Coming Up for Air

Blind trust… that’s what it takes to weather a wilderness season—like the Israelites wondering for 40 years in the desert.  The Lord was preparing them for something greater, but first they had to learn to trust Him.

Mount Sinai, where God met the Israelites in the desert.

Mount Sinai, where God met the Israelites in the desert.

I’ve been in the wilderness most of this year. It didn’t start out that way. I recently got a glimmer of hope, a flicker of inspiration, and decided it’s time to surface for some air, so to speak, to bring some Light into the Darkness.

An Unexpected Loss

Earlier this year my life took an unexpected turn when I returned to full-time work to manage a major computer conversion project at my husband’s office. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that decision led to putting my writing on hold.  It was subtle at first, no time to blog led to no motivation or inspiration to blog. That led to no journaling. There were no words. It was as if my writing died and along with it I lost my voice.

It was like I lost my best friend.  I went through the various stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  The only thing missing for this dearly departed loved one was a funeral.

coffin-rose

Work, work, work—the long days, week after week, and month after month caught up with me—physically and emotionally.

When I finally realized it and things began to stabilize, I started to put in boundaries around the number of days I worked and inserted some much needed self-care.  Even with that I’ve found it very hard to write.  My writing muscle is weak and, like exercise, I need to start working out that muscle again!

Left-Brain Thinking

I got some interesting insight into my dilemma about a month ago while reading The Seven Mountain Prophesy by Johnny Enlow.  This book reveals prayer strategies for the seven mountains or sectors of society of every nation of the earth: media, government, education, economy, religion, celebration, and family.  As a prayer intercessor, this keenly interested me.

It was in the chapter on education that I had a profound revelation about my work habits and inability to write.

Left-brain thinking, when it becomes dominant, squeezes out the things of the Spirit of God.  The right brain isn’t the kingdom of God, but it’s the part of the brain God created to be open to respond to His ways.  It’s the chimney through which faith is accessed.  You can quote all the scriptures on faith and understand the logic of faith, but only the right brain can tap into the actual substance of faith.

left-right

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  My thinking was dominated by my left brain.  Day after day, I was sucked into the challenges at work.  I couldn’t get my brain to stop thinking about it.  The work consumed me, much like an addiction.  Or so I wondered at times.

Addiction?  Passion?  Or ADHD?  All I can say is that it is a struggle for me—a constant battle for balance.  It is most assuredly fed by my ADHD and my difficulty in switching gears.  (A common symptom for people with ADHD is a broken internal ‘gear-shifter’ due to chemical imbalances in the brain.)

God’s Thinking

Old habits die hard.  I was governed by my left brain for decades.  Everything was logical, analytical, and rational—until I got into recovery over 12 years ago.

In recovery I started to see and experience things from God’s perspective, like the Beatitudes and their upside down thinking:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:3-6

be-stillWhen Jesus came into the world, he challenged people to use their right brain—to see things from God’s perspective and to live by faith.  He challenged the Pharisees and biblical scholars of his day.

He turned water into wine.  He walked on water.  He fed 5,000 with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.  To top it all off, he had more food leftover than when he started.  These are things of the Spirit and are derived when we open ourselves up to getting in touch with the invisible things of God.

Coming Up for Air

Throughout this year even though I’ve been consumed with the situation at work, I’ve protected my weekly appointment time with God.  It kept me sane, refreshed and focused on the bigger purpose of why I was called out of retirement back to secular work.  My prayer times also gave me a break from left-brain thinking.  That alone wasn’t enough to inspire me to write though.

With new boundaries in place and a greater attempt at balancing my life, I hope to invest in some writing time again.  It’s been a five-year journey, so maybe I really needed a break.

Like the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert learning to trust God, I too have been leaning on Him and learning to trust.  I sense my time in the desert may be coming to an end or at least I’ve reached a temporary oasis.  The Lord has given me some new inspiration and brought meaning out of this wilderness season.

swim-air

So with this post, I am officially coming up for air and hope to surface more regularly, taking bigger gulps of air and the Spirit of God in the process.

If you’re in a wilderness season, don’t despair. God is nearer than you think.  I’d love to hear how He is stretching your trust muscle.  May this serve as inspiration and hope on your journey.

Trusting the Writing Process (Year 4)

Four years. Forty eight months. 208 weeks. 1,460 days. Any which way you describe it; I’ve been mindful and reflective of passing another writing milestone. And I’ve learned a lot about the writer’s life along the way.

4th annivMy 4-Year Blogging Experience

Earlier this month I passed my 4-year blogging anniversary. That’s over 250 posts across three blogs (here, Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau, and Journeys to Mother Love), church devotionals, and guest posts on other author blogs. When I published my first blog post, What’s in a Name, I had no idea where my writing would take me. It just felt like the right time to flex my writing muscle.

