How to Say “No” Graciously

I was chatting on social media with a friend—let’s call her Angelica—and asked if she wanted to help me with a project. She replied, “No.”

Then she added, “But thank you for asking me.”

I admit I was briefly taken aback. Moments before, Angelica had just agreed to help me with a different task, one that was related to the latest idea I had suggested. However, the second idea would be more of an ongoing commitment, and she said, “No.”

I told Angelica that I respected her decision and thought it was great that she felt comfortable saying “no.”  She said that “old age” had helped her with this–I responded “not old age…maturity.”

All you need to say is simply “Yes,” or “No.” Anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37 NIV

“No” is one of the hardest words to say. Why?

  • We like to be liked, and a “no” can be disappointing to others.
  • We want to be positive, and “no” comes across as negative.
  • We are afraid of missing out on great opportunities.

However, if we don’t say this word enough, we can end up disillusioned, disappointed or exhausted.

There are ways to say no graciously and effectively. Angelica did it. Here’s how:

She understood her life.

Angelica was able to discern pretty quickly whether my request would fit into her current season of life. That tells me she was keeping an informed perspective of her opinions, commitments and relationships.

She gave an immediate answer.

Angelica didn’t hesitate or string me along. It made the outcome quick and relatively painless.

That’s not to say that we should always answer quickly. It’s completely appropriate to tell someone you want to think about it, IF you give them the courtesy of a self-imposed deadline. For example, she could have said, “I’d like to think about this. Can I give you my answer Friday?” and then be sure to give the answer on Friday or before. It wasn’t necessary in this case because of her confidence in her decision, but if she needed a little time, that would have been fine.

She thanked me.

Angelica understood that it is an honor to be invited to participate in an event or project. The requester is somewhat vulnerable when extending the invitation, risking rejection. By saying “thank you” she acknowledged that she appreciated being considered, which softens any possibility of coming across as rejecting the person doing the inviting.

She didn’t give an explanation.

Angelica gave a simple “No, thank you.” She did not feel compelled to explain or rationalize her decision. I admire that. I tend to provide more information than necessary and would do well to just provide a simple answer more often.

“No” isn’t easy to say, but it often makes your life easier!

Question: Do you find it difficult to say “no?” Have you ever responded as Angelica did? How did that work for everyone involved? If you are not already at the site while reading this, please visit the blog to comment using Facebook or Disqus. Your comments help the blog grow. Please don’t say “no.” <smile>

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Coffee Break Bible Study: Matthew 16-20




Read Matthew 16:

How does Peter affirm his faith in this chapter?

Referencing verses 24-25, what does it mean to you to “take up your cross?”



Read Matthew 17.

Write out verse 8. How does that touch you today? 

What does Jesus teach about taxes in verses 24-27?


CA-Jesus and Children





Read Matthew 18.

According to this chapter, how should we treat children?

What is the guidance in verses 15-20 regarding conflicts among Christians? 







Read Matthew 19.

How does God look at marriage?

How do you think Jesus interacted with children? 


Read Matthew 20.

What do we learn from the parable of the workers? 


What does the Lord require of someone who wants to be great?


I appreciate your comments (press the comment button below or if receiving this by email or feed, visit the site to comment) and sharing these studies with your friends.hope leaves

Four Lessons I Learned from a Botched Hand of Cards

It was the 10th round of a card game, one where the goal was to build a set of five and a set of three. I had my set of three, with two 2’s and a wild. Now I was concentrating on building a set of five. I had four eights and three nines and went back and forth in trying to build up the eights or nines, to no avail.

(Some of you may be able to predict what is coming.)

I already had my set of three and set of five, if I’d only moved the wild card.

Once it was pointed out to me, I laid my head down on the table in good-hearted disgust with myself. But I learned some important lessons from that one “badly played hand,” lessons that go beyond a game.

I was fixated on one solution.
I had in my mind that one part of the problem was solved, and I had only to concentrate on the other part in order to finish. By limiting my focus what I thought was the only “fix,” I missed the fact that the solution to the whole problem was right in front of me.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Matthew 14:15-17

I didn’t allow the wild card to use its potential.
That wild card was my key to freedom. If I would have just released that card to shine in another area, the entire hand would have been completed. Are there people or processes in my life that I like to keep in a box and not consider their potential to fill another need very well? 

I limited my view.
I arranged things a certain way and didn’t step back to view the hand from the wider angle. This is rather funny because one of my strengths can be to see the “big picture.”  However, in the last few years I’ve become much more detailed, swinging the pendulum too far the other way in some cases. In limiting my view to one way to play the hand, I missed out on a potential win.

