Yes and No

“Every yes is a no to something else.”

I don’t know exactly who said it first, but it’s the kind of thing you see in articles on productivity and time management and it’s giving me something to think about.

After more than a year of pausing and waiting, it’s temping to jump back onto the hamster wheel of busyness and do all the things! And yet the lessons I’ve learned about capacity, time and priorities are helping me to pause and count the cost of my yes with some important questions:

  • What has the Lord put in front of me right now to invest my time and energy into?
  • What do I need to say yes to this season? In this day? This moment?

Last night I said yes to a short break in the middle of my evening to-dos and and no to an early bedtime. This morning we said yes to rest and creative play and no to a nature hike. Tomorrow’s plans may be a yes to adventure and a no to home projects that need to get done. Sometimes the no’s are difficult ones, but I am trusting that these are simply a yes to something else that the Lord is unfolding in my life and the life of our family at that moment.

As our daily rhythms intertwine with the unexpected and the upcoming fall season takes shape, I’m praying for wisdom to choose well. I’m so thankful that Jesus knows me better than I know myself and that I can trust Him to work in and through each season and each day! 

May the lessons we’ve learned from the past year and a half mark our future decisions. We don’t have to run ourselves ragged! The badge of busyness can quickly turn into chains. Praise the Lord that we have permission to pause and consider just what we are saying yes to, and what the implications are. If these choices feel big, that’s because in some senses, they are. Life is made up of a series of little moments that shape the bigger moments we experience. Isn’t God so gracious? He is walking with us through it all. We need His wisdom to learn how to make the most of the time He has given us and the courage to live for His glory.

James 1:5 (NIV) — 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Image: Artsy Crafty/Stocksnap

Why We Need Wisdom

You have permission to say “No”.

You have permission to say “Yes”.

But only you can make that decision.

When you’re a capable, can-do woman, typically you’re not lacking in opportunity to get involved in a variety of different things.

And when you’re a capable, can-do woman, sometimes you fall for the lie that you only matter because you’re involved in a variety of different things.

When I was starting my radio career as a young adult, I got the fantastic opportunity to host a morning show in a medium market Canadian city. I knew it meant waking up before dawn to plan and prepare a show day after day for our listeners. And I knew it meant giving up my evenings so I could go to bed early to have the energy to do a great show every day.

That in itself is a big job. But when I arrived on the scene, I realized there was no promotions department. So I pioneered one with no budget.

At first, I was thriving! I loved the challenge of hosting the show, creating promotions and going to events. I loved meeting new people and building connections. But slowly, over time, the schedule took its toll on me.

Early morning wake-ups coupled with 60 hour work weeks left me weary. I mistakenly believed I was irreplaceable and suffered dearly for it. My mood took a downward turn, my outlook on life became dark and my heart was very sad.

One day, out of sheer exhaustion, I handed in my resignation. To my surprise, instead of accepting it the station manager asked me to take a week off to think about my decision and get some rest.

I traveled to another city for some recuperation with family, but on the drive home I couldn’t stop crying. I loved my job, but my job wasn’t loving me back. And I was terrified at the thought of returning to the same exhausting life I had built for myself.

It wasn’t long before the resignation was back on the manager’s desk.

About a month later, I quit the job for real and spent the summer at my parents’ farm. Being the young, independent woman that I was, returning home wasn’t an easy pill to swallow.

Thankfully, summers on the farm were my favourite especially because of the wild storms, and one storm in particular made a big impact on me.

I remember sleeping on the couch one night as this one blew through. The lightning and thunder were non-stop; the wind drove the rain against the house with such force that I thought the windows would break. I could hear the huge tree branches creaking. Would they survive? Wide awake until the ear-splitting thunder became a few rumbles in the distance, I watched as the lightning continued long after. My eyes were fixed on the windows, looking for the next flash. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I saw was the light of the rising sun.

I went outside to survey the damage. The ground was littered with leaves and branches and the crops were flat in places. Even the sturdiest tree looked worse for wear.

Thinking about it now, I can see how my own experience with overcommitment was much like that wicked summer storm, leaving a trail of damage in its wake. It took a long time before I was even willing to entertain the idea of returning to the airwaves, and an even longer time before I was ready to.

Burnout is a tough lesson in learning to say “no” to finding my identity in anything but Jesus.