In 4 years’ time I’ve written from a Christian perspective about emotional and spiritual healing, recovery, and finding our identity. I’ve dug into my own mother wounds and shared the unexpected beauty that surrounded the passing of my mother and my father. I’ve shared the ups and downs of relationships and the challenges of living with ADHD. I took readers with me on my personal pilgrimage to Spain, my mission to Europe, and shown them the joy of partnering with my musical protégé and friend, Pedro González Arbona on his journey into film composing.

A lot of my original posts were only shared with a handful of friends who I felt safe enough to share my writing with. I recently re-read some of those posts and was surprised at their transparency and inspiration: It Takes Courage, When Life Imitates Art, Leaving a Legacy. The formatting isn’t as polished as my current work, but the content is still relevant and poignant.

A few years ago, I submitted my site for a critique by a literary agent who was focused on marketing. That led to the highest hits on my site in one day. Normally I’d think that was a good thing. But her critique of my site drew the interest of other bloggers to see what not to do. That served as an embarrassing reminder of how brutal the publishing industry can be.

Thanks to the interview with Dan Davies last month, that changed! The post, A Behind the Scenes Look at Tempting Fate with Actor Dan Davies, now holds the single day record, and with it a very pleasant reminder of an entertaining interview.

Blogging

So 4 years of blogging has ended on a positive note! I’ll continue as the Holy Spirit leads me, and maybe tackle a revamp of my blog layout in the coming year.

The Ups and Downs of Traditional Publishing

It was also four years ago that I joined the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association. Membership has its benefits, and one of those is receiving notifications of story submissions. Days after attending my first meeting, I received the notification that set my writing in motion:

“Cladach Publishing is seeking authors with an encouraging personal-experience story of healing in mother/child relationships.”

That story submission, my first manuscript, led to publishing “Walking my Mother Home” in Journeys to Mother Love. It seemed like I was on the fast-track to publishing. I did all the right things: attending conferences, marketing, speaking, blogging, and posting on social media like Facebook. It was a lot of work.

Journeys To Mother LoveWhat got lost along the way was my dream to have my memoir published. Except for an intense month of writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November 2012, work on my memoir, Emerging from the Cocoon, stopped.

An author friend told me back when all of this started that ‘overnight’ success in the publishing world can have its setbacks. She was right.

The publishing seemed to come relatively easy for me then.  Step by step the opportunities opened one after the other, with the Lord aligning all of the people and places at the right time.

Then He directed my writing endeavors towards Spain. While there are a lot of posts here related to my Spanish connection, there is still a great body of work buried deep in my journal.

Sometimes it haunts me, beckoning to be published, at least from a travel perspective.  (Like today, the anniversary of my departure for Europe on the Celebrate Recovery mission.)  But after returning from that mission (my second pilgrimage of sorts), my writing has remained an inward work in progress.

It left me wondering, “where’s the fruit?”

Trusting the Writing Process

The last year has been the hardest part of my writing journey thus far.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to take a sabbatical from serving in CR leadership. It was a difficult decision, but I knew I needed a break.  I had poured myself into the mission, writing all about it, and also launching the website and blog for that ministry. I needed a season to rest and abide in the Lord (John 15:4). Surprisingly that took me into the next layer of the therapeutic process related to my ADHD. The internal work has been intense and too raw to write about publicly.

What has happened along the way though is that I have started to accept that all of the writing I am doing is the normal path of a writer. It is especially so for someone like me who wants to bring meaning to their work and make it truly authentic.

Maya Angelou quote

I’ve often heard that writing is a process. My path to publishing happened so quickly I skipped over that part. Now I have to experience the process and trust the path that other writers have walked before me.

I’ve learned the importance and significance of solitude. I’ve learned that reflection is a part of the craft.

Writers live a life of discovery and look at the inner experience of it. As such, we often need to distance ourselves from our experiences to be able to get the right perspective on it. That takes time, patience, and perseverance.

So I’ve come to accept that this season of my writing journey has been about doing the deeper inner work and trusting the process. I know it will be harder for me because of my ADHD. I’m not giving up.

For now, I’m continuing to take notice of what is going on around me and in me through the lens of ADHD. It’s a blessing, or so I’ve been told.

I know I’m worth it.

And so are you. I encourage you, my friends and readers, to take the time to invest in yourself and reflect on your experiences. You don’t have to be a writer. Any writing you do about it will lead to healing and emotional health though.

Thanks for supporting my writing and journeying along with me.  May this blog be a place of encouragement and inspiration on your journey.  May He turn your healing into hope too.

thank-you

Coming Down From the Mountaintops, Part 1

The blank page sits before me.  Words and sentences are rapidly racing in my mind so fast that I can’t catch up to them.  Now they are gone.

“Am I really ready for this?” I wonder to myself.  “Am I ready to deliberately sit down and write a new post on my blog?”

Keep calm and write onBreaking my Silence

I’ve been regularly writing here once a week for over three years.  Then I stopped over a month ago without a word.  Maybe my regular readers didn’t notice because I was sharing blog posts from my publisher and ministry sites where I contribute, JourneysToMotherLove.com  and CelebrateRecoveryOnThePlateau.org.

