Should I stay or should I go?
Should I adopt?
Should I move?
Should I write that book?
Should I change jobs?
Should I start my own business?
When people ask me if they should write a blog or a book (or do anything big with their life) – I want to crawl under my pillow and hide. I used to love the conversations. But now I find it difficult – because the answer is quite complicated. And I almost feel responsible for the outcome. Because the beautiful exchange of leaving your comfort zone and following God is never easy, but it’s always worth it. It often involves pain and sacrifice.
When you write a book or follow any big dream – it isn’t all roses. Publishers say no, you risk rejection, you have bad days, you don’t get a contract, you question your worth, you compare – there’s a lot of junk that comes with it.
However there SO MUCH beauty that comes with sharing your story. So much beauty! Hearts are stirred – your very own life changes the most and that is worth it all. I can’t (and shouldn’t) give any of my friends or any of you the answers on which way to turn. It HAS to come from God – because only He will be worth the hard times. Only He will give you the assignment or calling that will hold you up during the uncertainty. Only He can move the mountains and make things possible for a project that He breathed into existence. There are so many things we “should do” if we look side to side at our neighbors or friends. Or, if we take one scroll through social media. But what is God asking you to do? And sometimes the answer is to stay right where you are. Sometimes, it’s to jump out of the ordinary and into something new. Only He can make that clear for each of us.
As I was worrying and thinking about this very issue – how to let go of this pressure and continue to point myself – and each of you back to Him.. my sweet friend Megan sent me the perfect story. Her story. It’s a beautiful exchange.
A Beautiful Exchange
by Megan Nilsen
If you crack open the cover of my book, you’ll see Courtney DeFeo’s name front and center — under “endorsements” and “acknowledgements.” While we live miles apart (although we’re just a TAD closer now that she’s moved to the Lone Star State), her presence in my life has been invaluable!
We first met “randomly” when I plopped myself down in the seat next to her at the She Speaks conference because, let’s face it, Courtney and her friends looked so darn cool. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were, in fact, super cool — and all the things that make for insta- friends.
Courtney landed a book deal at that conference. I did not. No matter though, Courtney was the first to march herself up to my hotel room, hand me a box of kleenex and tell me that even though rejections bites, it does not necessarily determine our calling nor define who we are.
She told me I was a writer and, gosh darn it, I needed to get over myself and keep on writing. (I’m sure she was much more tactful than that, but those were the words I needed to hear.)
And so I got over myself (mostly). And kept writing.
The “powers-that-be” told me “no,” but God (through Courtney and in various other ways) told me “yes.”
Yes to writing. Yes to telling the story that burned so passionately in my heart. Yes to stepping out of my comfort zone with the anticipation God would have more in store. I just couldn’t see it all yet.
That moment epitomizes this idea of a “beautiful exchange.”
Anytime we lower the volume of our own self-centered, internal dialogue and create space for God to speak — we open ourselves up to receive something that may be altogether better and more beautiful.”
These moments are available everywhere, all the time. In the little and the big and the exciting and the mundane. There is always opportunity (at least for me!) to exchange my self-focused and often misdirected thoughts and plans for God’s gracious, hand-crafted ones.
And most of the time it’s not rocket science, but it does require a posture of humility. I’ll be back next week on Courtney’s blog to give you another story about how this idea of “beautiful exchange” plays out day-to-day in my world as a mom.
To hear more about how this idea changed my entire world – I’d love to invite you to read my new book, A Beautiful Exchange. And, hey writers! Do not let a big and hurtful NO, be a NO from telling your story in some way.
About Beautiful Exchange:
Have you ever wanted to follow God’s call “no matter what,” but the unknowns seemed scary and the risks felt great? (Join the club!) Many of us find it difficult to really live out our faith as we sit in the tension between worldly comfort and risky obedience. Perched in the delicate balance of this place, we have two choices: 1. Pull back from the invitation to whole-heartedly follow God, retreating to the coziness of our comfort zone. 2. Bravely say “yes” because we hope and believe God has something more in store.
In A Beautiful Exchange, Megan unpacks the story of how she responded to God’s call to venture outside her comfort zone only to realize He was about to rearrange everything she thought she knew about life and love. When the journey brought her to the end of herself, she wondered if life would ever return to normal. Thankfully, God exchanged her short-sighted plan for a new, more beautiful “normal” – one drafted by His own hand. Join Megan in her adventure of discovery as she digs deeper into what it means to experience the Kingdom of God and live into your true identity. She proposes God’s highest calling is the same for each of us regardless of our unique places in the world. Find a comfy spot and settle in for a compelling read, but don’t get too comfortable… Following her journey just might lead you to discover one of your own!
