Telling Our Kids “No”

“No.” A small word, but yet a powerful one. And . . . one I use often . . . with my kids. They need to hear it. Some days, it seems that they need to hear it more often than usual. It’s such a small word, but if used wisely, it can help us lead our kids towards the very path that God has for them.

That word  “no”. What emotions quickly come to mind when you hear it? For me, the word “no” often is followed by feelings of disappointment, frustration, anger, or sadness. For my kids, the word “no” is often followed by physical displays of their disappointment, frustration, anger, or sadness. These come in the forms of tantrums, screaming fits, hitting others, saying unkind words to others, slamming doors, or sobbing hysterically. Can you relate to that at all? The word “no” often brings a negative reaction when used, and I think that because it often brings a negative reaction, there are times as a mom, that I’d rather give in and say, “yes” when in reality, I should be saying, “no”. There are times that I fail to tell my kids “no” simply because I am too tired to deal with the consequences. Have you ever been there? 

There have also been times that I failed to tell my kids “no” because I was worried about being that mom. That mom who was too overprotective. That mom who was too strict. That mom who was no fun. Sometimes I said, “yes” to things that looking back on, I should have said, “no”. I only said, “yes” because I was afraid of what others would think of me. Can you relate to that? I think if we’re honest, many of us would agree that we can.

But even though, we may get a negative reaction from our kids, why is it important for us to sometimes tell them, “no”? First, kids need boundaries. They actually thrive when given boundaries. Boundaries are those limits we put in place that keep our kids safe physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I read some interesting information on brain development that shows why it is so important for us as parents to set boundaries for our kids. 

Our brains develop from back to front, and the prefrontal cortex is the last area of the brain to fully develop. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for the following: our ability to reason, think logically, problem solve, plan, focus, develop and carry out goals, and control our impulses. It also plays a key part in the development of our personality. In addition, and don’t miss this bit . . . it is not fully developed until we are 25. Age 25! Until our kids are at the age of 25, they are not developmentally ready to make the best decisions that will keep them safe. As parents, that is our job. As parents, we have to set and clearly explain boundaries that will keep our kids safe. 

Secondly, our kids need to learn how to deal with disappointment and frustration. As adults, they will not get everything they want when they want it and will face the disappointments and frustrations from being told “no”. Our job as a parent is to give them practice on how to handle these feelings appropriately. Teach them what you do when you feel disappointed or frustrated. Teach them the appropriate response when they don’t get what they want when they want it.  Kids who are given opportunities to work through disappointments and frustrations when they are young and learn how to cope with them develop into mature adults who have patience and empathy for others. 

I read an interview of Betsy Brown Braun who is a Child Development and Behavior Specialist. She explains what can happen if kids aren’t given clear boundaries or always get what they want.

“These are the kids who often have trouble playing nicely with others; they have a hard time socializing because they have never experienced being anything but king. They have a hard time keeping friends, a hard time interacting in groups, a hard time taking turns. They seldom know how to delay gratification; they want what they want when they want it, and they have a tough time in the world, interacting with others. Once children get beyond (preschool) and kindergarten, the real world is not going to give them just what they want all the time or even most of  the time. Their world is then full of disappointment, and they blame it on everyone else, not taking any responsibility themselves. These children aren’t able to look into themselves and say, ‘Gosh, this is happening because I wasn’t helpful or I didn’t give him a turn.’ They often see the world as being against them. A person’s ability to socialize, to interact with others cooperatively, to be part of a team, to be both leader and follower all grow out of his having learned to accept boundaries and to tolerate the frustrations that result from other’s needs and wants, in addition to his own, that he will no doubt encounter.”

We need to allow our kids to have times when they experience disappointment and frustration. We need to give them opportunities to experience delayed gratification. Kids who learn these skills at a young age will learn that they won’t always have the perfect tool for every job, and they will learn how to adapt and work through difficult situations. It is so important that our kids hear, “no” from us sometimes. 

Now, what are some situations our kids may face where we may need to say, “no”? First, it is appropriate to say, “no” when their actions might hurt someone or break something. Going back to how the brain develops, kids may have difficulty seeing how their actions may result in a bad outcome. They need our guidance in making safe choices. 

Secondly, we need to say, “no” to doing those things we do for our kids when the responsibility should be theirs. How many times have you been rushing to get out of the door on time in the morning and find it easier and faster for you to tie your kindergartener’s shoes rather than letting him do it himself? I’ve done it many times, even with my second grader. But, let me ask you this. What lesson is my child learning when I tie his shoes for him? He’s learning that even if he can do it, mom will usually step in and do it for him. And that attitude can follow him into the classroom. He may then believe that if mom will tie his shoes for him then surely his teacher will as well. From personal experience, I can tell you that your child’s teacher does not have time to tie everyone’s shoes! We need to be giving our kids age appropriate responsibilities and stepping back and letting them do them. A toddler can help clean up toys. A preschooler can learn how to put away laundry. An elementary school child can make his own lunch. Model for your child how to complete the task, offer support, and then let him do it. This teaches him responsibility. 

Thirdly, we need to say, “no” when it is a want, not a need. This ties into delayed gratification. Our kids need to learn that in life, you will not always get what you want. They need opportunities to experience the disappointment that comes from that. They need to learn that they can live without it that thing that they really wanted. 

My oldest had a birthday recently, and we got him a cell phone. He was beyond excited because he has been asking for a cell phone for the past two years. According to him, every student in the entire school has his own phone, and he was the only student in his grade that didn’t have one. While this very well might be true, when it came down to it, he didn’t actually need a phone. He simply wanted one. Sometimes our kids need to learn to live without those things they really want. 

Fourth, we need to learn to say, “no” when plans change. Life happens and sometimes we find ourselves in unexpected circumstances. Take those opportunities and teach your child the value of patience and flexibility. I think much of mothering takes patience and flexibility. Give your kids practice with both. 

Another situation that we may face when it is appropriate to say, “no” is when someone else’s needs (temporarily) matter more. Kids are naturally self-centered. It is important that you model and teach them how to care for others whose needs are greater than our own current needs. Through this, children learn to consider other’s feelings and learn how to be generous to those in need. For example, you might need to tell your child: “No, you cannot go to your friend’s house on Saturday. It sounds like fun, but we are helping your aunt move to her new house. She needs our help that day.” Sometimes, we must say, “no” when someone’s else’s needs matter more. 

