The Art Of Saying No

One of the best single piece of advice I have ever gotten was this: “You can do anything but you can’t do everything.”

This was given to me by one of the mentors at Seattle Pacific University, at registration day. The context was talking about the many opportunities we were going to have as students and how to pick and choose the opportunities that made the most sense for us.

This advice has kept with me, even 13 years after receiving it. As I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to have so many opportunities, whether it be volunteer opportunities, sports, gaming, tutoring jobs, math teaching jobs, even got offered a social media marketing position at a gaming company once.

All that being said, even though many of these opportunities were good, they may have not been the right thing at the right time. I believe wisdom is doing the right thing for the right reasons, and it’s hard to dial that in if we are always saying “yes” to every opportunity.

My tendency growing up has been to try and fill my life and time with every good opportunity that I come across. However, this often has lead to burnout, stress, and ultimately, anxiety. 

I like to say that I may have time to do all these things, but not the brain space. There’s always “time” to do things, but that doesn’t mean your brain and heart can mentally and emotionally handle all these things.

It also depends on each person and what they and their family can handle. I’m a person that when I commit to something, I put forth 150% of effort into it. I go above and beyond what is expected and try to become the best person I can be in that role.

Because of this, I can only commit to X amount of things at the same time in my life. I’m not a person who can do 10 things and only do them at 50%. I’m someone that wants to do 3 things and do them very, very well.

Now that I know this about myself, I have to say no to a lot of opportunities. Many of those opportunities I would have jumped into just a few years ago. But I’ve learned the art of saying no.

And that’s hard. It fills me with stress and anxiety sometimes that I made the wrong decision, but then I realized, where God has me right now, is where I’m supposed to be. 

I think the reason why it’s hard for me to say no sometimes is I don’t want people to think I’m lazy. That is the one thing I don’t want people to ever think about me. So I push myself so hard sometimes that I just crash and burn. Social media does not help. People might see “Oh she’s at the coffee shop again being lazy” but they don’t know that I’m forming friendships and relationships at the coffee shop. I’m creating content for the coffee shop Instagram and creating content for my own website. I might be planning for AWANA or coordinating with my 3-4 different groups I interact with each week.

So I have to forget what people might think on Instagram. That’s not my full life! I also think and plan all the time. Just this morning, I had to reign in my thoughts for the week. I like to plan nearly every hour of my week. So now, I’ve been trying to force myself to do rest days and not to plan something for every week. Like today, Saturday, we have one thing on the schedule. That gives me the ability to do a bunch of different things, whether it’s relaxing with a video game or writing a blog. 

I also am the main coordinator of my friend groups. I’m the one that sends out the reminder for board game night, coordinate climbing schedules, AWANA leaders, family events and more. I’ve always done this, even in college I was the main bridge with all the different groups we did homework and hung out with.

That’s another reason I have to say no sometimes. Because I fully invest in the friendships and relationships in any aspect I dwell in. If I’m at the climbing gym, it’s not just a workout, but it’s me being a listening ear to a friend’s health issues. It’s encouraging the kid whose trying to make the team. It’s giving feedback to the routesetters to their routes.

Same thing in any thing I do. And so I have learned for myself. To commit to those things that are really important. There’s a lot of great things one can do in their life. And each season is different too! Passions change. Opportunities change. People change. You change as you grow older. 

So I guess the lesson is: don’t be afraid to say no. Seek out wise people in your life to help you make decisions. Pray and seek God’s Word. Know your limits. And you will be much more joyful, at peace, and have the energy to do what you’re called to do. 

Cutting the Costs

Money. It’s the driving point of our culture and if we aren’t careful, can become the center of our lives. Many of us will experience feast and famine whether it’s in relation to money, friendships, or time. When it comes to money, it’s so important to always track how much you spend and to have a budget. That way, if money does get tight, you are able to immediately think of several things to cut back. 

My husband and I are very passionate about budgeting. Having a strict budget right when we got married meant that we could pay off my school loans, save for a house, and set ourselves up for when we had our kid. And now, even though we are wealthier, we still keep to a budget. And we know exactly the things we would cut back if anything happened.

While this may not apply to everyone, basically you can just insert “whatever you spend money on unessential items” here and prioritize what really matters. 

Here are several ways to cut back on costs that should be easy for most people.


