The Word “No” (A Reader’s Response)

My faithful friend Barb gave me permission to share her experience saying “No.”

“One time I listened to a CD on how to order your home. I listened to it with two friends. At one point they told us to stop the CD and practice saying No and we did. They suggested saying, ‘No, my plate is full.’

“Now I ask my husband to tell me ‘No’ so I can say ‘My husband said no.’ That has helped. But in 2021, I drove my dad and his wife up north from Florida. That caused me to be a horrible driver. I told my husband to remind me the following spring to say No and not offer to drive my dad back up north. My husband replied, ‘I told you not to do it this year.’  I just need to listen to my husband and do what he says.”


The Word “No”

Multiple times, I have been told, “The word ‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

If so, why can’t I stop after I say “No?” Why do I talk myself into a “Yes” or follow my “No” with enough loopholes to allow others to turn my “No” into a “Yes?”

A walking buddy once said, “It’s in the 20s.” I offered to walk when the temperature rose. Another time Mary said, “I can’t walk the two-mile loop today.” I suggested our one-mile route. Weeks later, she said, “You never let me be lazy and accept my ‘No’ to walking.” As a literalist, I didn’t realize she was saying “No” to walking.

What am I learning? If I can’t stop at “No,” I should add, “No, that time is scheduled.” Or “No, I am not available.” That is true even if I plan to read or take a nap. A relative said his go-to is “That doesn’t work for me.”

Why is such a little word so hard to say? Guilt? “No” is not a bad word. Our “No” may give another person the opportunity to say “Yes.”

Are you able to say “No” by just using a “N” and an “O?”

Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Choosing A Pace

Snow is lingering—if not on the ground, then in my mind. I dread its loss. My husband sees its exit as the start of the race season.

Training matters, but winning races involves strategy as much as physical fitness. My husband was not yet a runner when he learned this truth from a collegiate, cross-country roommate.

2014 Kent Island Start Line

Runners have pulled ahead too soon and been unable to maintain their speed. Or withdrawn. Runners have not followed the leaders’ surges and later been unable to close the gap. Runners have won by staying behind before their own late surge.

Pull ahead? Stay with the group? Hang back and wait?

Successful runners know when to leave the pack and when to let the pack leave them.

Along the way, I learned that the same strategies applied to parenting and homeschooling decisions.

Should I stick with standard curricula and goals? Was I falling behind and dragging my children with me if I resisted the latest parenting or homeschooling trends—especially when acquaintances were on an accelerated track? Would matching their pace lead to victory? Or defeat? Our optimal strategy was occasionally unclear.

How do you choose your pace?

Decisions, Family, Friendship

Repaying Evil with Blessing

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

My husband and I memorized 1 Peter 3:9-12 with our Sunday School students in 1988. Later, we taught our own children those verses. I knew they were true because they are God’s Word. However, one afternoon, I especially felt their power.

As I stood on a balcony and gazed at a beautiful view during a vacation opportunity, I Peter 3:9 came to mind.

A favorite spot

When I do as I ought—not repaying evil for evil but rather blessing—God does not owe me anything, but in his mercy, he gives me blessings. That afternoon, I remembered God’s blessings for pursuing peace.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

I Peter 3:12

Remembering lately?

Decisions, Friendship

The Victim Is Not Always The Victim

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear

Isaiah 11:13b (ESV)

I think one of the saddest things I wish I had known was that the victim is not always the victim. Much is hidden that cannot be discerned—even by people who are daily witnesses.

The apparent victim may tell the best story. Or have the most pathetic or sweetest voice. Or an appearance that invokes trust. Or experienced a tragedy. Or a serious illness. Or always makes sure his or her version is told first.

I have been fooled by all the above.

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

Proverbs 18:17

Many times, I did not have an examiner. The version I or a friend heard occurred miles away or years ago. The truth was not discovered until I or another had sympathized with or given aid to an instigator or bully or liar.

I learned along the way to be wary of the “wounded.” They may have been the one wielding a sharp sword.

Have you been misled?