It’s also appropriate to say, “no” to something you know you will regret. Our local college offers swim lessons twice a year. My younger two love going to these lessons, and I love them because they come away from those lessons having learned so much. They offer three, week-long sessions, and this is where I have had to exercise the power of “no” with my kids. If it was up to my younger two, we would attend all three sessions. That is three straight weeks of swimming lessons every night during the week. And I . . . just can’t go there. It’s too much in an already packed schedule. To sign my kids up for all three weeks would be a decision I would regret, so I’ve said, “no”. Saying, “no” to things you know you will regret will teach your children about setting healthy boundaries and how to compromise. 

And lastly, it is completely appropriate to say, “no” when it’s something that is against those very things you value most. You will have to make some difficult decisions as a parent. Make decisions that are wise for your family even when they go against everything the world is telling you. Romans challenges us by saying,

 “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” 

Romans 12:2 (MSG) 

Don’t be afraid to say, “no” to those things that go against everything you value and believe. This teaches your child the value of integrity, courage, and holding close to those beliefs that you cherish most. 

Now, how do we say, “no” to our kids in a way that is loving yet effective? First, be clear and firm as you address the behavior that is inappropriate. Being clear and firm is not yelling at your child as loud as you can. It’s getting down to your child’s level, looking directly in his eyes (this shows him that what you are saying is important and needs his attention), calmly addressing the negative behavior and reminding your child of the boundaries that have been set. “We don’t pee on our sister in the bathtub. If you need to pee, please get out and use the potty.” (This may or may not have happened in our house!) Now, there will be situations that you may need to yell, “no”. If your child is running towards a busy street, that is a situation when it is completely appropriate time to do so. Most times, however, clearly and firmly addressing the behavior with your child will work. 

Next, it is important to remain consistent when telling your child, “no”. What do I mean by this? If you are consistent in your parenting, it means that you intentionally choose how you engage with or respond to your child, and this does not vary over time. If you don’t let your son pee on your daughter today, that means that he still will not be allowed to pee on her tomorrow. Our kids thrive when we are consistent. They quickly learn that some behaviors are going to always be off-limits. Now, it is also important to note that you and your spouse need to be on the same page when it comes to your parenting and be consistent together.  A child who learns that he can get away with a negative behavior with one parent will use that to manipulate situations to get what his own way. Be consistent in how you use the word, “no”.

Lastly, look for the teachable moments. Teachable moments are those times throughout our day when God gives us the opportunity to pour truth into our kids. It’s those times when we can teach them about how God wants us to live. When we tell our kids, “no”, there are teachable moments there. When we tell our kids, “no”, there are valuable lessons to be learned. The hardest part in all of this . . .  is actually taking the time and having the patience to do it. Because, I won’t lie to you . . . it takes work. But, mama, let me tell you something. It is so worth your effort! 

And that leads me to one last thing. I want to remind you, that one of God’s greatest desires is for your child to come to know and love Him. God wants you, as a parent, to teach your child about Him and to raise your child in a way that follows the commands He has given us. We cannot expect our churches or our schools to take on this responsibility for us. They can be a great support, but we are the parents. We are the ones to whom God entrusted these little people. And He tells us how to do this. In the book of Deuteronomy we find these words,

“Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.” 

Deuteronomy 6:5-8 (MSG)

God wants our kids to grow up as independent, kind, responsible adults. I want that too. I want my kids to grow up to be adults that I actually want to hang out with. But, God also wants our kids to live lives that honor Him. He wants our kids to love Him.  As mamas, our job is to lead them down that path. Our job is to say, “no” to those things that we know will lead our kids the wrong way. Proverbs promises us the following: 

“Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.” Proverbs 22:6 (MSG)

I love how The Message translations says that . . . “when they’re old they won’t be lost.” I can’t promise you that your child won’t stray from the path God has for him at some point. But, I can tell you this; once God has captured the heart of your child, He won’t let go.

Mama, you have been called to a great work. God has chosen you to lead your children down a path that honors Him. It won’t always be easy. Being a mama is hard, but it also brings such joy. I pray that you would continue to seek Him, and I pray that He would continue to give you the wisdom needed to fulfill this calling He’s placed on your life. You’ve got this, mama. 

 

 

References:

Biblegateway. www.biblegateway.com. Accessed 13 Feb. 2019.

Cedar, Jill. “Why Does Consistency Matter in Parenting.” Very Well Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/why-does-consistency-matter-in-parenting-4135227. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019.

Cleland, Tayjor. “How to Say No to Your Kids and Why They’ll. Thank You Later.” The Mother Company. http://www.themotherco.com/2015/01/how-to-say-no-to-your-kids-and-why-theyll-thank-you-later/. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019. 

Grose, Michael. “How Consistency Improves Kids’ Behavior”. Parenting Ideas. https://www.parentingideas.com.au/blog/how-consistency-improves-kids-behaviour/. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019.

Kennedy-Moore, Eileen. “When and How to Say No to Kids.” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/growing-friendships/201712/when-and-how-say-no-kids. Accessed 13 Feb. 2019. 

“Prefrontal Cortex.” https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/prefrontal-cortex. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019.

Pozatek, Krissy, “Why It’s Important to Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Kids.” Mind Body Green. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17051/why-its-important-to-set-healthy-boundaries-with-your-kids.html. Accessed 13 Feb. 2019. 

Stasney, Shelly. “7 Facts About Your Child’s Prefrontal-Prefrontal-Cortex That Are Game Changers.” This-N-That Parenting. http://www.thisnthatparenting.com/2018/04/26/7-facts-about-your-childs-prefrontal-cortex-that-are-game-changers/. Accessed 15 Feb. 2019.

Saying No

 

No. Such a small word, yet such an important one. Why do we have such a hard time saying it? Why do we have such a hard time saying no to things that we know deep down in our souls are not ours to do? I recently read a blog post by Francisco Sáez that I felt gave some very good reasons.

First, we want to help. Simple as that. We love to help others whenever we can. If someone calls me up and asks me if I can help with something, everything in me wants to say yes even when realistically it might not be possible. We don’t want to say no because we love to help other people.

Secondly, we want others to like us . . . all of the time. We would rather spend our time doing millions of things that we know are not ours to do rather than tell someone no and face possible rejection. Wouldn’t you agree? We want people to like us. Therefore, we have a hard time telling others no.

