LENT: day 1 : my season of No Thank You.

We had been there a few months when the ASK came.

As the new pastors wife I had been given a season of grace when we first arrived at the church Tom would serve. I was 7 months pregnant with our second child. Something about a woman with a bulging belly and a 2 year old on her hip that sends the message ‘give the lady some space.’ After Jonah was born and it must have appeared on the outside that I was navigating the move into a new community, new baby and 2 1/2 year old fairly well….I got the first ask.

Spring 2000 – trying to hold it all together:)

“Beth – the ladies group felt you would do a beautiful job leading our cradle roll. Would you like the packet of information so you can get started?”

Now- I knew enough about this fantastic ministry to new moms that I simultaneously affirmed IT was wonderful yet me leading IT was NOT. It involves sending prepared cards and encouragement to new moms on regular, planned intervals celebrating different milestones in their new babies life. What a beautiful, important ministry right? But for me – wrong. Friends- lets be clear – my own family doesn’t get birthday cards on time- why in the world would I think this would be a good spot to serve? I knew that a YES would actually end in future disappointment to the ladies group because I would not fulfill the requirements of the job. So with a smile and a thank you for thinking of me…. I replied “No Thank You.”

I’m very certain I left the woman a bit surprised and possibly offended by my response.

The last pastors wife did it….. so why wouldn’t I? Oh the guilt.

This was the first of several ‘no thank you’s’ I dished out my first year at this congregation… including not singing in the choir or teaching children’s Sunday School. I was rocking some boats to be sure. Despite the feathers I may have ruffled ( wow – rocked boats and ruffled feathers- gasp) at church I was protecting something much more important – my ability to serve my family in a season that required much physical and emotional strength. Tom and I had recently made the decision that I would be a full time stay at home mom which meant a lighter schedule for me to be more present with my babies. I was saying No to income, No to much adult interaction and NO to professional stimulation so I could say Yes to energy, time and focus on the 3 little people that now filled our extra bedrooms.

Since that important day some 20 years ago, the day I said NO to protect my bigger YES…I have had an up close and personal view into the struggle that many woman have with the word NO. For the last 15 years I have invested countless hours coaching female entrepreneurs as well as raising children with other mommas that wrestle with the guilt that often accompanies the word ” NO.”

Here are several phrases I’ve seen swimming through the minds of woman.

“I SHOULD do it.”

“What will people think if I dont?”

“What will people think if I do?”

“I’m a stay at home mom so I’ve got more time.”

“I’m a work outside of the home mom so I’ve got more income.”

“I don’t want to burden my hard working husband so I should really be home at bedtime, or on a Saturday…”

The reality of all of these statements is that there is a slice of truth in each of them… but just that … a slice… not the whole.

As I built my business from my home while managing a household of 5 the ability to say NO became even more important.

No to attending every single one of my 3 children’s sporting events, friends birthday parties, or school field trips. I did some – but not all. No to leading a women’s bible study at church that both filled my cup and those of the participants. No to home cooked meals every night.

When I walked through Target with my 3 littles I was a constant stream of No’s. Mom – can I get this stuffed animal? Mom – can we get a snack? Mom – can we go down the toy isle again?.

NO. NO. NO.

The interesting thing about all of the above No’s is that they often opened up to doors for future better Yes’s.

Not attending all my childrens events – created opportunities for an excited play by play from them after the fact. I often felt like the story telling was more exciting than the story living.

Not leading the women’s bible study at church freed up the spot for multiple other competent leaders to use their teaching and leadership gifts.

Not cooking every night opened up creative meal planning and prepping from both Tom and the kids.

Now writing a blog like this can be tricky. It can come off as prescriptive and preachy – both things I really despise and exactly the opposite of what I hope to communicate. There is one thing though… one truth I want to point you to … and it has nothing to do with your decisions to stay home with children or work outside the home. It has nothing to do with how many nights you cook a home cooked meal or how many organizations you support with volunteer hours. It has nothing to do with how elaborate the birthday parties are you or do not throw for your children .

