The Courageous No

Ugh. Looking at our family calendar was giving me a headache. And a slightly sick-to-my-stomach feeling. How did so many things creep onto one page?

Then I saw the tiny square that said Christmas. Nothing else was written around the word. The rest of the space was empty.

I could hear a soul-soothing Hallelujah Chorus floating gently through the air. Beautiful. Like the calendar was forcing me to pause, rest, and focus on the real reason. The main attraction. THE GIFT of the season.

But the more I looked at that one joyous blank square, the more my mind tossed and turned. The reality of that one little space in a vast sea of busyness prickled at my heart.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that I was a slave to my schedule. Sleep-deprived, yes. For years now. But over-scheduled, no.

But there it was. In black and white. My schedule was officially controlling me rather than me controlling the schedule.

schedule graphicLooking at one’s calendar can be tricky business this time of year. Adding in just enough festivity with the appropriate amounts of service and rest can seem like an impossibility. Not to mention an impracticality.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve been pouring over blogs talking about the proper Yes and No. You’ve been listening to podcasts on creating a clutter-free holiday. And maybe, just maybe, you went a little crazy this last year and hungrily devoured the book by Lysa TerKeurst on seeking out your Best Yes … which you read faithfully … twice, in fact.

We know the mantra. The drumbeat. Beauty is lost in the hustle and the bustle. It has etched its way into our brains. So much so, it has become like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon. You know, the one you can tell is talking but you can’t understand a single word she’s saying because of the trombone effect:Wah. Wah. Wah. Wah. Wah. Wah.”

Our days are spent running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Our evenings are spent planning and wrapping and taping and baking rather than soaking in the wonder of the season.

Maybe it’s time we learned to say NO. For real. Graciously. Firmly. Resolutely.

We can say NO to extra activities. (Unless they involve chocolate and we really want to partake.)

We can say NO to traditions steeped in guilt. (Just because we’ve done something every other year since our children were born does not mean we have to do it again this year.)

We can say NO to being the solution for everyone else’s schedule problems. (Unless we feel God is prompting us to carve out the time to do it.)

We can say NO to spending extra time and resources on making our home and children Facebook/Insta-/Pin-worthy. (For God looks at our actual hearts, not the social media version.)

Instead, we’ll prioritize. We’ll choose to be purposeful. We will courageously embrace that which brings health to our bodies and health to our souls.

We’ll say YES to God’s plan.

We’ll say YES to what He has for us today. And next week. And next year.

We’ll say YES to quality time with our people.

We’ll say YES to the silly. And we will purpose to laugh more.

We’ll say goodbye to guilt and unnecessary stress. And hello to refreshment.

This season, let’s soak in His grace and smother our hearts in His goodness. For there is beauty to be found in the No. But we must be courageous enough to seek it out.

The Courageous No (The Masterpiece Mom)

What will you say “No” to this December? Your words might be just the thing our over-scheduled hearts need to hear. Thanks in advance for your courage in sharing! xo


Anne-Renee Gumley

Anne-Renee is a full-time mom who works part-time at her family's party store. She has two children who keep her laughing, a husband who keeps her smiling, and an itch for writing that just won't go away.

Latest posts by Anne-Renee Gumley (see all)

About Anne-Renee Gumley

Anne-Renee is a full-time mom who works part-time at her family’s party store. She has two children who keep her laughing, a husband who keeps her smiling, and an itch for writing that just won’t go away.


  1. Great post. As always, you offer wisdom and wit in such generous portions. Thank you for being women of depth and joy.

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