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How do we know?

I’ve been praying and asking God for answers for a while now.  I especially began seeking His guidance over the time that Tawdra Kandle and I shared our “Forty Days with the Risen Christ” devotional.  Then the week before last at a bible study we discussed the holy spirit and the gifts the Spirit gives us.  One of the women asked our study leader, “How do we know that what we think we hear is really the Spirit and not our own ideas?”

I sat up in my seat and leaned in for the answer.  I’m not sure how badly she needed to know, but I knew I certainly wanted some help in that area. You see I’ve had a feeling in my heart for years now about my role in God’s plan and I’ve been struggling to bring that feeling to form.  How would I know what was his will versus my will?

Our study leader told us we will know the spirit because it chases us.  We can’t get away from the messages of the spirit.  It follows us and puts signs in front of us constantly. 

“But if we aren’t sure?” the woman pressed

It’s simple.  We ask for confirmation.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 16:13

And so, I decided it was time to ask for confirmation. 

As you may (or may not) know, I’m a romance writer.  I have about 5 different romance series currently available.  But while my faith is a part of me and a part of me is in my writing, I’ve been sensing that I should make Christ an even bigger part of that writing journey. 

If I’m honest, I haven’t just been sensing that I should, I’ve been feeling a definite and strong desire to bring my God to prominence.  Writing isn’t just my joy, it is a gift of the Spirit.  And I want to share it fully, without restraint, and to give glory to the one who gave me that gift. 

But how does that fit in with my current backlist of books?  Because let’s be honest, my books are not ones I’d catch my pastor recommending to his wife.  So should I scrap all that I’ve done, change my name (another pen name?!?!) and start over? 

I had a trusted writer and promotion expert advise me that I really didn’t have a choice.  I had to develop a brand new pen name and keep my other works totally separate from any Christian works.  And business-wise, she’s absolutely right.  There are more reasons I can come up with to take her advice than not…

Except that the not is this little voice inside me.  The voice that says, Is business the reason for doing this?

About a year ago The Curtis Grimes Band led the worship service at our church.  I had no idea who they were honest.  Their music was fantastic, especially the older hymns they played.  But it was the story that struck me.  It was the story of a country music singer who decided to start singing for Jesus instead.  And to use his platform as a singer to reach people, even if those people are in a honky tonk.

They were meeting people right where they were in life and I felt so inspired by this and have kept going back to it in my mind. 

But again, how do I know what the spirit is leading me to?

I decided it was time I asked for confirmation.  I prayed and wrote in my prayer journal for God to give me a sign.  That next Sunday, the Sunday before Pentecost, the hubby and I went to the pool. 

Since he’s never met a stranger, he struck up a conversation with a young woman there.  She was just as talkative as he was and began asking him about his career and what he’d taught when he was a professor.  He told her about his books, then he pointed at me and said, “My wife’s a writer too.”

“Ooo, what do you write?” she asked.

“Well, I write some mystery and some romance.”

“Do you write smut!” she asked enthusiastically. 

And I admitted that my romance stories were in fact a bit steamy.  She was enthralled by the idea she’d met a romance writer.  She peppered me with questions about my books, about my stories, about how I became a writer… 

Then something else happened… she started talking to me about her life.  About her recent break up with her boyfriend.  About how her nephew had autism.  About how she was moving into an RV for a while.  About how life was hard and how she was struggling.  And at the end of the conversation, I told her about this blog and about my red rope prayer project and I told her I wanted to write her name in my journal. 

“Carrie.  My name’s Carrie, like the movie.  And I would be absolutely honored if you would pray for me.  I’d appreciate that so much.”

Would she have spent an hour chatting with me at the pool if she hadn’t been intrigued by my being a romance writer?  Maybe.  Maybe not. 

But I can tell you this, the Spirit gave me a great big answer that afternoon.  God reminded me that I can meet people where ever they are and that He can and will use me and my gifts to touch people. 

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job 42:10

I’ve got big ideas for my author platform, for how I’m going to modify what I do to bring Christ front and center.  And no name change is required…

…because the process is part of the message…

… and the message is part of the calling…

… and the calling is part of His plan. 

And I’m so grateful for that!


Was there something in your life that you felt strongly was the Spirit talking to you? A song? A movie? A moment with a stranger?

I’d be so honored to write your name in my prayer journal. If you have a special need, please reach out to me. You can comment below or you can go to Let us pray for you to send us a confidential message.

By oliviahardinwriter

When Olivia Hardin started having movie-like dreams in her teens, she had no choice but to begin putting them to paper. Before long, the writing bug had bitten her, and she knew she wanted to be a published author. Several rejections plus a little bit of life later, she was temporarily “cured” of the urge to write. That is, until she met a group of talented and fabulous writers who gave her the direction and encouragement she needed to get lost in the words again. Olivia has attended three different universities over the years and toyed with majors in Computer Technology, English, History and Geology. Then one day she heard the term “road scholar,”' and she knew that was what she wanted to be. Now she “studies” anything and everything just for the joy of learning. She's also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and she’s sometimes accused of being artistic. A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny, their corgi Bonnie Sue, and their new rescue Heidi Ho.

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