I once read that when blogging to not explain an absence of your posts—to just re-start.  I don’t know if it’s an official blogging rule or what, but I’ve seen it broken many times.  So I’m digging back in with what’s been going on, and a bit of reason behind my absence.  It’s part of the vulnerability and authenticity I hope to share in my writing, and to inspire others to not be shamed into silence.

Since it’s been a while, I’m a bit nervous about writing what’s been on my heart to share, so here goes with Part 1…

The Easy Answer

First of all, writing for the mission took a lot out of me.  It was very hard to carve out the time while traveling to send updates.  I’ve heard positive response to it, like hearing how people felt they were right there with me.  I’m so glad I could update my mission supporters along the way.  No regrets on that.

I had also hoped to write on my personal blog about the mission—not necessarily updates, but from my perspective on other things that didn’t seem appropriate to share on the ministry site, and to just write in general about being in France and Spain.  It became too hard to separate them, and to make time for it.  I did, however, write in my journal as much as possible.  For the most part, that body of work is not lost.  Time is always my biggest obstacle in publically sharing it.

Which brings me to another reason I’ve been absent from my blog:  I started a new writing project, and I didn’t want to make any fanfare about it.  During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I worked on the groundwork for a book that the Lord put on my heart related to the past year culminating in the mission.  Up until this point, the only writing discipline I’ve had for publishing has been weekly blog posts.  I was trying to change that, not blog for a while and dig into (back into) my memoir.  Again, no regrets, and no fanfare either.  I have confidence that in time, the Lord will use it.  For now it’s between Him and me.

The Not So Easy Answer

In addition to busyness and writing fatigue over the mission, I think the main reason I haven’t blogged is lack of motivation and where I’ve been emotionally since my return.  It’s not a writer’s block.  It was a deliberate decision I made to not push myself into writing again before I was ready.

The truth is when I came down from the mountaintops of serving God, I came down hard.  I suppose not altogether unlike what happened last year.  That makes me nervous to write and to publically share my inner turmoil.

I’ve had to pick up the pieces from the intensity of which I have lived the last year.  I went from working through the depression that surfaced after my first trip to Spain in the summer of 2013, into the throes of a full blown mission trip back to Europe.  It wasn’t just a mission trip that I participated in.  It was one that I led.  (I was beyond the depression when the invitation to Spain surfaced.)  However, I have spent the last year in the therapeutic process helping me to get more emotionally grounded.  I knew I had to in order for God to use me.  He was and has equipped me for the call.

Coming home to the daily grind of life in America, after living in Europe for three weeks and serving God in my sweet spot—sharing and teaching about life transformation through Celebrate Recovery, left me somewhat empty inside.  Before I left on the mission, I repeatedly told my husband, friends, and myself, “I’m going to re-group when I return.”

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing.  I’m looking at my own recovery issues (the next layer) as I co-lead a women’s step study group.  I’ve significantly decreased my late night writing routine.  I’m making more time for my family and household commitments.  I go back and forth between isolating for my own introvert sanity and reaching out to others for support.  It’s hard to find a balance.  Thankfully, I’m a work in progress and He’s not done with me yet.

What’s Next?

After almost 200 blog posts in 3+ years, I’ve decided to blog when the spirit moves me.  I have other writing I want to do.  God’s been nudging me.  There will be no more schedule keeping or late night writing to make that self-imposed (and recommended platform building) deadline.  I’m not doing this for fame or fortune or because I feel the need to carry on a virtual relationship with others.

Some light bedtime reading.

Some light bedtime reading.

Before there were blogs, journalists wrote for the sake of the story.  There were no ‘like’ buttons or comments at the end of an article.  That was reserved for those who took time to write a letter to the editor.  I’m not saying those are bad, just that I’m not driven by it.

I know enough about recovery to know that it is cause for concern in our society and can lead to addictions, and at the very least is making us ever so attached to our smart phones.  Yes, it is a compulsive behavior.  I look forward to the day Celebrate Recovery participants stand up, admit that and take a ‘blue chip’ for it.  (Blue chips represent an area of recovery that a person is working on.)

For me blogging is about the journey, the inspiration to others, and leaving a legacy of healing.

I’ve also been doing more reading—reading about writing and the role it plays in healing. It’s all coming together, step by step, and one day at a time.  Hopefully, the memoir will make its way to a greater priority in my life.  I want that to be my focus of any writing discipline I establish in 2015.

In Part 2 of this post series, I’ll share more about the biblical perspective of coming down from the mountaintops with God—’with‘ being the operative word.

English Additions to “Walking My Mother Home” Available

As I mentioned in my announcement about the E-book of “Walking My Mother Home,” it was a writing dream come true for me to publish my story in Spanish. I wanted it to be a complete book, with Preface, Foreword, etc.  So I had to write those additional English pieces in order to have them translated into Spanish.

Writing the Additions

In my quest to determine how best to compile a more complete E-book, I researched the parts of a book, and reviewed books by some of my favorite authors and published friends. My writing plopped me right back into the throes of my story—the grief, the joy, and the miraculous way that God has been tying this season of my life all together.  And it was all beautifully orchestrated in time to share on my mission in Spain (and the church in Rivas).