This fall, as the opportunities come your way, weigh each one against your priorities and give yourself the gift of saying no to anything that does not fit inside the limits of the season God has placed you in.

The best part? He will give you the wisdom you need when you ask for it.


Image: Duncan Maloney

Dear 18-Year-Old Me

18 year old me1

Dear 18 year old Me,

Can I just tell you something?

Everything is going to be okay.

No really, it is.

I know right now you’re consumed with the future – how it’s all going to play out, what you should do next, and how you can achieve your dreams and goals.

You want to run headfirst into all the things, find someone to share it with, and live your happily ever after.

There will be amazing things to celebrate, but there will also be some things that bring you pain. In both circumstances, you have a choice – you can either run away by distracting yourself with the temporary pleasures all around, or you can dig deep, hold fast, and find true rest in the arms of the One who gave His life for you and trust Him to bring healing and growth in your life.

I know you’re not into being told what to do, so I will just leave you with a little story from John 6.

Jesus had done the miracle of feeding the crowds with real food, but then begins to teach something that is very hard for the disciples to understand: He teaches that He is the food that feeds our souls and brings us eternal life. He mentions how their ancestors ate manna in the desert, but that He is the bread that will feed them forever. Some couldn’t get their heads around it and were so disturbed by the teaching that they walked away.

Watch what happens next:

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:67-69 (NIV)

When you feel like throwing in the towel, let these words ring in your heart: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Cling to the only One who can truly sustain you.

I love you. Don’t give up! You’re doing great.

Hugs and kisses,

-your future self

I Need a Do-Over

Saturday, 8pm.

I need a do-over.

The last half of this day didn’t exactly go as I was hoping. Things just kept coming up that weren’t in the plan, you know? Conflict. Cranky baby. Crazy kids. And then, the broken sink.

Feels like the past 12 hours were a total write-off! My heart is heavy tonight and I am struggling to remember if there was, in fact, anything good about this day. It’s easy to let times like this make me feel like a failure.

Then I remember Grover’s bad day.

Once I was reading a Sesame Street book to the kids about Grover having a bad day. Everything went wrong for him. He was late for playgroup, he forgot his lunch and the other monsters wouldn’t let him play football! And after school, he dropped his ice cream on the ground.

When he got home, his mom asked him how his day was and he just crumpled into her lap and told her all the things that had gone wrong. Then she said something that stuck with me: “Don’t let a bad day make you feel bad about yourself.”

How easy is it to take a tough day and turn it into a test of our competence? Those feelings of failure can seep into our hearts, making it difficult to be thankful for the things we have right in front of us. Whenever I feel like this I remember something my husband came up with about a year ago. I was having a similar kind of moment where all I wanted to do was grumble with a capital G every day all day long. It was becoming a pattern for me – a default attitude that needed to go.

“What can I do?” I asked.

“How about this: every day, find two different ways to worship God, help someone, and write down twenty things to be thankful for,” he suggested. “And each day’s list has to be different than the day before.”

“Twenty things!?” I raised an eyebrow. It was a good idea, but I was skeptical.

The first two parts came easily – the worshipping and the helping. And then, the list. I thought, There’s no way I can write down twenty things to be thankful for! But I’ll try.

Numbers one through five were the regular things you thank God for – family, shelter, provision and such. As the list grew, I began to dig a bit deeper into the things that I had in my life to be grateful for. The higher I counted, the more my attitude shifted. By number twenty, I was thanking the Lord for the difficult day itself, because I realized days like this really help me grow in ways I can’t even see at the time.

Back to Saturday night. Was there anything in this day to be thankful for? Of course there was!

A visit to the store with our cutie pie kids!

Lunch and lively conversation with friends.

A teenage niece who likes to babysit our girls so we could enjoy said lunch kid-free (besides the baby)!

Hearing our girls playing together with such incredible imagination and creativity.

Baby smiles and chatter that literally melted my heart and filled me with joy.

And my husband! Hearts-for-eyes for that guy, I’ll tell you! Just all the things about him!

Well, I think I just found my do-over.


Count your blessings

Name them one by one

Count your many blessings

See what God has done!

leaves and shoes


We who are in the thick of it…

This one is for the mamas of littles.

We who are in the thick of it, neck-deep in diapers and finger rhymes, early readers and mad monkey bar skills.