Occasional ice cream for dinner:) This little one is now a healthy, happy 17 year old

No thank you.

My desire is to point you and me….

to Jesus.

He is the one who wants to be the fuel for our decisions, the wisdom for our questions, the strength to stand for what he tells us to do – even when the peanut gallery tells us otherwise. James 1:5 says “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ASK him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him. He will not resent it.” My passion as I mentor women in business or teenagers making decisions about their future, or young moms deciding to nurse or bottle feed… is to help them / me/ you to trust that we have a God that knows our best Yes’s which means we will have to say some hard no’s. He modeled this when he sent his son Jesus to turn a world upside down with the truth of his love in Just 33 short years on earth. Even though he was God – he walked on earth in a human body with all the physical limitations that come with it.

The Savior of the world showed us the power of NO. He left his posse when he needed time alone. He moved on to different cities while there were still sick to be healed. When people asked him to JUMP – he did not say ” How high?” but “let me check with my Father.” He did nothing outside of His Fathers will. Jesus was clear on his mission, which gave him clarity on how to use his time. This gave him the confidence to give hard yes’s and no’s to those around him – especially in the weeks leading up to his death on the cross. Something funny about a hard, fast deadline – our vision narrows, the fog clears and we get on it – whatever that it is. Jesus “it” was to complete the race he had been given to run where the last mile was death on a cross and the victory lap was done outside of his burial tomb.

I will use the next 6 weeks to prepare my heart for Easter Sunday ( the point of Lent – did you know that?). I’m going to take a look at Jesus’ Yes’s and his NO’s. I want to learn from his life and his words and his wisdom. I invite you to join me ….. and of course you can always say…

No Thank You:)

“Come get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”JESUS . Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Concordia MO. Thankful for a big No from God that lead us here

9 thoughts on “LENT: day 1 : my season of No Thank You.

  1. Hi, Beth! As you are aware, chronic Lyme disease has curtailed my being able to participate much as a member of Prince of Peace. It has been 12 years since I became chronically ill! I have had to say “No!” more times than I can count to so many opportunities, including attending church services. I still have huge issues with sounds of certain frequencies especially in enclosed spaces. The organ and praise band cause unbearable discomfort. Vertigo attacks occur in response to loud noise and to bright or flashing lights. And, chronic pain plagues my body 24-7. I am GRATEFUL for the interim pastor (Pastor Keith who has moved on to serve another church) and the substitute pastor (Pastor Mau) who have been visiting me once a month for over a year. They have shared their ministries and communion with me. About a year and a half ago, Pastor Keith asked me if I would do the cradle roll and, for once, I said, “Yes!” It was a way to serve the Lord while at home! The Prince of Peace congregation is fairly small with only a few young families, but I have had the privilege of serving as the cradle roll coordinator for the babies/young children of 3 different families to date. It does require organization and I am blessed that my main responsibilities are limited to taking care of my mom, taking care of my husband and house, and regularly doing at-home and in-clinic Lyme treatments. (Oh, and taking care of my sweet pooch, Gracie!) I am able to manage doing the cradle roll….so far. I remember when you and your family first arrived at Prince of Peace and I frequently thought about how much you were juggling. You always were gracious, kind and helpful. I really appreciated the Bible studies that you led. You were my inspiration to do more to serve Jesus. You were and are a blessing to me. May God continue to guide and bless you as you continue your life’s journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH MY GOODNESSS!!!!!! I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me to know YOU are the cradle roll leader for POP – perfect! What a blessing that you can serve God and his people in the midst of your struggles. I am so encouraged by your life Cathy – what beautiful memories studying God’s word together in the POP conference room. Continue to keep shining Cathy – you are beautiful and bright!!!

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  2. Beth, it’s great to be a part of your teaching & sharing on this blog.
    I love James 1:5 and the reminder that Jesus is the one who wants to be the fuel for our decisions, the wisdom for our questions & the strength for what he tells us to do.
    Thank you for taking the time to organize this time together and including me🤗🙏💙

    Liked by 1 person

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