It was also especially poignant for me to share it with my Spanish family while there. Last year, I left them with a signed copy of Journeys to Mother Love.  It was more a symbolic and sentimental gesture than anything else because most of the family couldn’t read it.  However, while I was in Spain last week, I had copies of the Spanish book printed and bound.  I personalized and signed each one for family members.  My only disappointment was that I couldn’t give the books to them personally.

‘Foreword’ Thinking

When it came to determining who would write the Foreword that was an easy decision. It had to be Pedro.  We had that discussion a few years ago.  I was getting ready to work on my memoir in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

In doing other writing research, I came across references to the movie “Finding Forrester” as a good writer’s story.  It is about a writing relationship between Forrester, a Pulitzer Prize author (played by Sean Connery), and his unlikely protégé, Jamal.  The ending scene of the movie spoke volumes to me. Watch the first two minutes of the scene to see why, Letter to Jamal.

“Jamal: Opens the letter.
Forrester: Dear Jamal, Someone I once knew wrote that we walk away from our dreams afraid that we may fail or worse yet, afraid we may succeed. You need to know that while I knew so very early that you would realize your dreams, I never imagined I would once again realize my own. Seasons change young man, and while I may have waited until the winter of my life, to see the things I’ve seen this past year, there is no doubt I would have waited too long, had it not been for you.”

Role reversal, Pedro signing the Foreword of my personal copy of the book.

Role reversal, Pedro signing the Foreword of my personal copy of the book.

I found Ardis in the process of coming alongside my mother as she prepared to leave this earth, and in my relationship with my Spanish family. Pedro was a big catalyst in my following my writing dreams back then.  Like Forrester’s posthumous request to Jamal, I knew that someday Pedro would write my Foreword.  I told him then of my desire, not knowing how or when the right time or context would present itself.  Now was God’s perfect timing. (Muchas gracias, Pedro!)

I’d Like to Thank…

The other part of these additional writing pieces that I am excited about publishing are my acknowledgments to those who made publishing my story possible. The list of names was too long to detail and translate on the page, but if you were a close part of my life during the writing process, you know you have my gratitude for your prayers and encouragement.  (You know who you are.)  Below is an excerpt of my acknowledgements:

First and foremost, I thank God for prompting me to write and submit this story for publishing. He healed me, and He gets the credit. He is using my pain for His glory and I am eternally grateful for that.

Thank you pen

Second, I am indebted to the bi-lingual expertise and selfless donation of time and energy by Oscar Farfan (Saddleback Church, CA) for the Spanish version.  I am grateful for his making this story available to a new audience of readers, and for having it ready in time for release while on my Celebrate Recovery mission in the fall of 2014.

I am also grateful to:

  • Cathy Lawton, publisher at Cladach Publishing, for seeing the value in this story, accepting it and granting me permission to translate it into other languages.
  • My Celebrate Recovery community at Pine Lake Covenant Church, for their steadfast support throughout the writing process and for approval of the CR mission to Europe.
  • My prayer partners, mentors and pastors who encouraged and supported my healing and writing journey.
  • My Spanish family, especially Rosa, Rafa, and Pedro, for extending their friendship and love across cultural, language, and religious differences, and for being such an integral part of my healing process.
  • My husband and sons, for their patience, understanding, and love as I pursued my writing dreams and the call into missions.

Book Dedication

Finally, I dedicated my story to someone who without their acceptance of me and my friendship would not have put the healing steps into motion. It is to Rosa, Pedro’s mother.Book dedication

The Complete Story

So today, it is with great pleasure that I am sharing those additional pieces to “Walking My Mother Home” in English. If you’ve already read the story, I encourage you to sit back and read it again with the bookends of the Preface, Foreword by Pedro, (then “Walking My Mother Home” from Journeys to Mother Love published by Cladach Publishing) and the Epilogue. You’ll be glad you did. I’ll be including these pieces with each book that I sell from now on.

PREFACE to Walking My Mother Home

FOREWORD to Walking My Mother Home

EPILOGUE to Walking My Mother Home

May this story inspire you on your journey and turn your healing into hope.

 

 

 

Announcement: E-Book for “Walking My Mother Home” Available

I have a big announcement to make that I’ve been keeping a secret for a while–until just the right time! In preparing for my mission to Spain, I was also working in the background on a special writing project.  I announced it at the church in Rivas last week and am now officially announcing it here on my site.

A Writing Dream Fulfilled

It is the completion of the Spanish translation of my story “Walking my Mother Home,” from the compilation Journeys to Mother Love, published by Cladach Publishing in 2012.  There is a long story as to how this all came to be.  As usual it includes surrendering the outcome to the Lord and waiting on His timing.  It is the fulfillment of a writing dream come true for me.

When my manuscript was accepted by my publisher in January 2012, I knew in my heart that the Lord wanted me to share this story beyond an American audience. It only seemed natural that Spanish audiences would resonate with the story as much as Americans have.  So I negotiated the inclusion of the foreign translation rights as part of my contract.