Thirdly, and this is one I hadn’t thought of, but realize I do this a lot. Sometimes we don’t say no simply because we respect someone. Think of someone in your life that you highly respect. Maybe it’s your parents, a teacher, or a good friend. If that person asks you to do something, is it easier to tell them yes or tell them no? For me, there are some people in my life that I just can’t say no to because I love and respect them so much. Do you have someone in your life like that? Do you have someone you just can’t say no to?

Next one . . .  sometimes we don’t say no because we want to avoid conflict. Do you enjoying being in conflict with another person? If you’re like me, then I would have to guess that you don’t. Often, I think it is easier for us to say yes then confront someone and say no. For me this ties back to number two. I want everyone to like me, and I avoid conflict like the plague. We often don’t say no because we don’t want to face potential conflict in our relationships.

Now, this next one is a huge one for me, and I’m guessing it’s a big one for many of you too. Guilt. We don’t say no because doing so will make us feel guilty. Guilt is that feeling we get when we think that we have done something wrong or we have failed someone. This is the one that kicks me in the gut every time. I hate having that feeling that I have disappointed or failed someone. I feel this especially in my role as a mom. I question the decisions I make concerning my kids all of the time and worry that I’m failing as their mom. Can you relate to that at all? Sometimes, we don’t say no because we feel guilty, even in those times when saying no is perfectly reasonable.

The last one is the fear of missing out on future opportunities. Sometimes, we’re afraid that if we don’t say yes when someone asks us to do something that they will never ask anything of us again. Maybe your kid’s soccer coach asks you to help lead practices this spring. You would love to say yes, but with your husband doing a lot of traveling for work and three other young kids at home, you just can’t make it work right now. But, if you say no now, will the coach consider you next season? Or, maybe your boss at work offers you an amazing promotion. You know you have the skills to do the job well and the salary increase would be huge for your family. But, you also know that with the promotion come longer hours at work, and you feel like you barely see your kids now as it is. Saying yes seems impossible. But, if you say no, will your boss think of you the next time a promotion opportunity comes up? Sometimes, we’re afraid that if we don’t say yes now, we will be missing out on future opportunities as well. 

There are many reasons that we choose to say yes when we actually should be saying no. But why is it important to say no to begin with? First of all, the more times I say yes to the needs of others, the less time I have available for those things dearest to my heart. Those things that I’m passionate about. My family. My ministry. My Best Yes assignments from God. If I am spending most of my time saying yes to assignments that aren’t mine, I’m missing out on the ones that are. 

Secondly, saying yes all of the time affects us physically, mentally, and spiritually. Taking on assignments that aren’t yours can easily lead to anxiety, stress, or even burn out. I love this one quote from Lysa Terkeurst. She says,

“Saying yes all the time won’t make me Wonder Woman. It makes me a worn out woman.”

She’s absolutely right. Taking things on that God did not create us to do can leave us feeling stressed and depleted over time. 

Thirdly, saying yes when we should be saying no can affect our relationships with others. Think about it. If you have a friend that you repeatedly say yes to when in reality you should be saying no, what is going to happen? Over time, you may begin to resent that relationship. Over time, you may begin to resent that friend. It is important to remember that sometimes we have to say no. 

Now, even though there are times that it is important to say no, there are still times that you have to say yes. You cannot say no to avoid responsibility or say no to purposefully hurt others. If you are working and receiving a paycheck for the work you complete, you are obligated to complete it. If you have given your word to someone and promised to complete a task, you are obligated to complete it. If your baby has a poopy diaper, you are obligated to change her. Not every responsibility is going to be your responsibility, but you still have some responsibilities. This lesson is not to encourage you to say no to every opportunity that presents itself at your door. The word “no” is not to be used to avoid responsibility or used to hurt someone else. 

So, how do we do this? How do we graciously and effectively say no? It’s important to start practicing what we are going to call the small no. What do I mean by that? A small no is a no given early before expectations and disappointments can build. 

Last year, our school secretary was working through some difficult health issues. Due to the lack of substitutes for that position, she often was forced to come in for work despite the pain she was suffering. I empathized with her and told her I wished I could help her out, which was completely true. I love to help people. But, I admit that when I said those words, I didn’t expect her to then ask if I would apply to serve as a substitute in the district. Immediately, I knew that this was not something I could realistically do in my current season. So what do you think I said? Yep! You guessed it! I told her I would take a look at my schedule and see if it was something I thought I could do. Deep down, I knew my answer had to be no. But rather than telling her that right away, I chose to delay my no. I chose to delay it thinking that maybe she would forget that she asked me. Now, let me ask you something. From her perspective, what did my answer tell her? It told her that I was possibly interested and that I would look into it. How do you think that made her feel? Hopeful. She was hopeful. She was hopeful that I would come on as a substitute, and she would be able to take the time off that she needed to get well. 

Delaying our no answers does three things. First, it builds hope. When we chose to not say no right away, we give the other person hope that we might actually say yes. 

Secondly, giving a delayed no prevents that person from making other plans. The school secretary was hopeful that I was going to say yes. And though I don’t know this for certain, I wonder if she held off asking others to consider subbing because she thought I might actually do it. When we fail to say no early on, it can keep others from making other plans. 

Lastly, delaying our no answers makes the eventual no so much harder to receive. After a few weeks of skirting the substituting request from her, I finally had the courage to tell her that I just couldn’t do it. She was extremely disappointed which made me feel even worse. Lysa Terkeurst says, “A small no pushes through the resistance of awkwardness and disappointment because it’s better to nip something early on. Early on, expectations and disappointments can be managed better with a small no. But the more we let things develop and progress, the harder the no becomes.” And that’s true. I delayed telling her no and when the time came that I finally confessed that I couldn’t do it, it was extremely hard to say the words. 

In the book of Matthew 27:11-26 (MSG), we find the story of Pilate. Pilate served as the Roman governor of Judea from 26-36 AD. In his position, he was responsible for seeing that the people in his jurisdiction obeyed Roman law.  After having Jesus arrested,  the Jewish religious leaders brought him before Pilate. Pilate saw the situation for what it was. He believed that Jesus was innocent and that the religious leaders arrested him purely out of envy. But rather than tell them no at the start, Pilate delayed his response. Instead of saying no he questioned the Jews and the charges brought against Jesus. Instead of saying no, he offered to pardon one prisoner. The crowed could choose to pardon Jesus, or they could choose to pardon a well know murderer named Barabbas.  Pilate delayed saying no until it got to the point where he no longer felt he had the power to do so. As the Jews threatened to riot, he washed his hands of the situation and turned Jesus over to be crucified. I think it was God’s plan that Pilate did not use the small no because I think things would have turned out much differently on that day if he had. The small no. When used wisely, expectations and disappointments are easier to manage. 