Not everyone spends 5 bucks a day on a traditional cappuccino with coconut milk, but whether it’s coffee, alcohol, or kombucha, you may find you spend quite a bit each day or month in drinks you can make at home or work. I love spending time at the coffee shop, but if money was tight, I wouldn’t get coffee there every day. And if I did want to have coffee, I would opt for a brewed coffee instead of a latte or cappuccino.

Alternate: Make coffee at home. It’s cheap and that way you can make it however you want. Don’t feel like you need an expensive espresso machine. Pour over or French Press coffee makers are 10-20 dollars and make very delicious coffee for a very cheap price!

Eating out

Eating out can get expensive. I’m out and about in town most of the day before I get my son from school. That means I’m usually getting a Jamba Juice or another meal out. 

Alternate: Make lunch at home if you work! Bring it along. Most people can eat a 2-3 dollar meal if made at home, instead of 10-20 dollars out for lunch. If your coworkers go out a lot for lunch and invite you along, then try happy hour menus or tell them you can go once a month.


Most people nowadays are cutting the cable, as it’s so expensive. However, keep track of how much you spend on subscriptions. Between Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Spotify, Apple Music, etc it can add up as much as cable. If you really enjoy watching TV, find the one subscription you like and keep to that. Also, going to the movies can add up, so see if any of your local theaters have 5 dollar nights and other such deals. 

Alternate: YouTube has so much content for free. Sure you have to watch ads, but you do even with paid subscriptions. If you have a DVD Player, go to Goodwill and find some cheap movies. Growing up, we had two channels. ABC and CBS. We would find VHS on the cheap and have movie nights every Friday with our pizza.


Are you the member of three different gyms and two wine clubs? If money was tight, I would definitely have to dial back any memberships I was apart of. That being said, having a fitness or gym membership can be fruitful, as exercise does do so much for health and stress relief. 

Alternate: Find a free or cheap way to exercise or have fun. Look up free events in your city such as a concert or Yoga group. If having a gym membership is the only way you stay sane and in shape, then make sure to get the cheapest membership and make it worthwhile. 

Cell phones/Devices

In our social media and tech world, it can be easy to think you have to keep up with the Jones’ and get then latest and greatest devices. Some people do need a smart phone or iPad for work/school, but make sure to get a good deal. While a new device can be an investment, do make sure you actually need it for work/school. 

Alternate: Talk to family or friends to see if they have a used device for sale. Get a good case and take care of it. My mom had her iPad 2 for several years and did her eBay work on it. You don’t need a new device every 1-2 years especially if money is tight.


I have friends who have owned the same plaid shirt for 15 years. While not everyone can keep clothes this long due to growth in a variety of areas, clothes actually last much longer than people think. And a good pair of shoes can go a long way. I’m pretty sure my black and red Converse lasted me 5-6 years before they had holes in them. Some people do have to wear fancier clothes for work or school, so take this into account.

Alternate: Thrift stores, consignment shops, and sidewalk sales are your friend. At least in my area, I can find 150 dollar shoes for 10-15 bucks on an Über deal. I can regularly find Nike or Adidas shoes for 20 bucks. I got my son a Columbia fleece for 50 cents once at a thrift store. I rarely, rarely pay full price for any clothing item, unless it’s a 5 dollar shirt for my son at Target.


Vacations can make or break the budget. There are many easy ways to spend lots of money on vacation. Food, shows, events, flights, hotels, it can easily add up to thousands of dollars. But you can do vacations on the cheap. And if you don’t have much money, don’t go on vacations just because your friends go on one every other weekend. Most people get 1-2 vacations a year, if that. I have a few friends who go on a vacation once every 3-4 years because of work/time/money. 

Alternate: If going with other family or friends, split the cost of the AirBnB or hotel. Instead of going out to eat for every meal, stay at a place with a kitchen and have some easy meals you can do. Search Google for any special deals you may have. And set aside a specific amount of money for the trip, and don’t go over it! And you don’t have to make every vacation this crazy epic thing. A night at the beach having frozen pizza can still be amazing. 

These are just some ways I would think of to cut costs if money was tight. Some would be easier than others for sure. However, learning to live frugally can be hard at first, but then once you get used to it, it can be really freeing! 