Unforeseen Obstacles to Translating the Story

Later that same year, Pedro, the Spanish exchange student who is a part of this story, agreed to translate it for me. He completed his translation of the story, written out by hand while on holiday in Mallorca.  While he translated the story, he also shared it in Spanish with his family.  They, of course, already knew the story as retold by Pedro and Rosa, but this was my turn to share it with them from my perspective.

optima_TRANSLATION-SPANISHIt was truly a gift to hear Pedro recount to me how interested his grandfather was in the story, hanging on every word. (The story recounts the intersection of his wife’s passing with my mother’s death.)  Unfortunately, that version of the translation was forever lost when Pedro’s computer crashed.  Soon after, Pedro’s music career took off; and I knew he’d never be able to translate the story.

I didn’t have any budget for a professional translator. I wasn’t seeking the Spanish version to sell it online or make any money from the E-book.  My desire was to give the E-book to the church in Rivas and other people in Spain as a gift.  In light of that, I was hoping to get the story translated by someone as a way to support the mission to Spain.

I let go of the how’s and when’s of a Spanish translation ever being done. I kept praying.  I kept asking for help.  God was continuing to stretch me and to build my trust in Him.

free-internet-marketing-ebooksA New Spanish Connection

Then it happened. It happened in such an unexpected way, and it will be used in ways that I never dreamed possible.

Oscar, my Spanish contact at Saddleback Resources, where the Celebrate Recovery materials (Celebremos la Recuperación) are sold and the Spanish version was translated, donated his time to the cause for the mission. Much to my surprise the Spanish version of “Walking My Mother Home” will also be used as a resource for Spanish testimony requests.  I was blown away by Oscar’s generous gift to translate this story, to know that it would be used beyond the mission, and also that it would be ready in time for the mission to Spain (where I am still on location).

This all happened the few weeks prior to my departure on the mission. I added the customary additional pieces to the story, like a Preface, so it would be a more complete book.  Those pieces are part of the Spanish version of the E-book.  (Those pieces are published on the post, English Additions to “Walking My Mother Home” Available.)

Encaminando a Mi Madre a Casa

So it is with great delight and gratitude that I am officially announcing and publishing the Spanish E-book of “Walking My Mother Home.” The Spanish title is Encaminando a Mi Madre a Casa.  It is free for online reading or you can download the PDF.  The link is on my new Spanish page, here.

Walking My Mother Home Spanish version released October 2014.

Walking My Mother Home Spanish version released October 2014.

If you know any people who speak Spanish, please direct them to my new free Spanish E-book, Encaminando a mi Madre a Casa.

Please note: The English version of “Walking My Mother Home” is only available in the compilation, Journeys to Mother Love. Paperback or e-book versions are available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Cladach Publishing.  Autographed copies are available through my site by clicking here.

Reflections on a Writing Journey

This week marked the 2-year anniversary of the release of my story, “Walking My Mother Home,” in Journeys to Mother Love.  It passed without any promotional fanfare.  Except for one or two friends, I didn’t even mention it in passing. However, as I age, these sorts of milestones seem to carry an emotional marker that internally surfaces and causes me to pause and take note of their significance.  So naturally, as a writer, I am writing about it…

Toasting to the release of Journeys to Mother Love, August 2012.

Toasting to the release of Journeys to Mother Love, August 2012.

So You Want to Write

I could tell you lots about what I learned in these past two years about publishing, yet I’ve only scratched the surface myself in my knowledge. I know the dos and don’ts and the ins and outs of blogging, social media, etc.  However, I don’t read much about it anymore. (Michael Hyatt and Chip MacGregor are two of my favorite publishing bloggers.) Instead I have turned my attention to helping and encouraging others in their writing and blogging quests.

Each published author has a very unique story to tell of how they got their first book published—all fraught with rejection and perseverance, and generally being at the right place at the right time. I’ve written about my journey into publishing on my site in the past. (Check out the “My Writing Journey” category on the right sidebar.)  Today I’m sharing with my readers how this journey has affected me and why I continue to pursue my writing and publishing dreams.

In sitting down to write this post, a quote by Louise DeSalvo came to mind, from her book Writing as a Way of Healing:  “ …if you want to write you must follow your desire to write…if you want to become a writer, eventually you’ll learn through writing—and only through writing…if you want to write and don’t because you don’t feel worthy enough or able enough, not writing will eventually begin to erase who you are.”  I wrote about this quote back when I started writing in a post called, Why I Write.

photo25

Why I Write

Back then, I did struggle to feel worthy or able enough to write. I can vividly remember my first Christian writer’s meeting I attended with a good friend who was further into her publishing journey (and is now published). It was a bit intimidating to attend that meeting (3 years ago next month), meet authors, and share the intense call I felt to write. The other pre-published and published authors were very encouraging and helpful.  So I just dug right in, starting my blog (also 3 years ago next month), buying writing books, subscribing to writing blogs, and becoming a member of the writer’s association, NCWA.

