Amy Carroll » Ministry Development » Before You Start…

Before You Start…

My flowers look tired, the days are shortening, and back-to-school end-caps dominate every store.  It must be the end of summer.

Although I’m sad that the days of no alarm clocks and leisurely evenings are coming to an end, I’m always ready for more structure and a renewed work schedule at this point on the calendar.  I’ve started gearing up by making action items lists for growing my personal speaking ministry, refreshing my website and generally upping my game.  I’m a sick, listing-making girl, so that’s just how I roll.

I’ll share some of my ideas for starting the new season off with growth next week, but right in the middle of my list-making fervor, I realized that my proverbial horse was panting along behind the cart.  Correcting my priorities is where I want to start this week.

I’m currently reading Michael Hyatt’s Platform, a can’t miss book for all speakers and writers, and in the chapter titled “Think Bigger…No Bigger!”, I read this quote:

“Don’t listen to that mocking little voice that tells you to be more realistic.  Ignore it.  You can either accept reality as it is or create it as you want it to be.  This is the essence of dreaming–and thinking big.”

I love that idea.  Ignoring the voice that says, “It can’t be done” is the beginning of embracing big dreams.

But I also realized that following my own dreams will ALWAYS be too small.  So I wrote myself this note below Michael’s quote:

Start by consulting God about His dreams.  They’re bigger than your own.  Walk in His dreams, and they’ll definitely come to pass.

Now, I want to be clear.  I met Michael Hyatt briefly at She Speaks and also heard him speak.  He’s a godly man who I know assumes we’ve already taken this step to consult God before we write down our dreams and goals.

But sometimes I forget.

I had a very long list developed for the new year, and I hadn’t prayed about that list.  At. All.

So I’m backing up, and I’d love for you to join me.  The week Nolan starts back to school, I’m going to do a day retreat with Jesus.  Right now (and unless I am led differently) I’ll find an empty room at my church to spend the school day in silence, worship and study.  I’ve done this a couple of other times, and God hasn’t let me start with any big plans.  I show up in the silence with my Bible, a notebook and a pen.  That’s it, and then I let God lead.

I’ll listen for His plans.

I’ll record His dreams.

And then I’ll make my fresh list, based on the guidance of The World’s Biggest Dreamer.

Let me know if you’re going to join me, and I’ll pray for your Retreat with Jesus if you’ll pray for mine!

(Ok, I’m cracking up…and I had to share.  Before I even hit “Schedule” on this post, I decided I needed to make my retreat with Jesus official by putting it on my iPhone calendar.  I can’t type worth diddly on my phone, so I enlisted Siri.  Here’s what she said to me at the end, “I set up your event with Jesus.  Would you like to confirm?”  I don’t know why it tickled me so much to hear Siri say that.  She makes it real for sure!!  Event with Jesus confirmed.)



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  1. I am in 100%, started my meeting with Jesus tonight! My kids started back at Awana so on Wednesdays from 6:30 – 8:00, I have a room at the church and already got approval to use it every week. The Lord has started a new vision/mission and I am ready to sit at HIS feet and get instructions. I have four speaking engagements in the next two months and I am using this time to pray, read HIS word and prepare my talks. HE is faithful, my ears are ready to HEAR, eyes ready to SEE and heart ready to RESPOND. Thank you for the opportunity to share this journey with you. I will be praying for you as well.

  2. This soundalike something I been. I’m gonna call my church and see if there’s a room I can use. I’m new there and not sure. Either way I want to do this, thanks for the suggestion Amy.

    1. I meant to say, This sounds like something I need.

  3. Amy, I just loved this post! I’ve been praying about and digesting all the amazing ideas and action items from She Speaks. I love your idea of having a private retreat with Jesus to really tune in to His direction and guidance. I’m scheduling mine for Sept 4 from 8:30 am until 2:30 pm. What a great idea. So glad you shared it with all of us. BTW, last night, I received my first official speaking request via my website. And my bio sheet is almost done. Thanks for helping me launch my ministry!