I was trying to tackle the problem at the wrong time.
This last round was getting close to my bedtime. My mind was also occupied with other details. I wasn’t at my best when looking at the issue. I realized through this that sometimes, it’s good to step away from a problem and look at it again at another time. Unlike the time limitation in the game, many problems don’t have to be solved immediately, or in their entirety.

Recommendation: Phase 10 is a fun, adaptable card game for friends and family.

Question: How about you? What has an experience with a game taught you about life? Join the conversation by clicking on the “comment” button below. If you are receiving this post by email, feed or social media, visit the blog and tell us what you’ve learned!


Time Management Strategies for Stressed-Less Living

Beth will teach a workshop at this conference, sharing 10 ways you can reduce your stress by effectively managing your time.

See conference website for full details on times, keynote speaker Liz Curtis Higgs and other breakout sessions.

Date: March 29, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. (Beth's workshop)
Event: Take Heart Ministries Conference
Topic: Time Management Strategies for Stressed-Less Living
Sponsor: Take Heart Ministries
Venue: Buncombe Street United Methodist Church
Location: 200 Buncombe St
Greenville, SC 29601
United States
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

Coffee Break Bible Study: Matthew 11-15

Read Matthew 11.

Matthew 11

Why did Jesus speak so strongly to the unrepentant cities?

How do verses 28-30 impact you right now, today?



Read Matthew 12.Matthew 12

What are some Sabbath thoughts that come to you from the early part of this chapter?

In verses 33-37 Jesus tells us that we will know people “by their fruit.” What type of fruit are people seeing in you?

Read Matthew 13.Matthew 13

What do you learn from the parable of the sower?

After reading verse 44, what are you willing to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God?


Read Matthew 14.Matthew 14

Here Jesus feeds 5000. What characterizes Jesus’ attitude?

What do you think of Peter’s act of stepping out onto the water?


Read Matthew 15:CA-loaves fishes

What do you think was Jesus’ point early in chapter 15?

How did the Gentile woman exhibit great faith?


I appreciate your comments (press the comment button below or if receiving this by email or feed, visit the site to comment) and sharing these studies with your friends.

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5 Ways (Some) Multi-tasking Can Work for You

The concept of multi-tasking is getting a bum rap. Articles such as this one are telling us that we are not as effective when we multi-task. We are being told to slow down, focus on one thing at a time, and not over-commit ourselves. That’s great advice–but it’s harder for some to implement than you think. What if your personality is one that thrives on having several things going at once and being fast paced? 

As a seasoned multi-tasker (seasoned meaning I’ve been doing it for a long time, not that it is always succcessful for me) I am challenged by this new wave of thinking (some call it “uni-tasking.”) However, I have my doubts that swinging the time management pendulum from one extreme to the other is the best way to go. I think there is a middle-ground that can be a healthy place.

Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other.

Nehemiah 4:17b NIV

The idea of multi-tasking is to have several things going on at once. The idea of single, or uni, tasking is to focus on one thing at a time. Let me pitch to you a compromise: complementary multi-tasking. This approach embraces doing two (or possibly more) things at once, but being intentional that they complement each other, not distract from one another. Common sense and safety are key components of this idea.

When you are planning your “to-do” list, ask yourself the following questions to see if you can apply complementary multi-tasking to your list. (For the sake of simplicity, we will consider planning two complementary tasks, although sometimes you could plan three or more.)

1. Are there two tasks that can be done in the same general vicinity? For example, making sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch while waiting for water to boil for tonight’s spaghetti works better than leaving the kitchen to check email in another room.

2. Is one task relatively hands-off and one hands-on?  While a new software program is downloading, I can organize one drawer in my desk.

3. Can two things be going simultaneously, safely? My laundry can be drying while I work on a blog post.

4. Could I mix a mindless “task” opportunity with a “people” opportunity?  With the help of a phone earpiece, I can fold laundry while talking to a friend, which would be better than trying to answer email while also talking with her on the phone.

5. Will doing these two tasks at the same time add cause more mental fatigue or less?  Listening to a podcast or some music while cooking may help pass the time nicely, while trying to help your child with homework while also preparing a meal can become frustrating for both of you.

So before jumping on the bandwagon that all multi-tasking is ineffective or wrong, consider that complementary multi-tasking may be the way to accomplish two important tasks without driving yourself crazy.

Question: What are two tasks that you can do at the same time without misusing the idea of multi-tasking? Join the conversation by commenting!

Recommendation: Share this post with a friend today!hope leaves



Coffee Break Bible Study: Matthew 6-10


Logos Biblia Verse of the Day

Read Matthew 6.