Now writing is an integral part of my life.  I CANNOT NOT WRITE.  I consider it my ministry for others (my 12th Step—giving back), but it is also a way I embark on my own self-care.  Along the way, my writing has helped to ground me in my faith and to claim my identity as a Child of God.  My writing has given me a voice that was long ago minimized and criticized, and it has prevented the ‘erasing’ of who I am.

If you’ve followed me along my blogging journey you may note that there are times when my writing may not seem very inspirational, directly point people to Jesus, or have a purpose other than to document what is on my mind or going on in my life.  Regardless, I am a Christian writer—and sometimes it looks like I am a writer who just happens to be a Christian.

stand-and-share-your-story1

After three years, I see most of my life through the lens of a writer; and I love it.  It has given me opportunities to regularly write for other venues like my publisher’s site, JourneysToMotherLove.com, and the ministry site where I serve, CelebrateRecoveryOnThePlateau.org.  This summer I added guest blogging to the mix for ChristianMommyBlogger.com and UnomaNwankwor.com. (Unoma is the Christian fiction author I met at Pedro’s movie premiere.)  I serve as the editor/blog servant for Reclaim Ministries.  And finally, my writing also gives me a front row seat to Pedro’s pursuit of his music dreams in the film industry.

So I am continuing to write.  I haven’t given up on my dreams of publishing the full-length book, Emerging From the Cocoon (tentative title).  At the moment I’m too busy living the sequel (title unknown) and watching as God heals me or others on my path.  Most assuredly, the sequel will include my Spanish connection.

Journeys to Mother Love Turns 2

And what about my story, Chapter 8 – Walking My Mother Home, in Journeys to Mother Love?  In a nutshell, it remains the foundation of my message, my healing, and why I write.  It was my first born baby and my love child.

This second year hasn’t been about marketing and selling it so much as it has been about sharing the story in the right context.  And sometimes it was about giving it away to people who made an impact in my life over the years.  My story continues to be a vehicle for me to show others the love of our heavenly Father and how when we embrace healing and forgiveness, Jesus turns it into Hope.

Having said that, I’m happy to announce that I will be giving it away in bigger ways very soon.  But the details of that announcement will have to wait until another time.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a gallery of authors and recovery contacts who recently acquired my book while in LA. My hope is always that my story inspires them as their writing and teaching has inspired me.

Thanks to everyone who has purchased my book, written a review, sent me a personal note, subscribed to my blog, liked my Facebook page, or supported my writing through prayer and other means.  It has meant the world to me.

God has turned my healing to hope…just like He will yours.

Changes to my Site ~ Your Opinion Matters

Domain questionIt recently dawned on me how many ministries and arenas that I serve.  There are at least 5!  Several of them overlap and are related to recovery and healing.  I’ll share more about that soon with some exciting announcements as well.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to make some changes to my site to address the growing needs of my writing and these ministries.

I hope you’ve noticed that the tagline of Making Me Bold (noted above) is “Where healing turns to hope.”  I’m considering a new domain name to align with that and make it easy to find for key word searches online.  Don’t worry, I’m not moving my site or changing my current web address.

I’d love to get you involved in the naming process by answering the quick polling question above.  Feel free to comment at the bottom of this post with any other feedback on my site or suggested changes.

Ardis Nelson, December 2012Thanks for supporting my writing and ministry endeavors.  May God inspire you through it, to turn healing into hope.

Ardis A. Nelson
Author, Writer, Speaker, Mentor & Mom

Updated 5/23/2014: Polling is closed. And the winner is…healingtohope.com.  Thanks for voting!  Look for more changes on my site soon.

Fellowship Fridays Featured Post & Book Giveaway

Earlier this year I decided to start adding my posts to ‘link-up parties’.  Link-ups are opportunities for bloggers to share their writing to a wider audience of readers with similar interests.  I’ve noticed that some bloggers share their posts on lots of sites every week.  I personally don’t know how they do that.  It’s a lot of work–if you follow the rules–which include linking to the host blogger’s post, reading other posts on the list, and writing a comment related to the post.

Link up partyAnyway, I chose two sites that most closely matched my faith values and also exposed me to good writing from Christian women.  One of those sites was Christian Mommy Blogger (Fellowship Fridays).

A Welcome Connection

A few days ago I got a welcome email from Julie at ChristianMommyBlogger.com.  My post from the previous week so resonated with her that she chose to feature it on her blog.  Her email in turn connected with me as she referenced attending the Triduum services at her church during Holy Week–something I’ve also done for the last few years.  And so a kindred spirit was found online.

Sometimes all it takes is that one connection, that one opportunity to reach out to someone, to risk being known, and to be vulnerable.  It’s not an easy thing to do.  When I do, the rewards can be great.

Featured Badge CMB 1Julie’s decision to feature my post made my heart leap for joy because I knew that God was giving me confirmation to keep blogging.  He also reminded me that my call to write is not about being featured this week or maybe next.  It is still for an audience of One.

Last week Julie was blessed by something God laid on my heart to write.  Who knows who it will be next week.  Maybe it will be you.