But how do we actually say no?  How can we graciously and effectively tell others that the assignment they have asked us to take on is not ours to take? Comedian John Crist gives us some example. Check out  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3oc735Ay2k. 

Just say no. He’s right. When it comes down to it, all we need to do is say no. Matthew  tells us,

“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.” Matthew 5:35-37 (MSG)

Just say no. A simple no. As a culture, we have gotten it into our heads that saying no is not nice. Saying no is selfish and hurtful to others. However, a simple no can be gracious, honest, and life giving. A simple no can be used to encourage and build others up.

When you must tell someone no, be gracious and kind. Ephesians tells us,

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29 (MSG) 

When you must tell someone no, be honest. Proverbs says,

“An honest answer is like a warm hug.” Proverbs 24:26 (MSG)

Dishonesty only builds hopes and expectations. Choose to be honest.

When you must tell someone no, look for an opportunity to encourage and build them up with your words. Ask yourself what you can say that will encourage that person despite the fact that you are saying no to them. Ask yourself what you can say that will build them up not tear them down.

Lysa Terkeurst gives some great examples of how we can graciously and effectively say no.

    1. While my heart wants to say yes, yes, yes, the reality of my time makes this a no.
    2. I am honored by your request but I’m in a season of refocusing my priorities and have committed not to add anything new right now.
    3. After living at an unhealthy breakneck pace for too long, I’m learning to realistically assess my capacity. Though I would love to say yes, the reality of my limitations means I must say no this time.
    4. I so appreciate you asking me, but I must be brave and decline this opportunity. Saying no is hard for me but necessary in this season. Thank you for understanding.
    5. I’ve promised my family not to add any new commitments to my schedule right now. Thank you for our friendship that allows me to be honest with my realities.

I have a friend who also gave me a great example. She told me that when I tell someone no that I don’t have to give my reasons or apologize profusely. She said that she usually just says, “I’m sorry. I can’t at this time.” And . . .  that’s it. Simple, yet honest and effective.

To close, I want to remind you that God’s desire is not for us to always say no. He has assignments before us that He wants us to say yes to: our Best Yes assignments. But to make room for those assignments and to complete them in a way that honors God, we have to say no to those things He did not create us to do.  Graciously, honestly, and simply say no. It is in those moments that we turn down those assignments not meant for us that God opens the door to what He has next. Have the courage to use the power of the small no. Have the courage to say no so that you are ready to say yes.

 

References:

Biblegateway. www.biblegateway.com. Accessed 4 Feb. 2019.

“The Psychological Cost of Never Saying No.” Harley Therapy Counseling Blog. https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/saying-no.htm. Accessed 5 Feb. 2019 

Saez, Francisco. “Why You Should Say No More Often, and How to Do So.” Facilethings.  https://facilethings.com/blog/en/say-no. Accessed 4 Feb. 2019.

Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.

“Who Was Pontius Pilate?” Got Questions. https://www.gotquestions.org/Pontius-Pilate.html. Accessed 5 Feb. 2019.

Be Confident

Several years ago, a dear friend came to me with a ministry opportunity. She and I had served together for several years, and we had become quite close through that.  I loved her heart for the people we served, and I admired the wisdom and grace with which she led. She was teaching me so much, and I could see how God was using her to minister to so many. So, you can imagine the disappointment I felt when she began talking about feeling led to step out of the ministry. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would raise up another woman just like her to fill her place, and I was confident that God would do that. But I will admit, that I was completely caught off guard several months later when she told me that she had been praying, and God told her that I was the one to take her place. Completely . . . caught off guard . . .  Caught off guard so much that I’m pretty sure I laughed at her before giving her my immediate no. Her response? She just gave me this knowing smile and told me to pray on it. So, out of respect for her, I did. I prayed on it. I prayed on it not just for a few days or a few weeks. I prayed on it for almost a year. A year. And every time I prayed, I felt conflicted, and I felt anxious. Why? When it came down to it, I was afraid. I was afraid that I might fail. I was afraid that I wouldn’t do the job as well as she had and in doing so would not only fail her, but fail the very people I served. And if I took this position in the ministry and failed at it, wouldn’t I also be failing God? I mean, if He had really told her that I was the one, and then I couldn’t do it . . . ? The thought of failing God, was more than my heart could bear.

Can you relate at all? Have you ever felt anxious, lost sleep, or felt so conflicted as you wrestled with a decision? Have you ever wondered which path before you was the one that God had for you? Have you ever been afraid to say yes because you were afraid you might fail?  Have you ever been afraid to say no because you feared that no would take you off of the path God had for you? I think many of us have this desire within us to be living our lives in God’s will all of the time, and we want to 100% sure that we are making the right choices all of the time. But, how can we be confident that we are making the right decision? 

First, it is important to remember that there will never be a perfect decision. Ever. A perfect decision implies that a decision is completely flawless and will have no difficulties associated with it at all. Have you ever made a decision like that? A perfect decision? I haven’t. Every decision, even those really good ones, have some elements of difficulty that come along with them. Remember my story about buying my daughter a horse? That has proven to be a good decision. Yet, we have faced some difficulties associated with that decision. Just a couple of weeks, our sweet little pony decided to buck during the middle of a ride. Thankfully, my daughter hung on, but it was not something I would expect that would come with a “perfect” decision.  On the flip side, poor decisions can have some elements of good in them. Have you ever made a poor decision for yourself, walked through a difficult time because of it, and then came out on the other side and were able to see the valuable lessons learned through that decision? I have. Many times. We need to remember that perfect decisions do not exist and that there are good and bad elements to every decision. 

Secondly, we need to remember that we will not always make the right choice. We are going to make mistakes. But that’s all that they are. Mistakes. Lysa Terkeurst says,

“If you desire to please God with the decisions you make and afterward it proves to be a mistake, it’s an error not an end.”