Whether you are trying to pay off debt or getting a kid through college, learning to cut costs will help you in the end. Doesn’t mean you have to be bummed out all the time that you have to change the way you live. But it allows you to be more creative about having fun and then you realize that money doesn’t make you happy. People, faith, love, and memories can help fulfill so much more than money ever could. 

Bonus Content: 

My family has a quote “shop family first.” What that means is any time one of us needs a dress or a pan or any odd item, we ask family or friends to see if they have an extra or if we can borrow. It’s amazing how much stuff we can obtain and I’m always donating my stuff. I try to ask family and friends first before donating to other places, because I would rather have a friend or family member have something of mine than some random person.

One of my hobbies is going to Goodwill and other discount stores such as Ross or Sierra. Because of this, I find incredibly deals, such as 90% off climbing shoes or 5 dollar Columbia jackets. When a deal is really good, I snag it up, because even if I don’t personally need it, I know of a friend or family member that might need it. 

I have been able to sell or give away lots of climbing gear to friends and family, and that way people can still climb even if they don’t have money for a new pair of shoes when the toe blows out of their current ones. 

This is just another way to save money! Shop Family First. 

What are you invested in?

When I think of the word investment, I immediately think of finances and the stock market. However, there is another definition that is used commonly in church culture. Basically the idea of being involved in many different areas. Investing your time, mental energy, faith, and physical self into activities, people, or events.

I recently said the other day I was feeling burnt out, and I tried to think of why I’ve been feeling that way lately. Then I realized, I’ve invested myself in many things and people. I do have downtime, especially with the kid in school full time. I do have a good amount of time for myself.

That being said, I often use that time investing in the people around me. If I’m at the coffee shop, I’m chatting it up with the baristas and possibly the other customers. If I’m at the rock gym, I’m not just climbing but talking and building friendships with not only the employees but with the members. When I’m at church, I’m investing in my church family and my family as well. When I’m at AWANA, I’m investing in the kids and leaders.

My husband and I have spread ourselves pretty thin this year in terms of investment. We love spending time with people and getting to know them. Between coworkers, friends, family, school, our kid’s friends, it all adds up. On any given week, I’m coordinating with probably over 50 people on various tasks. Whether it’s my several climbing groups, AWANA, my small group, game group, two D&D groups, friends, and family, sometimes I get even where I’m triple booked in one day.

This isn’t a post on me being popular or doing too much. But it’s showing how even though I’m a stay at home mom with a good chunk of free time, I’m also investing myself in many different directions. Just because I spend an hour at the coffee shop every few days, doesn’t mean I’m not currently investing in the people and place there. I am. I’m an extrovert, and I love building friendships and relationships with people.

Community is what drives me. As a Christian, it’s all about relationships for me. And I don’t have an agenda. I don’t become your friend just to invite you to church. I become your friend because I care about you and I love sharing this passion with you. Whether it’s coffee or climbing or math or board games. And if I’m able to enourage and be a light to people along the way, that’s my ultimate goal.

And no, I am far from being perfect. I still get mad when I don’t send a league route. I still get annoyed if I don’t win that board game. I’m not a perfect representation of Christ. I still make mistakes. I say dumb things and I get very emotional. But as my pastor says, we are all in process. I invest in all these people and events and places because I want to share my life with so many people. I don’t want to just live in the church bubble. I want to be friends with people of all walks of life, because that’s how we grow. And I think hearing where people are and where they come from is so interesting to me.

So what’s the point of all of this? I guess it’s saying that just because someone appears to have lots of free time, doesn’t mean that their emotional, spiritual, and physical energy doesn’t get sapped from time to time. I guess it means we should all have grace and not judge people’s schedules. Everyone does life differently. Some people are homebodies and want as much home time as possible. Others love to be out and about and doing as many things as possible.

I’m a bit of a mix. I guess with my son in school full time I thought I would have more time. I do have more time, but I have less emotional time. We are involved in a lot, and though I’m constantly saying no to certain events or commitments, I also want to be open and available for a lot of people. I’ll get my break soon. Once summer hits, a lot of the things I’m involved in take a break. I won’t have recess duty or school events or Awana or everyday 3 pm pick up. Gotta keep rolling until the end of the school year.

All in all, what it comes down to, is I love people, I love spending time with people, and I wouldn’t trade my life for the world. I’m so blessed that I get to interact and be friends with so many different people.

As Iron Sharpens Iron, so we must sharpen each other.