Fellowship Fridays Feature Post 

Here is an excerpt from Julie’s post:

Today’s featured post is Holy Week, Holy People.  It was written by Ardis Nelson and posted on her blog, Making Me Bold.  She linked it up last week on Fellowship Fridays 18. As I read it, all I could do was nod my head as I received in her written words, confirmation of what was preached during the Good Friday service at my church.

On Good Friday, I was brought to my knees by that stark brutality with which Jesus’ humanity was assaulted in a failed attempt to blot out his divinity.  In the sermon, our pastor sought to make sense along with all of us of this hugely incomprehensible sacrifice.  And he said, “Jesus could follow through with God’s will for His life because Jesus knew who He was and he knew whose He was.”

Identity.  Purpose. Faith.

Just as Jesus had those and they enabled Him to lay down His life for us; we have those to help us work out our faith in the here and now.

When I read Ardis’ post this week, I was nodding because she touched on identity, purpose and faith in her post.  Read it! You’ll be so glad you did!  When I got to this sentence in her post, my eyes just welled with tears: “As you enter into these last few days of Holy Week, remember who you are, and whose you are.”

Just as the pastor’s words struck me on Friday; Ardis’ words echoed and confirmed that sentiment for me.  As I hope it does for you!  And I think Ardis’ words will stay with me not just in the echoes of the Easter season, but all year round. Some would call this a coincidence; but as Ardis told me in a message: Coincidences?  I think not!  God is good to align these connections for His will and His ways.” 

I couldn’t agree more! It’s not a coincidence! It’s not a coincidence even that you’re all here reading this post.  And it’s not a coincidence that you share the love of God with others through your blogs and through your lives.  Thank you Ardis for sharing this post and touching our lives in this way! Read more about Ardis here. And check out her book, Journeys to Mother Love!

Journeys To Mother LoveEnter to Win

In honor of Julie’s selection of my post on Christian Mommy Blogger, I’m giving away a free autographed copy of Journeys to Mother Love.  Comment below or in the comments on my featured post, Holy Week, Holy People to be entered in the drawing. You can also ‘like’ my Facebook page or subscribe to my blog (in the right sidebar). One entry for each that you do–up to three entries total.  Entries close on midnight PST on Sunday, 5/4/14, just in time for Mother’s Day. (Shipped only to U.S. addresses.)

A Love Letter to Mom & Annual Tribute

I’ve come to annually mark the passing of my mother by writing her a letter.  This year I was at my annual winter scrapbooking retreat amongst friends—just like I was the day before I got word of my mother’s passing in 2011.  Again I was working on my mother’s tribute album.

Tribute AlbumSetting the Stage to Write

Three years later this scrapbook remains part of my healing process as it retraces my steps before and after she died—the visits back home, meeting with her health care providers, making end-of-life decisions, giving her eulogy, and burying her remains.  It is the visual story that was eventually published in Journeys to Mother Love.  It is a beautiful tribute album—not necessarily for others’ eyes, but something between my mother and me.

This year the anniversary letter was harder to write than last year.  After my arrival at the retreat, I was told that Wanda, the woman who has organized and run these retreats over the years, wasn’t going to be joining us.  Her husband who suffered with Parkinson’s had taken a turn for the worse and was put on hospice.  His end of life was very near.  It hit us all by surprise, and gave us an opportunity to privately lift her in prayer and share our own feelings about this sad turn of events.

Final goodbyesFor me the timing hit too close to home as our discussion turned to end-of-life decisions and the role women often provide in caring for our loved ones.  On the outside I was listening to the conversation, but in my mind I was back at my mother’s side caring for her at the nursing home on one of my visits back home.  It was as if my bittersweet memories from before were now being lived out by Wanda and her family.  Sadly, her husband passed away a few days later.

Embracing the Grief

It was in that context of grief, that my letter to my mother freely flowed through my fingers to the keyboard, and with it a few well-earned tears.  I know my mom can’t physically answer my letter, but something tells me she’ll find a way to let me know she received it.

Below is an excerpt of that letter.  I hope it inspires you to do the same for someone you love—past or present—and let your healing turn to hope.

Mom and kidsA Love Letter to Mom

“Dear Mom,

I admire your perseverance. You lived a long life. Fate hit you a terrible blow when you suffered your nervous breakdown at the age of 35, and me as well, when I was six. Our journeys to emotional healing both started that day.

Now 48 years later I am approaching mine in a new way, with a different battle plan in place. No more white-knuckling it. I am choosing to take medication (for my ADHD).

…Anyway, Mom, the point of all this is that your passing put all of the pieces together for me to even consider this route for me, and for my son (who also has ADHD).  I am now an advocate for him.  I am an advocate for myself.  I am learning more about ADHD and how to help both of us.

I don’t know what lies ahead for us as we journey down this road on medication.  I don’t know what it was like for you.  I’m saddened that I never got to talk to you about any of this.  I’m saddened that I didn’t get to know you as an adult.  I’m saddened I didn’t really get to know you.