It’s an error, not an end. Sometimes I get it in my head that if I make the wrong choice, I’m going to completely mess up God’s plan. Did you hear what I just said? That I would mess up God’s plan. Who am I that I could mess up the plans of the Creator of the universe? I can’t. And neither can you. I love something else, Lysa said. She said, 

“My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.”

Hear that again. “God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.” I cannot mess up God’s plans. He is going to accomplish what He sets out to accomplish regardless if I am on board or not. He is going to accomplish what He sets out to accomplish regardless of whether I make the right decisions or not. He will get done what He intends to get done. And those things He intends to get done? They are for the good of the people He desperately loves. The book of Romans reminds us,

“And we know that for those who love God, that is, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things are working together for good.”

Romans 8:28 (ISV)

It might be for my good or it might be for someone else’s good. All things . . . all things are working together for good. Even . . . those mistakes I make. God can turn those around and use them for good. Remember, your mistakes, they are errors, but not an end. 

Thirdly, we need to remember that God can always be trusted. Always. We are told in Psalms,

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.”

Psalm 9:10 (NLT),

Whatever decision we are facing, we can trust God with the outcome. If I make a good decision, God can be trusted with the outcome. If I make a poor decision, God can still be trusted with the outcome. Lysa Terkeurst said this,

“If I’m trusting myself, I will stare at all the possible ways I could fail. If I’m trusting God, I will stare at all the possible ways He’ll use this whether I fail or succeed.”

This reminds me of the story of Peter found in Matthew 14 (VOICE). After Jesus feeds the five thousand, he sends the disciples out on a boat and heads up the mountainside to be alone to pray. In the middle of the night, the disciples look out over the water and see Jesus walking towards them. Yet, they don’t recognize that it’s him and believe they are seeing a ghost. Jesus calls out to them and says,

“It is I. You have nothing to fear.”

Peter calls out to Jesus and says,

“Lord, if it is really You, then command me to meet You on the water.”

Jesus beckons Peter to come to him . . . to walk on the water. Peter begins walking towards Jesus. But then, the wind and the waves grab his attention, and Peter turns his eyes away from Jesus. What happens? He immediately begins to sink. Peter calls out to Jesus to help him, and Jesus pulls Peter from the water. Jesus then looks him in the eyes and says,

“O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?”

How often do we dance back and forth between following Him and giving into our fear? How often do we choose not to trust Him with the outcome? Take a moment and check out the following Skit Guys video about trust. https://skitguys.com/videos/trust-fall. Did you see yourself in the video like I did? 

How often do we give in to our fear? How often do we give into our fear and not trust Him? Remember back to the beginning of the year when I asked you to think about that one thing that stirs your heart and that you wish you could do? What is holding you back from doing it? It may be that the current season of life you are in right now isn’t a good fit. Or maybe, financially you just can’t swing it right now. But, let me ask you this. Is it fear that is holding you back from doing that thing that you desperately wish you could do? Is it the fear of failing that is keeping you from saying yes to that opportunity God has placed before you?

Whatever decisions you have before you, I encourage you to do several things. First, really think about those decisions and pray on them. Think about the demands that those yeses will take and any consequences that may come from them. And . . . pray on them. Really pray on them. Ask God if this is a best yes for you now in this current season. Then, have the confidence to step out and make the decision. Make the decision and be confident that you made a good decision. How can we be confident? If we are living our lives in a way that honors God, we can trust Him with the outcome of each and every decision. Each and every one. Proverbs 3 gives us this promise:

“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)

Trust Him. Trust Him enough to confidently say yes or confidently say no. Then trust that He is big enough to take care of the rest.

january 17:22 lesson

 

 

www.biblegateway.com

www.quotefancy.com 

https://skitguys.com/videos/trust-fall 

Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.

 

 

The Gift of Release

This . . . is my front closet.

game closet

 

And . . . it drives me crazy. This is the space where we keep all of the board games our family likes to play. (Along with gift wrap and batteries because those are all logical things to keep in the same closet, right?) The problem with my front closet? It is always in a state of chaos, and this state of chaos causes my blood pressure to rise every time I open the door.

Over Christmas, our kids received four new games that were added to this closet. When I took this picture, game number one was hanging precariously, ready to tumble to the floor at any moment having been shoved in front of another game that was already on the shelf. Game number two fell off of the shelf it was placed on and now was on the floor. Game number three was on our kitchen table because I didn’t know quite where to shove it. And lastly, game number four (which hadn’t even been removed from its wrapper) was MIA. It might have been in the closet, but I honestly cannot confirm that.

This closet. This closet can best be described as chaotic, and if I’m honest with you, this is sometimes how my life looks as well. When decisions come my way, I say yes. I say yes and add to an already overloaded schedule. I say yes before I consider the trade.

Consider the trade. What do I mean by that? To trade means to give up something in exchange for something else. With any decision we make, some type of trade is involved. With any decision we make, something is given up in exchange for something else. Let me explain further.

When faced with any decision, big or small, we have to first remember that we have a choice. We always have a choice. We can choose to take the path God has placed before us, or we can choose to go our own way. Matthew 7:13-14 (VOICE) tells us,

“ There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it.”

Whichever path we take, we need to remember that we always have a choice.

Secondly, we need to remember that with each choice we make, comes a consequence. These consequences can be good or bad, but each one has an effect on us in some way or another. Lysa Terkeurst says, “Choices and consequences come in package deals. When we make a choice, we ignite the consequences that can come along with it.” In Scripture, we see numerous examples of people who faced consequences based on the choices they made. In the book of Genesis, we find the story of Adam and Eve. Eve was faced with the decision to obey God or listen to Satan and eat the forbidden fruit. Her choice? She disobeyed God. Her consequence? She and Adam were cast out of the Garden and sin entered the world. In the book of Exodus, we find the story of Moses. A Hebrew baby raised in the home of the Egyptian Pharaoh whom God calls to lead the Israelites out of captivity. Despite his fear over this task, he chose to obey God. His consequence? He watched as God work wonders and released his people. In 2 Samuel, we find the story of King David. David chose to follow his lustful desires and slept with another man’s wife. When it was discovered that she was pregnant, David had her husband killed. His consequence? That child that was conceived would die. When facing a decision, it is important to consider the possible consequences before you say yes. 