There is something incredible about this early stage of motherhood. It brings you to the edge of yourself and then gives you a little tap, sending you flying over into the arms of Jesus. It strengthens you in areas you didn’t know you were weak, it smooths the edges you didn’t know were so sharp, it softens your hard heart and brings stunning moments of beauty out of what otherwise feels mostly like chaos.

And all of that takes an amazing amount of time and brain space. It’s really easy to lose yourself in it as the days of “eat, play, poop, sleep, repeat” turn into weeks and months. Sleep deprivation takes its toll. There’s only so much time, and slowly, things you once loved start falling to the side. Besides, you’ll pick them back up in a few years when the kids don’t need you anymore.

Enter the mom-guilt.

Some of us feel guilty for popping out to grab a coffee with a friend. Some of us feel guilty for going back to work. Some of us feel guilty for not planning out an entire day’s worth of brain-enriching activities, with a hundred healthy snacks and meals and endless time for reading with our kids.

Some of us simply struggle with doing anything that remotely resembles something just for us. We are waiting until the right time, for things to be perfect, so we can relax and do our thing without interruption or distraction.

After just seven years of parenting, here’s what I’m coming to realize. Although the way my kids need me will change, they will never really stop needing their mom.

I know because I have never stopped needing mine.

We will always be in each other’s lives, affecting each other’s lives.

Our kids will always need us, just in different ways, and in different seasons.

We know it won’t always be like it is now. One day our littles will not need us to help them go potty or learn to use a spoon. There will be more space for our careers, our interests and our passions to take flight into incredible achievements. There will be time for all the things we once dreamed of doing.

One gorgeous autumn afternoon, we’ll see the sun shining through the window into our clean living rooms and envision the exact toys that were once scattered there. We’ll see our counters free of crumbs and remember days like today, when all manner of Cheerios and cheese bits are waiting to be wiped up. We’ll have a moment of wishing for just one more snuggle and one more tickle fight and one more belly laugh and one more game of chase-the-toddler down the hall for a bath.


And then we’ll remember that they are soaring into their own adventures with all the spit and vinegar of youth! And we’ll cheer them on as they learn and grow.

And that means we’ll always be learning how to strike the balance between pouring ourselves out for our families and taking the time and space we need to tend to our own hearts.

Once I was talking to a woman with a large family who was going through a divorce after two decades of marriage. My heart broke as she shared her story. While she spoke, she said something that struck me:  “You know when the flight attendant says in the event of an emergency to put your own oxygen mask on before you help someone else with theirs? That’s really important. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your family. I didn’t do that. I should have done that.”

Sometimes the daily grind feels, well, very grind-y, pushing us beyond our limits and making us feel drained.

There is wisdom in recognizing when we really do need take a break for our own sake and the sake of our family.

Around Mother’s Day this year, my eldest daughter asked me what I was into.  I think she was making a list of ideas for gifts or something.

“Daddo loves Star Trek and sharks. What do you love, Mama?”

“Hmm,” I said. I searched my very tired brain for a moment, but it was blank.  Pregnancy exhaustion was filling every inch of my mind and heart. “Well, I like cool mugs. And fun journals.”

She bounced away, happy with the reply, but the question stuck with me. What do I love?  What were my interests and the things that made me feel happy?

I was too tired to remember, and for very good reason. My life is very full! Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I can very easily become overwhelmed and depleted if I don’t stay on top of the basics.

Extra sleep.

A hot shower.

Good food.

Getting outside in the sunshine.


Connecting with the Lord in prayer, worship and Bible reading.

A date with my hubby.

Talking with friends.

Space to do something I love.

Time actually playing with the kids.

In  my first years of parenting, it took alot for me to ask for help — even from my husband! I thought, “I chose this, no one is going to do it for me.” And we all suffered for it. With my third daughter, everything changed. About two weeks after she was born, we discovered she had a rare condition that required close monitoring with many tests, appointments and medication – and I simply could not do it all on my own. My mom came to help, not to mention the amazing church friends and other family that stood by us and helped us through a time when we really needed them.

Here’s the thing – when I’m feeling like I need a break, I have learned to tell someone. Even if I feel silly, or like I don’t matter anyway, or like I’m being a burden —  I tell my brain to be quiet, and then I tell someone how I’m feeling.

It’s my first step in finding a bit of balance.

You matter.

Your family loves you and needs you.


A refreshed mama is an amazing mama. There will be time for big things later if we make time for the little things now.