I’ll dig my heels in all the way to China. I do not like to be told what to do. I dislike it from others, and I especially dislike it from myself.

So, why would I let some dead guy tell me what to do a hundred and fifty years after he died? What am I thinking?

There’s something compelling about Thoreau’s invitation. His enticement to the unknown feels exciting to me somehow this year, and I’m anxious to join him. I keenly feel his call to adventure and believe the intrigue will be well worth any adversity along the way.


Donna Tallman, you are neither adventurous nor are you a risk taker!

Yeah, I heard that, whichever one of you thought that to yourself. Well, apparently I’m getting a lot more adventurous since I’ve been living on the road for the last two years. I don’t have much else to lose anymore so why not gallop off into the woods after adventure…it can’t be anymore harrowing than what I’m already doing.

So, off we go!

My first order of business was to write down all the things I have wanted to do but never had the time, money, or gumption to. I stopped after the second entry.

Something had gone awry.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

Is living deliberately simply creating a “bucket list” and checking the tasks off one by one? I don’t think so; it has to be more than that. After stopping myself, I could see that living deliberately has hidden implications. Living deliberately must also include “meaning” somehow.

Accomplishing tasks on a bucket list may not mesh with the larger purpose of my life, so it won’t contribute anything to deliberate living. Intentional living has to also include “purposeful” living. Since I am a believer in Jesus Christ, that meaning or purpose is automatically attached to his love for me.

So, I’ll try this again…

Living deliberately in 2014 will offer me the exciting adventure of intentionally pursuing the purpose for which God has called me.

So that’s my starting point. But as soon as I figured that out, my mind instantly flooded with a list of questions, reservations, and anxieties about the whole thing. I’m just going to list them here for you – unedited – so you can see where I might be going this year and what may bar the way to my own “success.”

  • Why did Thoreau go to the woods to live deliberately? Do I have to go into “nature” to live deliberately? What if I can’t do that?
  • If I haven’t lived deliberately, have I ever “lived” at all?
  • Do I believe I will begin to live again when all of my possessions are out of storage and I have a place of my own?
  • If so, what am I doing in the meantime? Am I waiting to live?
  • I have financial limitations. Can I still live deliberately when I don’t have a lot of money?
  • Is life simply a series of cosmic events that I react to, respond to, resolve, or run from?
  • Is there a place in Scripture that confirms living deliberately? Thoreau was a transcendentalist; I’d rather not delve into living deliberately without Biblical support for the concept.
  • What impact does technology have on my ability to live deliberately?
  • How can I preserve what I experience this year?
  • What is my purpose for being here and how can I align my life with that purpose?
  • What are the keys to living deliberately?

You probably have your own questions and anxieties. Don’t be afraid of them. Write them down and let’s learn together. I’m anxious to make 2014 even more amazing than 2013!

Here’s my first opportunity to live deliberately:

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

There’s a hill near where we are living that has been antagonizing me ever since we got here. It’s an old dumping ground for fill-dirt complete with intense altitude, incline, and moguls. Whenever I look at it I wonder how many times I could run up the face of it, but that’s insane.  #1) I don’t run, and #2) I hate exercise, but the hill won’t release me. Yesterday, I went over and took pictures of it hoping to stop its antagonism, but it’s only gotten worse. (BTW the picture has managed to conveniently conceal the hill’s most formidable qualities!)

I may have to run up there today to shut it up once and for all. I’ll let you know what happens…

What will you do today to live deliberately?

© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.

* Considering Jesus was published in October of 2013 to give to groups I speak to or people I meet along the highways and byways of life. Because I am not business-minded, it is unavailable for purchase online at the moment. I will let y’all know when I get that sorted out.



  1. Thank you, Donna, for your lifelong journey spent considering Jesus. I look forward to being able to buy your book and listen in on your deep and loving thoughts which always help me renew my own ‘considerations’ of the only things that truly matter in this life. Love you.

    • Thanks, Marian. Happy New Year, friend…I’ll be sure to let you know when the book is available! Blessings on your journey – thanks for your years of faithful friendship!

  2. Great post Donna it think this is the battle we all live good luck on your journey to live a deliberate life

    • Thanks, Randall. Adventure awaits!

  3. One way I’ve been able to discover ‘deliberately’ in my life is to consider the opposite way of life – passively.
    When I’m not looking a whole raft of things “just happen” both to me and by my own hand. It’s the time squandered and the choices deferred.
    I heard Morgan Snyder ( sum up his quest in the phrase “Forsake Every Shortcut” which has proven to be a good rule of thumb for myself as well.

