Stepping into writing over the last year and a half has been a dream, a challenge & an answer to prayer. I’ve wrestled through extreme emotions, muddled thinking & spiritual concepts to get to where I am now. And I’ve a lot more to go through. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. In fact, the more I write, the more I realize how much there is to learn.
I simply long to know Him more and in the process make Him more known.
It’s not always easy getting the words out. In fact, it can be a bit nerve wracking to share your thoughts & feelings with the world (or the handful of people who read them). When you put it out there you open yourself to being misunderstood, judged, criticized or ridiculed. Fortunately, I haven’t dealt with too many misunderstandings but there have been some. I’m sure there will be far more as I continue, critics too.
Writing also opens doors to connections, to God ordained encounters & to great spiritual growth. I’m soaking in the beauty of these recent experiences. New found friends have been one of the biggest blessings but only second to the ways I’ve seen God work as He teaches me & draws others nearer to Him.
As I step forward I realize there are times to say no and times to say yes. Not just yes, but yes to dreaming big.
A few weeks ago I cherished the result of doing both. I had to say no to a large blogging conference in the Carolinas. But I also said yes to a big dream, attending a writer’s retreat nearby.
I had no idea what was in store for me. At all. This experience was quite different than the recent challenges I’ve walked through which were also a result of saying yes and dreaming big.
This experience was beautiful in so many ways. I can hardly verbalize it. Experiences prior to this were painful and I can hardly verbalize them either.
God was in both.
God was good in both.
He is good in all things, always.
One thing I’ve learned is the importance of listening to the Spirit’s leading whether it’s yes or no, and whether the results will be challenging & painful or easy & cheerful.
Sometimes we think that saying yes to God will result in all good things, but it doesn’t work that way. It is always good in God’s eyes, but not always good in our own. Even so, when we listen and follow our Master, we are in good hands no matter what the outcome looks & feels like.
Typical Jo fashion is to do whatever it takes to make something happen if it seems like a good thing. When I do that, I’m not listening. At least, not to the Spirit. I’ve spent a lot of years not listening & not seeing that good could come from not getting what I wanted. It never ends beautiful.
It was hard to watch friends gather at this large conference several states away. My heart longed to be with them, to engage in fellowship & connection & to take in the beauty of that state. But I knew it was not for me.
Saying no when your heart wants to say yes is contrary to our nature. It’s also contrary to the ways of the world around us. Phrases like “follow your heart” are misguided bits of jargon that start off feeling good but leave us empty in the end.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ~ Jeremiah 17:9
Believers have the guidance of the Holy Spirit ever present within us. We must learn to listen to His voice over our feeling. Often, we’re so accustomed to the noises and busyness around us that we are dulled into thinking we’re listening when we have no idea what His voice sounds like anymore.
As we purpose to quiet the outer noises & listen for His inner stirrings we find beauty beyond compare. Let’s make room for Him.
Many times I’ve suffered the consequences of doing things my own way. This time, by listening to His leading I was comforted while not at the conference. God showed me many things which I would have missed if I’d tried to get my own way. In dreaming big and saying yes when prompted by the spirit I also saw His goodness in ways beyond expectations.
I don’t always get it right, goodness no, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to see His goodness regardless.
As I learn to listen He helps me know His good in yes and in no.
Do you find God telling you to say no to things you really want?
Do you find it hard to hear the Spirit speaking to you over the voices all around you?
I’d love to hear your stories of saying yes or no as you either walked with God or in opposition to Him
with love, Jolene
Yes…the beauty of quiet, of still, of the joy in the LORD is where and what we need so much more than we realize…until we do not have these.
I am glad you had a wonderful time in the Hill Country of Texas. I live along the Texas coast and always love a trip to the Hill Country. More than that, the time spent with Lisha and so many others must have been such a blessing.
Caring through Christ, ~ linda
Thank you Linda. Time in the Hill Country w/ these ladies was really amazing. I’m so grateful for every moment.
I see it, Jolene! Texas in the sky – love cloud shots! Sounds like Laity Lodge has lived up to it’s reputation once again, so thankful you were able to go!~ This is beautifully written. Quieting the clamor of voices so I can hear His voice is the biggest challenge for me. I’ve tried to be more intentional about that in 2014 and I think I’ve made progress. I also think it will be a constant battle until He returns. BTW – I’ve never been able to get the email sign up to work for me, it must be my browser. Can you add me manually? Would love to see you in my inbox 🙂 Blessings, friend.
Yay! You see TX in the clouds too! It was more prominent but you know how they change so quickly. By the time I got my camera ready it started changing. 🙂 I see you were added to the mailing list. Thank you so much friend! BTW, I do think it’s a constant battle. My own mind rattles pretty loudly.
Hi there – just stopping by from #tellhisstory. I related to your post on so many levels. Writing and learning and listening all along the way. When God called me to focus more on words and less in other areas of ministry, it was hard – hard – hard. Hearing “no” in an area where your heart has been anchored for so long can be very unsettling, to say the least. But He has shown me in so many beautiful, wonderful ways that His path was better. Though many days it has seemed harder, it was the safe path to take, because He walked it before me. So glad to have found you today. Blessings!
Wonderful Tiffany! I love hearing how God has blessed others as they listen, especially when the answers are hard to receive.
Jolene, I am older than most of today’s blogging community (60-something) but I will tell you this. God has a perfect plan for each one of us and at times it is a big fat NO. I am “finally” getting that and learning each day how to walk in it. For some reason we all want “big” – we want to write that one blog post that virally explodes or pen a work like 1,000 Gifts, which literally sells like bananas to monkeys!!! But He has a special blueprint for every single one of us – it is in the learning of walking steps ordained by Him that success and joy overflowing is found. His way is perfect and we, His “imperfect perfectness” are usually the ones who sabotage it! xo
Susan, thank you for sharing. I’m so glad there are women like you who still put your voice out there online. Thank you for sharing His testimony in your life and for being faithful to what He calls you too. I love that you acknowledged something most of us struggle with, this underlying desire to be big in the world’s eyes, and how important it is to just follow Him in our place. We trust Him with the rest. Blessings Susan.