More from Megan’s Blog
Buy book on Amazon here.
I’d love to give away TWO copies today of A Beautiful Exchange!
Just simply say hello below OR
you can share how God is nudging you to step out.
We will be praying for you all on this list. You’ll never want to go back to normal.
ENTER by Sunday end of day.
PS. Hey Megan. You’re a writer. A dang good one. And now you’re an author. Congrats my girl. Can’t wait to toast you in person this Sunday. Another beautiful exchange. – Courtney
THIS is what I needed today. My husband and I are taking some huge leaps of faith and praying about starting our own business. It’s scary, it’s new, but truthfully it’s been on our hearts for years. Thank you for reminding me that one no does not mean we need to give up or stay stuck where we are.
Awesome Angela. It is so grey! I think God would’ve done such great work in our lives and used us in Orlando or Dallas. We had to keep praying and discerning what was best. And of course make sure it was wise and biblical. Ron and I have always prayed together, prayed separately, taken our time, read the Bible and definitely sought out wise counsel from mentors we trust in these situations. It doesn’t make things less uncertain or scary – but it make it a little more clear. And, you know what? If you love God and you have your priorities in line – you’ll be just fine. 🙂
Hi, I’d love to read this book!
The Lord has been working on my heart a lot the past couple of weeks….just praying I will be obedient!
praying with you cassie!
I have been praying for clarity, peace & purpose for awhile now & this book sounds like a great fit to help along this journey!!
yay stephanie. praying for your journey.
Yes! Trying to prayerfully discern today how to best follow God with some big decisions and timing. (I love her book cover!)
hi suzanne. praying for your decisions. see above – my comments to angela on how ron and i handle the big ones.
I just launched a blog after years of knowing writing is my path. I’ve had starts and stops in my writing career — notably, marriage and babies — but am back at they keyboard. I’m chronicling the last year of my 30s and hoping to launch a book in year 40!!! (yikes).
exciting!!! keep writing.
Love the title!
My life was upended when my beautiful son was diagnosed with autism. It required me to strengthen my prayer and quiet listening time with God. My faith has stretched and molded me into a different person as the mom of 3 (one with exteme special needs). Last year at a Courtney DeFeo speaking event in Massachusetts I spoke with her about this nagging feeling God has put on my heart about teaching our faith to developmentally and socially challenged children. Since then God has planted this relentless brilliantly shining vision of what I am supposed to do about it…. But I don’t want to step off the boat- not because I don’t want to obey but because I feel so overwhelmed to begin- what to do and how to start etc. I need to just jump off the boat like Peter but I am just praying and praying for strength and guidance.
Hey Jacqueline – this is a bit random and I will leave it with you to pray about whether to get back or not – but I’m sat here in London, UK with a friend who shares your passion and runs sessions specifically for sharing faith with precious children like your son out of our church. If you need an extra prayer team or online “ideas-bouncing-off” person, could be you guys could link up over email and share journeys/encouragement? Post a reply to the comment if that would help – no worries if not!
oh jacqueline. i am so happy to hear from you. i just KNOW your journey will be used – whether it’s one mom in your town, a small group of moms or thousands. you just write. write what you are learning either in a journal or online somewhere. you don’t even have to share – but begin to get it out. and i think God will start opening doors to use what you’ve been through. it may be for that – one family, one child at a time. and expand from there. praying for your clarity.
My husband and I are currently struggling with big decisions as well. We’ve been on the fence about leaving our small town and spreading our wings elsewhere. He’s found a job in Houston that he’s really interested in applying for but he can’t seem to make himself submit his resume. We are scared of the unknown, uprooting our kids from their preschool that we love, leaving our families, and of the “big city” life. We were both born and raised here in our small town, we thought we would be raising our family here, but, we are now unsure and often times feel like we are settling. Please be in prayer with us that we can obey whatever our call is. Maybe this is a test of contentment or maybe this is our chance to follow God’s vision and to soar…. Thank you for this post today.
gosh – so hard. i understand for sure. praying you will find peace on this together. keep praying and seek wise counsel. give it time.
Would love to read this book as my husband and I are praying over some changes that may be around the bend. Seeking God’s timing, direction and peace.
Thanks for sharing. I would love to read this book!
I so needed to hear this today. For the last couple of months, I’ve struggled with being a SAHM and not contributing financially to our family. I’ve been debating about whether to go back to teaching or finding something to do at home. Staying home with my boys is very important to me. This was a great reminder to stop and listen.
traci – it is SO hard to silence the opinions of others and sometimes the pressures we even put on ourselves. i do not regret ONE DAY i’ve been home with my girls. i’ve only regretted the days i worked too much. i can’t answer the financial questions for you guys – that’s certainly personal -but hang in there. God will make it clear and it may change with each year and season. every year it changes with school schedules and capacity.