Lastly, it is important to remember that with each decision we face, comes an opportunity for release. To release is to let go of something or to set something free. As women, we take on more than we can realistically handle. We say yes and add more and more to our already wearying schedules. We trade our time, our finances, our emotional health, and our peace in the names of our families, our homes, or the expectations of others. And then, we wonder why each additional yes leaves us feeling stressed and weary. Friend, with each decision we face, there is always an opportunity for release. Always. We need to become women that are in the habit of releasing things we have previously said yes to, to make room for our best yes assignments. We need to let go of those things that are no longer ours to do or those things that were never ours to begin with. Why don’t we do this?

I think it boils down to fear. We are afraid. We are afraid of the what ifs and the what could have beens. We are afraid to say no because it might mean we are missing out. Missing out on things that might be important down the road.

How many of you are like me and have a closet full of clothes that you literally cannot wear right now? I look at my closet and see plenty of clothes that fit me right now, but, I also have clothes that are too big for me. I’ve worn them in the past and might need them again if I continue to eat  Christmas cookies at the rate I have been these past few weeks.   I also have clothes that I have not worn since I first got pregnant with my first child. Since before I first got pregnant with my first child! Why do I have them? We both know that after you have a baby, things never go back to how they once were! Yet, I hang onto this hope that maybe, just maybe someday, I’ll be back to a size 10. Can you relate? Please tell me that I am not alone in this.

I think back to my front closet as well. Many of the games in there are ones that we haven’t played in years. Yet, I’m afraid to let them go because maybe, just maybe we will want to play it sometime. We are afraid. We are afraid of missing out. We are afraid that we may release something that might be important sometime down the road. 

Sometimes, however, it’s more than just the fear of missing out that keeps us from release. Sometimes we are stubborn and just plain out refuse to release something. We refuse to release it even though we know that harsh consequences are likely to follow. We refuse to release and as a result, we may miss out on some of the best things God has for us. We can see this in the examples I gave you earlier. Eve. She refused to release her desire for the forbidden fruit. Because of this, she and Adam missed out on Paradise. Moses. I shared how he obeyed God, but we also find in the book of Numbers that he disobeyed God as well. The Israelites were wandering in the desert and ran out of water. Now, this had happened before. The last time, God instructed Moses to strike a rock with his staff and water poured from it. This time however, God instructed Moses to just speak to a rock and water would come forth. Moses doubted God and struck the rock instead of speaking to it. Moses refused to release his fear and as a result, he missed out on entering the land God had promised his people. David. He refused to release his desire for Bathsheba. Because of this another man lost his life and David lost his son. He would miss out on watching his child grow up to be a man. Just like Eve, Moses, and David, we also will flat-out refuse to release things from our lives even though we know that there will likely be harsh consequences for us to follow. Have you ever done that?

Lastly, sometimes it isn’t the fear that we’ll be missing out or the flat-out refusal to let something go that keeps us from release. It’s our inability to make a decision. Sometimes I can’t let things go because I’m unsure of what decision will be best. I put off the decision in hopes that my circumstances will improve or the direction I should take will become clearer. I tell others that I’ll pray on it for a bit. Have you been there? Have you ever known deep within you the decision that must be made, but simply put it off? You put it off because you are uncertain which direction to take or are afraid of the consequences that will come with that decision. Lysa Terkeurst says, “Not making a decision is actually a decision. It’s the decision to stay the same.” She’s right. She’s absolutely right. My decision to put off a decision is me choosing to stay right where I am. And often, right where I am is filled with uncertainty and chaos.

To close, I want to share with you a book that I stumbled upon a few years ago. It’s called The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger. It tells the story of a small yellow oak leaf. Though fall is nearing to an end, the leaf refuses to join the other leaves as they fall from the tree. He keeps telling us, “I’m not ready yet.” Because he refuses to release himself, he misses out on dancing in the air with the other leaves. He misses out on experiencing the fun that is found in being piled up with other leaves and having children jump on you. He finds himself feeling very alone. Alone because he chose not to release. How often are we just like that little leaf?

Friend, we have to let go. We have to release so that we can move forward in the plans God has for us. Lysa Terkeurst shares a story in her book, The Best Yes about a time that she visited a friend in Connecticut. Upon her arrival, she discovered that they had just received twenty inches of snow . . .  in the middle of the fall. As they left the airport, they passed pile after pile of not just snow, but broken trees as well. You see, the leaves had not yet had an opportunity to release themselves from their branches. The snow clung to the leaf filled branches, and they broke under its weight. Lysa says, “The trees weren’t designed to face snow before releasing their leaves. They weren’t made to carry more than they should. And neither are we.”

 She goes on to tell us that this process of release . . . it’s a gift. Just like those trees in that fall snowstorm, we cannot carry the weight of two seasons at the same time. We were not created to carry so much. Lysa says, “In the violent struggle of trying, (we’ll) miss every bit of joy each season promises to bring.” This process of release is a gift my friend. A gift from our Father. When we have the courage to release those things in our lives that are no longer ours to do, it opens us up to being in a place ready to receive what God has for us next . . . what God has for us in this current season. Isn’t that our desire? To be right where God wants us right now? 

Going back to my front closet. This is what it looks like now.

closet 2

I made the decision to release some of the things that I had been holding on to. I released some of the old to make way for the new.

Is there something in your life, something in your closet that you’ve been holding onto so tightly? Have the courage to release it, friend. Release it to our Father. You can trust Him with it. Isaiah 26:3-4 (VOICE) tells us,

“You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. So trust in the Eternal One forever, for He is like a great Rock—strong, stable, trustworthy, and lasting.”

Whatever you are holding on to, whatever you are afraid to let go of, release it. Release it, lift your eyes to Him, and then step onto the path He places before you. You can trust Him. You can trust Him. 

 

 

References:

Bergin, Carin. The Little Yellow Leaf. New York, Greenwillow Books, 2008.

Biblegateway. www.biblegateway.com. Accessed 31 Dec. 2018.

“Why Was Moses Not Allowed to Enter the Promised Land?” Got Questions. https://www.gotquestions.org/Moses-promised-land.html. Accessed 31 Dec. 2018. 

Merriam-Webster.  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trade#synonyms. Accessed 31 Dec. 2018.

Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.

You Need to Evaluate It

Making wise decisions . . . are you still struggling with that like I am? Even though I do my best to apply wisdom, insight, and discernment to my decision making, sometimes there are decisions to be made that are still really hard. Sometimes I am asked to do things, and I’m unsure what the wisest decision will be. Sometimes, I feel that I am expected to say yes, but the thought of moving forward leaves me feeling conflicted, anxious, or overwhelmed. Can you relate to this at all? Some decisions, require us to step back and take some time to process and evaluate them. Not fret and stew over them, but process and evaluate them. How do we do this? Let me share what I’ve been learning.