Why is it important not to advertise our charitable deeds?


Take some time to pray the Lord’s prayer as written in this chapter.


Read Matthew 7.

Logos Biblia Verse of the Day

Logos Biblia Verse of the Day


What does Jesus tell us about judging others?  How does this correspond with verses 15-20 where He talks about knowing people by their fruits?

How can you continue to build your life on the “rock?”



Read Matthew 8.


How did the Centurion demonstrate faith?

In verse 26, why did Jesus scold the disciples about their lack of faith?





Read Matthew 9.


Logos Biblia Verse of the Day

What would you have said if Jesus came up to you in the midst of your daily life and said, “Follow Me?”

Write your thoughts about one of the miracles Jesus performs here.




Read Matthew 10.

Logos Biblia Verse of the Day

Logos Biblia Verse of the Day

What are some of the instructions Jesus gives to His disciples as He sends them out to minister to others?

What do you think verse 34 means?





When commenting, indicate what day’s questions you are answering. You don’t have to write the question out again.

If you enjoy learning how to apply Scripture to your life, the Life Application Study Bible is a great tool.
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Organizing From the Heart Workshop with Beth Beutler and Karina Whisnant

This workshop will be a mix of lecture and interaction/exercises to help the student look at the idea of organizing from a new perspective. We will incorporate Scripture and practical tips to motivate and encourage students to Organize from the Heart.


Date: January 26, 2014
Time: 5:30pm-7:45pm
Event: Organizing From the Heart Workshop
Topic: Organizing From the Heart
Sponsor: Brookwood Church
Venue: Brookwood Church
Location: 580 Brookwood Point Place
Simpsonville 29681
United States
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Books will be available.

From Margin to HOPE: Words of the Years

My word of the year for 2013 was “Margin.”  I had read the book of that title and also was working through the devotional version. The idea of focusing on margin was to incorporate more space into life, give myself margin for error, etc. Did it happen? Yes and no.

Margin did occur in my life, in part unexpectedly due to a vocational change that occurred in late summer. For the past few months, I’ve been in a season that has fewer appointments and responsibilities, and it’s been both welcome and challenging. It’s giving me time to think about things related to life and career, and has also, to be honest, been an opportunity to get a little discouraged and yet think about what my perspective really should be.

As for margin for error, I did not do well allowing myself this grace. I spent several anxious moments this year emotionally, over-evaluating certain scenarios and living in unreasonable fears, taking far too much responsibility for some things.  In the last few weeks, I am feeling the shackles of guilt diminishing, and I want to go into 2014 with hope and a more joyful outlook that looks to God for my complete satisfaction first before any relationship or vocation.

So my word for 2014 is HOPE.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV 

There are several reasons for this:

  •  My small business of writing, speaking and consulting is officially named H.O.P.E. Unlimited. Since I re-launched this blog officially on January 1, 2014, it seems appropriate to use the word “HOPE” for this year.
  • In my business, H.O.P.E. stands for “helping other people excel.” This year, I want to develop more of a sincere desire to be helpful and encouraging to others no matter what tangible results may come to me.
  • On a personal note, the word HOPE is bright, cheerful and expectant. That’s the kind of person I want to be. Some may think I already am like that, but I know that internally I have often fallen short of feeling that demeanor. This year, I’d like to BE it inside more.

HOPE is also going to be a map of focus on four areas in my life:

H – Habits –  What habits needs to be solidified this year? Are there any new habits to form? How can I be intentional and realistic about what habits I need to add or change and how would these decisions move me toward positive outcomes?

O – Opinion – Are my opinions based on a biblical perspective? How do I appropriately form them? When should I share them? When should I refrain? (I’m very active on social media, a hotbed of opinions, and need to navigate it sensibly and graciously.)

P – Perspective  – Am I looking at things in a godly, biblical way? Do I keep a positive, grateful outlook? Can I gracefully help others do so, too?

E – Engagement – Can I be more intentional in how I engage with others, being more interested in serving them than myself? What healthy boundaries should I have in relationships? Who should I introduce into my circle of friends and how should I use social media?

The transition from margin to hope is a sensible, and practical one. I don’t plan to give up one in favor of the other, but let hope grow in part from the margin in my life.


Question: Do you have a word for 2014? Share it in the comments!

My thanks to Melanie at Only a Breath for providing the “one word” graphics in 2013 and 2014. 

Recommendation: Either of the first two books would be a good study on incorporating margin into your life. I am also currently working through the Whispers of Hope book.  hope leaves