    1. I’m so excited to hear about your event!! Make sure to send me the location and focal verse so I can “pin” it on our map. 🙂

  4. I greatly enjoyed this post and I’m sure the meeting scheduled confirmation from Siri would have made me chuckle, too. I love your idea of a day retreat to spend time with The Lord and hear His goals, priorities and dreams for you. My question is how do you distinguish His dreams for you from your own? How do you know when they are one in the same?

    1. Those are such amazing questions. I try to listen for God and record the impressions He leaves on my heart, but I hold them loosely just in case I’ve gotten my agenda mixed with His. As I wait for confirmation, here are a few things I watch for:
      1. Are the dreams I’ve written down consistent with scripture? I know He’ll never contradict His Word, so I check to see if it all lines up.
      2. Is there confirmation through people and circumstances? If the dreams I’ve written down are really His, He will confirm them. The timing isn’t always immediate, but confirmation will come eventually. For example, if I feel called to be a recording star, but NOBODY EVER asks me to sing, I might need to reexamine that calling. 🙂
      3. Do the dreams I’ve recorded match the passions of my heart? Do I find joy in working toward them? I love the scripture Psalm 37:9, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I used to think that it meant that He will give me what I desire, but now I think it means that He plants desires in our hearts to fulfill His will and plan.

      Hope these ideas help!

  5. Awesome. I’ve unofficially scheduled a little dreaming into my day. In the busyness of life I can’t seem to remember what they are…unless they have something to do with laundry and dinner. 😉

  6. Elizabeth B Elliott says:

    This is wonderful! I love the idea. I am going to do this at home after my kids go back – sometime that week of August 26. Thank you for your post!

  7. Love this Amy! I have so many desires & dreams & feel God calling me in so many directions that sometimes I tend to get a bit overwhelmed. My kids start back on Monday so I have scheduled my retreat day with Jesus on Tuesday. I will be praying for you during your retreat. Can’t wait to hear what God has to say!

  8. Jerri Ann Smith says:

    I love this idea, it is an on purpose, in place, set aside time with The Lord. I have never done anything this disciplined before. Honestly a little scared I won’t hear him. There I said it.

    1. I’m so glad you said that, Jerri Ann! I was so scared the first time I did it, and I wrote a devotion about it. I’m going to repost the devotion next week so you can know all about it. 🙂

  9. Shelley Summerville says:

    I am totally setting an appointment up with Siri in the morning- I want my meeting with Jesus confirmed too!!

  10. What a great idea, Amy!! Bo doesn’t start until the last Monday in August, so I have a few more weeks of trying to balance writing, spending time with him and doing all the other mom and Bible study stuff!! It really does wear me out, but I love having him around. Will be praying about taking this little day retreat when he heads back to school.

    Blessings to you,


  11. Uh–just realized I speed read both your post and Shelly’s comment and mixed into one. Will be sure to pray for you before the 26th!

  12. This post is a great reminder. I realized it was after attending She Speaks that I need to take, as you put it, a retreat with Jesus. It was way more info than I could absorb, so I really feel the need to just be still and quiet and let him tell me the direction he is going and just follow Him.

  13. Love this. I agree–my plans are too small. I want His. Will join you in Retreat with Jesus–have been asking Holy Spirit to give me a time and just saw this–so I think I’ll take yours! Sept. 26. Be easy to remember to pray for you. Oooh– just read Shelly’s comment–now we are three.

    And thanks for lovely workshop.

  14. Yep. I’ve scheduled mine for Tuesday, August 20. Oh how I need this!

  15. I LOVE this, Amy. And so funny about Siri!

    I am going to schedule my retreat. School starts on the 26th and I will have that time in a room at my church, too. With my Bible, pen, and notebook in hand I will listen for His voice to lead me.

    I bought Michael’s book at She Speaks, too, and can’t wait to get started.

    I’m feeling a nervous excitement and great hope of what is to come!

    Praying for you, too.