First, when faced with a decision, it is important to identify the expectations and responsibilities that will come with saying yes. Remember my story from a few weeks ago about my daughter’s desire for a horse? As my husband and I wrestled with that decision, we talked about the expectations and responsibilities that would come with the purchase of a horse. 

First, we talked about the financial expectations. A horse was going to cost money. Feed costs, vet and farrier costs, the actual purchase price of the animal, and the tack we would need were all things to consider. 

We also had to think about where we would put the horse. We have a bit of land, but it’s mainly wooded. Building a barn would require the clearing of a number of trees, and we would have a financial commitment in the form of materials and labor for its construction. We had to weigh the pros and cons of building a barn or boarding our horse somewhere else. 

Time was something else we had to consider. Once a horse is bought, there is a great amount of time required in caring for it. If we chose to board, the stable would take care of the feeding, watering, turning out, and cleaning of stalls, but, it would still be necessary for us to go over to the stable to ride. In addition, our daughter expressed interest in showing. Joining 4H and attending horse shows would be another time commitment to add to an already busy schedule. We had to identify the expectations and responsibilities that would come with saying yes to that decision. When you are faced with a difficult decision, it is important to identify all of the expectations and responsibilities that will come with saying yes.

It’s also important to identify if those expectations and responsibilities are realistic for you in your current season of life. First, think about your time. Do you have the time in your current schedule to devote to the demands saying yes to this decision will bring? When it came to buying a horse, we understood that it would be a time commitment. We also felt that it was manageable with our current schedules. 

Secondly, think about your abilities. Do you have the necessary skills needed for this commitment? I’ll be honest and tell you this was the one area that concerned me most with this decision about buying a horse. I grew up on a dairy farm. I know nothing about horses. But, at the same time, I knew we would get our daughter into a 4H club and that we had a fantastic trainer who would answer all of my questions. I was confident that we could move forward knowing the support we already had or would have in place. 

Thirdly, you need to consider your finances. Can you afford the financial responsibilities that come along with this commitment? 

Fourth, think about your passion. Do the responsibilities of this opportunity excite you or fill you with a sense of dread? As much as I feared getting a horse for my daughter, I was excited about it as well. Ask yourself if this opportunity before you fits in with your passions? 

Lastly, take a hard look your current season of life. Does this opportunity fit in with this season? Is this opportunity doable in the season of life you are walking through now? For us, buying a horse now seemed to fit. Grace is still young and still has much to learn when it comes to horseback riding. Now seemed to be an opportune time for her to get a horse that can grow with her in the coming years. The timing . . . seemed right. Getting a horse now, worked with our current season of life. When facing a difficult decision, identify if the expectations and responsibilities are realistic for your current season of life. 

In addition to identifying if an opportunity fits into your current season, you must also identify if you have the resources an opportunity needs or deserves. It is wise to do this. Luke 14:28-32 (MSG) says,

“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’ Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty-thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?”

It is wise to think about the resources that are needed before saying yes to a decision. Think about a decision you have to make, and ask yourself if you have the physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional resources available to say yes to that decision. 

As we thought about buying a horse, we first asked ourselves if we had the physical resources needed. The answer was no, not right now. We would need to either clear land and build a barn or spend the money to board a horse elsewhere. What about financial resources? Yes. We would need to cut back in some areas, but financially we could make this work as long as we were careful with our spending. 

Spiritual resources? Would the purchase of a horse prevent me from getting my quiet time in every day or keep me from growing in my walk with God?  Unlikely. Would participation in horse shows prevent us from getting our kids to church? Possibly. We would have to set some firm ground rules in this area if we proceeded. 

Emotionally? Would the purchase of a horse and the extra time requirements needed for it add stress to my days? Maybe some days. Would purchasing a horse add unneeded stress for my daughter? Unlikely. When facing a difficult decision, identify if you have the physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional resources saying yes to that decision would require. 

I want to close by encouraging you to do one thing before you commit to another opportunity. Yes, I want you to evaluate the expectations and responsibilities and see if they match with your current season of life. Yes, I want you to see if you have the resources available that this opportunity needs or deserves. But, I also want you to think about your approach.  What do I mean by that?  In God’s Word, our approach to activities, our approach to people, our approach to life must always be loving and it must always . . .  honor Him. Colossians 3:17 (VOICE) says,

“Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.”

The Street Bible (by the way if you haven’t checked out this translation yet, you must!) says,

“Whatever you’re up to, thinking or doing, act like a rep of our Boss Jesus – getting your thanks to God through him.”

Everything we do must honor Him. Lysa Terkeurst says, “If the activity we’re considering is in line with God’s Word, but our approach to that activity isn’t, we will overdraw ourselves and bankrupt this part of our lives. A good approach to something requires enough resources to handle the demands of the activity . . . If someone or something demands attention that I don’t have the emotional space to handle, my actions start betraying my intentions. I will start slipping at reflecting Jesus in my words and deeds. When we slip at living out the Word of God, we slip at living in the will of God.” And there, friend, lies our answer to whether saying yes to an opportunity is wise or not. Before taking on an opportunity, ask yourself these questions: “It feels thrilling to say yes to this now. But how will this yes feel two weeks, two months, and six months from now? Do any of the expectations that will come from this yes feel forced or frantic? Could any part of this yes be tied to people pleasing and allowing that desire to skew my judgment of what’s realistic and unrealistic? Which wise (older, grounded in God’s Word, more experienced, and more mature) people in my life think this is a good idea? Are there any facts I try to avoid or hide when discussing this with my wise advisors?” Lysa Terkeurst.

If taking on that opportunity means saying yes to one or more of those questions, then let me ask you this . . . . Are you the right person for that assignment? Is that opportunity a Best Yes for you? Lysa says, “Whatever attitude we bring into a situation will be multiplied.” Will you bring a heart fixed on Jesus ready to move in His will or will you bring a heart that is reluctant and fixed on this world.  Our activities must honor Him, yes. But our attitude and our approach are just as important.

Saying yes is about truly understanding those assignments God has just for us. Carefully evaluate and process the opportunities that come before you; measure them against what you know is true, what you know is right. Look for the invitations God has before you. When you see them, say yes. Say yes, and bring honor to His name.