But I wanted you to know that as horrible as your life was for so many years after the nervous breakdown, the divorce, in and out of mental hospitals, etc. that it has served to help me to fight for myself and my son now. I am more open to trying and exploring how I can lead a more normal life with the support of medication.  I am taking back control of my life and my emotional health.

So I thank you Mom for not leaving me a legacy of mental illness.  You left me a gift that I get to integrate into my life.  That gift is the gift of perseverance and hope in the Lord through all things. 

I know what I am going through is important and life changing.  I know there are many others like me who have also suffered in silence as they lived in the shadow of mental illness.

I love you Mom.  Thank you for persevering to the end and giving life back to me in the process.

Love,
Ardis”

Peace to you and your family Wanda, from your scrapbooking sisters.

Peace to you and your family Wanda, from your scrapbooking sisters.

Updated 6/1/2014: Wanda’s husband passed away a few days after the scrapbooking weekend. Through a sad turn of events, Wanda also passed away a few months later. Remembering Wanda is the tribute I wrote to our dear friend and scrapbooking mentor.

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays and Missional Women/Faith Filled Friday.

You Can’t go Home Again, or Can You?

Have you ever longed to go back to your childhood home—one that your family left many, many years ago?  Did you dare drive around in the neighborhood or maybe even knock on the door in hopes of connecting with the new residents and maybe getting a chance to go inside?   Or maybe your childhood memories were too painful to even think of doing such a thing.

This kind of chance of a lifetime recently presented itself to me—and like so many of these life coincidences; I took it as a sign from God to follow where He was leading me.

Home Sweet HomeIn the Neighborhood

It was on my 54th birthday—also the day that my driver’s license was expiring.  So a trip to the Department of Licensing became a high priority on this day—not something I really had time for or wanted to do.  I made the best of it though, even deciding to wear a special outfit so my ‘mug’ shot might have a chance of being pleasantly memorable.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I took more than a mental note of where I was.  My childhood home was around the corner.  A few weeks earlier, I had pulled out my memoir, still unworked on since last year’s NaNoWriMo.  I began the painful process of re-reading it, but stopped after the first chapter, the chapter about my mother’s nervous breakdown and living in this neighborhood.  After that reading, I felt God nudge me to contact the one last neighbor who I knew still lived in the neighborhood.  But I didn’t act on it.

Or can you?

Or can you?

Although this wasn’t the home or neighborhood I was born in, I knew God was giving me another nudge, on my birthday, to pursue this last link to my childhood.  I’d been to this neighborhood before several times as an adult.  It was one of the first places I visited when my husband and I moved to the state of Washington about 25 years ago.  At that time I went so far as to meet the residents, the people who bought the home from my parents in 1966.

This day’s visit was to the neighbor’s house though.  The name on the mailbox was still the surname of a childhood friend.  Maybe, just maybe, I would get some more insight into the day my mother had her nervous breakdown and our life on that street.

I knocked on the door.  There was no answer.  I was torn.  Should I leave a note under the door?  I just couldn’t believe that God brought me to this doorstep without as much as an answer.

My Childhood Home

So I took the bold step of going next door to my former home.  An elderly woman answered the door.  I told her a bit about who I was, a writer, etc., and asked about the neighbor.  I was surprised when she invited me into the home and even offered me a seat in the living room.

Hiding behind the 50-year old landscaping lies my childhood home.

It was surreal.  I had just written a post about the events of JFK’s assassination on that day—my birthday—50 years ago.  And here I was sitting in the same room where I watched the unfolding of those horrific events in our nation’s history.  I shed a tear or two in the retelling of the significance of that home.

The couple was quite kind to me.  They gave me free reign of the house, asked me things about the property, and what it was like back in those days.  The house seemed much smaller to me than I remembered, but that isn’t unusual in light of the fact I was a mere 3-6 years old when we lived there.

Regarding the neighbor, I found out that he had sold the house and moved out a month ago.  Too bad I didn’t follow that nudge back then, I thought to myself.  But his dementia would’ve precluded his ability to help me anyway.

The street sign may have read 'dead end', but the events of the day proved otherwise.

The street sign may have read ‘DEAD END’, but the events of the day proved otherwise.

What Lies Around the Corner?

It was all so unanticipated—to stop by the neighborhood, to knock on their door, and most assuredly to be invited inside.  Their invitation and interest was a precious gift to me, one that I’m not sure they were really able to fully comprehend. Out of my gratitude for their kindness to me, I gave them a signed copy of my book.

Plan as we may, we never really know for sure what lies ahead in our lives from day to day.  What if God is calling us to something just around the corner?  Would you heed to His nudge?  Would you blindly do something that to outsiders may look foolish or presumptuous?

Some may say I have a habit of doing those things.  Others see it as obedience and trusting God when I embrace these chance encounters.  I’m just grateful that He cares enough to give me these little kisses from above, and that others may be inspired to do the same—turning their healing into hope.

In the end, I really was able to go home again.  And that really was the proverbial icing on the cake for my 54th birthday.

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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