belanger"Today, if you hear His Voice, do not harden your hearts..." Hebrews 3:15

Have you ever heard God talking to you? He does, you know, and He longs for you to listen. Sometimes, we're so preoccupied with going here, doing that, that we don't hear it. His Voice gets lost in our grocery lists, our work responsibilities, while driving the kids to music lessons, and while packing lunches. Others hear Him, but ignore what they hear. But how can you listen, and really hear the Holy Spirit for yourself?

You must be silent.

This doesn't just mean turning off your iPhone or the TV. Getting rid of all external noise is a start, of course, and very necessary. But to really listen for God, you must also still your mind. Think about God, and think about how much He loves you and wants to talk to you. Be really, truly silent—with your ears and your heart.

St. Therese, the Little Flower, was good at this. She knew the importance of quieting the mind and listening for His Voice. Sometimes we are so busy talking to ourselves or hearing unimportant chatter of the day from electronics or people around us that we aren't letting God get a word in edgewise.

Sometimes, though, God speaks to you when you least expect it, and aren't even prepared for it. This happens a lot to me!

On a grey winter day, in the silence of my car, God told me He had a plan for me: I was to write a fiction book for Catholic preteens, and it would be about St. Therese, my dear friend in Heaven. I was excited, but I had many doubts. Would this be a book kids would want to read? Could it actually be published? What if I got some information wrong about St. Therese? I have to admit that I was plagued by doubt. As many do, I questioned the Voice.

God and St. Therese (who is wonderfully persistent!) had other ideas, however. Because I listened to Him, God made so many wonderful things happen in one year. I know that St. Therese was praying for me during this time, interceding for me and giving me new ideas while I wrote, nudging me along. Last month, I celebrated the one-year anniversary of Olivia and the Little Way, when God made my writing dream come true. In one short year, I've had three printings, a Catholic Press Association book award, met hundreds of wonderful, faithful people, and have thousands of readers and fans of my little book. Amazing. And to think it is all because of a Voice.

I love going to book signings and meeting my readers. They tell me their stories about St. Therese, their grandchildren, their parents, their teachers, their children. I've been told I have a friendly face, and I like to think that I am approachable. It must be true because people tell me, a person they have just met, their personal stories all of the time! I love to listen. They love to tell. There's something about St. Therese that brings out so much love in so many people. Some of them have much emotion when they talk about her, and some start to cry. "Little Therese," as she liked to be called, has had such a powerful impact on so many people.

At one particular book signing this past spring at a church, I sat and chatted with parishioners about my book and St. Therese. The day was very long, and, being human, I started to get hungry and a little tired. Anyone who knows me knows that when I get hungry, I can get a little...crabby. Usually all it takes is a handful of cookies or crackers and I'm back to my old self. At this book signing, I was starting to feel the effects of a long day. I stood up and straightened up the books and St. Therese chaplets on the table, then started to rummage through my purse for a quick snack. While I was doing this, a very old woman came up to the table. Elderly and frail, she stopped and looked at me.

"I do love St. Therese," she said, her eyes red and brimming with tears.

I sat down, smiled, and asked her to share her story.

She began a halting explanation of how St. Therese had touched her life in many ways. As she spoke, I couldn't help but notice that the frail woman had not bathed in a long time. While she was talking to me, a parishioner came up beside her and offered to treat her to a copy of Olivia and the Little Way. She was delighted to accept, and was very grateful.

I signed a book for her and watched her hobble away. I felt very saddened because I knew she was poor, but I felt very happy too that she had a loving friend in the parish. She lingered by the church and stared inside while I watched her quietly, feeling something in my heart I could not explain.

It was in that instant that I heard His Voice.

"Give her a chaplet."

The Voice was as clear as day. It was the same one I had heard before, and I smiled. I glanced at the table, which held books and chaplets with pink rose beads.

"Give her a chaplet," the Voice said again, very insistent.

I reached over and collected a chaplet and the instruction card that I make to go with it. I approached the lady and held both of them out to her.

"Excuse me, Ma'am, these are for you," I said.

The look on this lady's face was sheer joy as I placed the items in her wrinkled hands.

"Oh, thank you! Thank you!" she cried.

"Thank you for coming to talk to me and sharing your story," I said. Then I thought to myself, You've given me so much more than what I have given you.

Listen to His Voice. Do what He wants you to do. Be still and hear what He wants to say to you and you will be amazed, as I was and still am.

Copyright 2009 Nancy Carabio Belanger