 

Lacey, Rob. The Street Bible. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan, 2003.

Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.

Gathering

Question for you. When faced with a decision, how do you know what is the best decision to make? How do you know what God has for you?  How do you know if God is presenting you with a Best Yes assignment?

My daughter has been taken horse back riding lessons since she was six. Now, I know, that many young girls go through a stage where they absolutely love horses. When we started lessons, I thought that’s all it was. I thought it was a stage and something that she would probably grow out of. Within the past year, however, my husband and I both realized, that for our daughter, it was more than a stage. 

She had one particular pony that she rode every week. He was old, but still had a lot of spunk to him. He loved to run, and so did she. Very few things could light up her face like galloping on that pony could. A couple of months ago, we learned that he was really sick and didn’t have much time left. I’ll never forget the day we told her. She sobbed in my arms, completely broken. His passing was one of the most difficult times that we have walked through with our daughter. In the weeks that followed, she continued to grieve, and shared with me as she had done numerous times before that she really wished she had a pony of her own. 

Decisions. Daily, we are faced with decisions. Some are quite easy as to whether or not to do laundry today or tomorrow: whether to make homemade pizza or order in: whether to allow your child to wear a princess dress or batman costume, mask included, to the grocery store. Others though, are harder: like what to tell your daughter when her tear filled eyes look into yours. When we are faced with decisions, how do we know what is the right path to take? How do we know that we are making a wise decision?

It starts . . . by gathering wisdom. Wisdom is gained by acquiring knowledge, insight, and discernment. Knowledge: it’s understanding what is true, and is found by reading and praying through God’s Word. His Word is absolute truth. Insight: it’s taking that knowledge, taking that truth that we know and living it out in our lives. It’s applying what we learn to our mothering, our marriages, our relationships, and to ourselves. Discernment: it’s the ability to make those wise choices. Discernment is that gentle nudge within you from the Holy Spirit that reminds you of that truth you know and how you should be applying it. It’s also found in seeking out godly counsel and insight from wise people who know you and want only what is best for you.

Now, sometimes in life, we find that there are places where we can easily gather wisdom. There are also places though, where wisdom can easily be scattered. Studying God’s Word: we gather wisdom there. Drowning ourselves in the bottle of wine to forget the troubles from the day: wisdom scatters. Taking time to connect with other believes: wisdom is gathered there. Wisdom scatters when you completely withdraw from those who support you and love you deeply. Wisdom gathers in conversations that are honoring. Wisdom scatters in conversations filled with gossip. Wisdom gathers when we honor God with our time. Wisdom scatters when we mindlessly browse social media or tv for hours on end. Choose to place your heart and mind in places where wisdom gathers. 

Wisdom will come as we work to acquire knowledge and insight. We will be able to discern what the best choice is, and we can be confident in those decisions. Too often, we make decision making too complicated. We think about all of the what-ifs, the but thens, and the maybes. Yes, some decisions need more processing time than others, but sometimes, we can simply say yes or no and then move on. Decisions that are wise today, will still be wise decisions tomorrow (Lysa Terkeurst)

To close, let me share something that Lysa Teukeurst said. She said, “That daily stuff – those responsibilities that seem more like distractions – those things we want to rush and just get through to get on with the better and bigger assignments of life- those things that are unnoticed places of service? (Think about all you do as a mom. Much of what you do goes unnoticed) They are the very experiences from which we unlock the riches of wisdom. We’ve got to practice wisdom in the everyday places of our lives. Never despise the mundane. Embrace it. Unwrap it like a gift. And be one of the rare few who looks deeper than just the surface. See something more in the everyday. It’s there. We can learn right here, right now, in the midst of all that’s daily how to become wise.”

Friend, we are completely capable of making wise decisions. Choose to place your heart and mind in places where wisdom gathers, and look for God in the midst of it all. He is there, and if you seek Him, He will show you the way to go.

My daughter’s request for a pony . . . we welcomed Sadie Rose into our family a few weeks ago.

Sadie Rose

That decision was hard. I know very little about caring for horses. Yet, when I see the spark within my daughter’s heart come alive when she climbs on that pony’s back, I know. I know we made a wise decision. You can make them too.

 

Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.

 

Dropping Plates

4:30 AM. I was wide awake at 4:30 AM on Thanksgiving day. Why? It wasn’t because I needed to put a turkey in the oven or put finishing touches on a homemade apple pie. (My responsibilities for dinner that day were store bought rolls, a pan of sweet potatoes that might take a whole five minutes to pull together, and a bowl of broccoli salad that might take six.) No, it wasn’t meal preparation that caused me to rise so early. It . . .  was me. It was me and the realization I had early that morning that another Christmas season is upon us.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I have so many wonderful memories from my childhood that include: putting up a real tree, making homemade ornaments, digging though my stocking as we waited for my dad to finish up chores, and getting together with family. I loved it all, and now, as an adult, I am desperately trying to recreate my childhood Christmases for my own kids. I want them to have that one special gift under the tree. I want them to have memories of us decorating the entire house. I want them to remember the time spent with family. I want them to cherish the Christmas season as much as I do. Yet, in my desire to create the “perfect” Christmas, I find myself adding extra tasks to my already full to-do-list. I take more on than I realistically can handle, and it turns my “perfect” Christmas into one that is full of rushing and stress . . . the exact opposite of what I was hoping for. Can you relate?

We do that sometimes. We take on more than we can realistically handle. We fill our schedules so full, leaving little room for rest and little room for those Best Yes assignments that God has for us. How do we balance it all?

Take a moment and check out Kristina Kuzmic’s video entitled “Screw Balance” at http://kristinakuzmic.com/tv-and-videos/.  What can we learn from what she shares?

Simply put, many of us are carrying too many plates.

Finding balance in our lives is not about us figuring out how to efficiently carry all of the plates we have chosen to carry. Friend, we can’t do it all. We weren’t created to do it all. Remember what Ephesians 2:10 tells us? It says, “For we are God’s masterpiece, created in the Messiah Jesus to perform good actions that God prepared long ago to be our way of life.” God prepared things just for us: things that would be our way of life. We were not created to do it all. Give yourself a break. Have the courage to let go of those things that aren’t yours to do. Let go of those things that don’t have to be done. Have the courage to . . . drop some plates.

 

www.kristinakuzmic.com