    • Yes…living passively sucks the wonder and beauty out of life. Being passive is one of my greatest temptations…it’s easier to opt out than to jump in and create a life worth living. Thanks for the Morgan Snyder reference, Chris, will check it out. Happy New Year!

  4. ok, you must go see “the secret life of walter mitty”–starring and directed by ben stiller. (short story first penned by james thurber in 1939). just finished blogging about all the things i’m going to “go for!” in this life…you too! happy 2014…

  5. have a quote on my wall…seems fitting to add, “the world is full of people who will go their whole lives and not actually live one day. she did not intend on being one of them.”

    • love this! Happy 2014…Here’s to a year of intentional living, friend, you do it better than anyone I know!

  6. This is refreshing! I’m challenged to think about how to live deliberately. Right now I have no clue what that would look like in my life. which sounds so silly! Maybe I’ll try to figure it out day by day 🙂

    • I think there’s a component to living deliberately that pursues the still small voice of the Spirit that gives you inspiration…it can all be very intangible and ethereal, but when it breaks out into the physical realm – voila, you have deliberate living. It will look different for everyone…start asking the Lord for one thing you can do today that is “intentional” or “deliberate.” He’ll show you….then let me know! Happy New Year!

  7. Donna, I loved this thought provoking and yet exciting post today the very first day of the new year! As can be expected, after the hellish personal events I have endured the past 29 months, almost non stop, I was really apprehensive of facing a new year, so much unknown, so much sorrow experienced, so how much more is there to endure? I feel that I have been enduring well, surviving the best I can while still trying to ” live in the moment” on good days. I’ve done a lot of grieving, but there is still more to do. I will not quit living, enjoying the small treasures of today,for the loss, and sorrow I carry in my heart. However, b/ c the storm seems to be over for now, I savor life a little differently, I notice things I didn’t before, I seem to be more ” in tune” with others, the world around me and myself. I am learning to cherish “little things” , which sometimes end up being the great things that mark that day or experience. I too, have become more aware of the need to be intentional and deliberate. I will not waste my pain, loss and grief. I will learn all I can from it, I will use it as a jumping off point to something better, maybe even beautiful. I am taking Dr Norman Wright’s Crisis, Truma and Grief Counseling class again this Jan. I will learn something more, for I have suffered something more. I will invest in my children’s lives and those of my precious grandbabies, therefore, I have committed to be a part time nanny this year while my daughter begins the De Vos Institute of Urban Leadership. I will seek to be intentional in developing relationships w/ neighbors and ppl who are outside of my normal sphere of contact. I will be more intentional in mentoring by being present for the women in my life who struggle in their personal lives, attitudes, and. marriages. I will also be intentional in carving out time in my busy,life for that lonely, college senior who has been so wounded and need’s a mother’s tender love . I think I have what she needs!
    I will also be deliberate in reading some good ” soul food”, and expanding my taste in music, for my soul needs it.
    These are some of the things I am looking forward to in 2014

    • Your words will ring across the grief of many hearts who read them and provide hope to carry on. Living deliberately while continuing to grieve is perhaps one of the greatest steps of faith we can take, and one of the greatest opportunities we have to engage with the comforting ministry of the Holy Spirit. May you know His peace and comfort this year as you persevere through your pain. You will find Him in the quiet places where words may sometimes fail you, but He will never fail you. He is more than able to take your unspoken grief and translate that into deep deep comfort. Hugs for your journey and prayers for an amazing 2014. Donna.

  8. Today officially starts my new year. Kids are back to school, which means I must get back to some sort of schedule and back to school with Katelyn. Oh, I am excited to start this journey, and yet a little apprehensive. I am with you Donna, New Years resolutions are set ups for failure! But maybe not this year, just maybe not. My mind is swimming with thoughts of what it might look like to live deliberately. But I know, and glad you are reminding us, it must include Jesus. Yes, my sweet Jesus. I think that is top on my list. The last few years I let circumstances steal my excitement and confidence in my realtionship with Him. That needs, must, be first on my list. To deliberately learn how to walk with Him as I once did, not dragging my feet, but with life in my steps as we walk. Not sure how that will look or be accomplished, but so looking forward to it.

    • Walking with life in your steps…now there’s something I can really pray about. I love that! Yes, it’s one thing to walk this journey with Jesus, but an entirely different experience to walk with life. Keep me posted on your progress. Praying that there will be no limitations to your deliberate living this year. Now, off you go; adventure is waiting! 🙂

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