There are painful decisions: Should I stay and work on my marriage? Which treatment should I take for my cancer? Am I ready to forgive? 

And there are the daily choices: Do I stop what I'm doing and call my friend who needs to talk? Should I look for a new job? Should I finish my emails or take a walk and enjoy the outdoors?

Everyday God invites us to a profound joy, a calming peace, a strong connection to His presence. This invitation can come in many forms. 

A nagging feeling that something is just not right, an impulse to say "I'm sorry" while talking to your husband, or friend asking for help. 

How do you respond? Are you scared to say "yes"? Or do you say "yes" and then start questioning yourself all along the way? Have you become too comfortable saying "no"? Do you find yourself crying out to God, "Why can't you just give me an obvious sign?!" 

This fall my retreats are tackling this very question. What if you began to say YES.

I'll be honest. Sometimes I don't like my initial responses. I can be quick to say "no". 

"No, I don't have time."

"No, I'm not qualified to help with that." 

"No, I really just don't want to!"

And if I become really honest with myself, I see what I'm really saying is: 

"No. I don't want to be vulnerable."

"No. I don't want to be judged." 

"No. I'm afraid to fail." 

You may notice there is a pattern to all of your "yes'" and "no's". You take one step forward and then fear takes over and you take one step back. 

A friend gives you the confidence to say "yes" and then you hear a critical voice and you take two steps back.

Take heart. This is an age old pattern with biblical roots. The most notable, of course, is Mary's "yes". An angel comes. She is 'much perplexed'. The angel says Do not be afraid. And then Mary surrenders and says, 'let it be with me'.

I invite you to spend some time thinking about your "yes". How often do you feel comfortable saying 'let it be with me?' And what gets in the way? Intellectually, we know saying "yes" to God leads to a deeper peace, joy, and strength that only comes from growing closer to His presence. Emotionally we can get caught up in fear. We don't want to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. 

I invite you to reflect on this question more and take a deeper look at this biblical pattern of yes and no at my fall retreats, "What if you began to say YES?" The day retreat at Mercy Center Auburn is September 24th and the four week online retreat starts September 26th. 

If you're constantly asking God, "Why can't you give me an obvious sign?!" you'll like these retreats because you'll find new ways of listening to the 'voice of God'. 

If you're battling a nagging feeling from within - the feeling that God is calling you to something but you're not sure what it is and you've been too busy to stop and think about it - you'll like these retreats because it will be your sacred time and space to stop and reflect and create a discernment plan. 

Yes, the road to YES can be challenging. When I say "yes" I know I'm going to feel a little vulnerable and outside of my comfort zone. But time and time again God shows me I can trust Him. He always shows me a better way than the one I had imagined. He always rewards my surrender with His peace.

I hope you'll join me on this journey to discerning your "yes" this month. Think about it. What if you began to say YES?