I would love to read this.
Yew love this!!
i would love to read this book – i pulled up this email right as i came from a meeting where i was wondering why am i here? and then i see, “should i stay or should i go” and i started to laugh – thank you for this post and for sharing. i am toying with starting a blog (set up an account on tumblr) and thinking about finding out a good resource to help me with a website (bought a domain 2 months ago) but i am stuck. keep thinking what is it i truly want to share and who in the world would even be interested in listening to me. so instead of stepping out and just sit here and think about the what if. it’s easy because life is so busy but i don’t want to look back and have missed what god is really wanting me to do . filled with dreams and vision but don’t know how to let it out!
you got it girl. just start and IGNORE the numbers. turn off comments. the comparison game is from the devil. just share what’s on your heart and he will use it. one person at a time.
Hi! Would love to read and share the book, sounds like a great experience to learn from.Gbu
Would LOVE to read this book! I’m so happy for Megan!…I recently went back to teaching after taking years off as a stay at home mom. I really feel like God opened the doors to my job, yet I still struggle with how to balance my job, my own children, my marriage. I want to rely on Him knowing He called me to this, yet struggle with giving it all to Him.
gosh – yes. the balance is H-A-R-D. every season seems to change for me and i have to keep going back to what HE called me to do. it gets out of whack for me when I add too much. it started out so pure. one book, or one product – then i add the chaos. he never said speak all over or launch all these giveaways etc. 😉 keep saying no and protect that schedule., even if your friends think you are looney.
Thank you ladies for sharing from your hearts and letting God use you to speak to us. 🙂 This book sounds fabulous!!!!!
Ladies this post is so timely and Megan I can’t wait to get my hands in your book!!I remember that evening at She Speaks very well. I am forever God placed both of you in my path. Your words and stories inspire me to keep going when the hard days come (like now) thank you ladies for cheering me on! You are loved
You were such a breath of fresh, Alabama air to me that day!! So thankful for you. 🙂
this is a cute match. let’s reunite.
I am in my forties and I someone that the younger women in my church come to with these questions. I am ordering the book today to read and will pass on when the time comes. Would love a free copy to share. Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us. Blessings!
Me too, girl!! 40-somethings unite. #discobabiesforever
You won Shelly!
Thank you so much!! I can not wait to open up that little jewel and see what God is going to speak through your writing Megan! Thank you Courtney for your blog and your heart to share your experiences and love with other women. God Bless you both!
Ladies!! My heart skips beats and beats reading all your sweet and heartfelt comments. This whole faith journey can feel so complicated and unknown sometimes, but it is made so much clearer when we walk together with people like you! I love that you are all in different places in life, wondering about blogs and jobs and ministries and YET God is sovereign over it all. I love that these types of spaces provide us a place to connect and pray for one another as we bounce along this called “life” together. I am honored and humbled that any of you would be compelled to read the book! FYI — I added personal reflection / small group discussion questions in the back so if you’d like to grab a friend or three you could read through it together and really dig into some good conversation together. Perhaps you’ll deeply resonate with certain parts and in other places you’ll vehemently disagree with me. Either way, I am so good with that! I just wanted to share this testimony and open doors that God might walk through to speak directly to you. All you readers have my heart! Thanks for the encouragement. I am praying….
Megan, I ordered you book from Amazon over three weeks ago, but couldn’t get to it right away. I finished it only a few days ago, and it’s wonderful. After reading it, I pronounce the title to be perfect! I appreciate the questions you pose for each chapter that make it very inviting to use as a group study. Thanks for using your gift of writing to share your story and your insights. It’s good to be reminded that some of God’s best plans for us unfold when we take “the long way ’round”.
Diane! Thanks for that super sweet review. So glad it hit your heart in some way! Major smile.
I would love to read this book!
My husband and I are prayerfully considering adoption and delaying having babies for a couple of years. It is very difficult to quiet my own internal chatter and just listen to Him!
I would love to read this book! I am in a small group and we so want to know what more God has in store for us individually and us as a group and when and how to grow this group or when/how to share with others to begin more small intimate groups where trust can be built.
Teresa, If you decide to grab this book to use in a small group/book club type setting, I would LOVE to know how it goes. So curious to see how the story/questions would resonate with you all. How God might move…Let me know if you do!
Would like to get the book to read. I’ve been getting the sense of change in my spirit, but don’t know what it is. I’ve been praying for guidance and for God to direct my steps.