How Does Your Story Live?

When I first met Henriet Schapelhouman, author of “The Story Lives: Leading a Missional Revolution” over a dozen years ago, she was the pastor of Adult Ministries at a local church and a fledgling writer.  She invited me to join a small group Bible study she led.  I’d never been in a Bible study, but was at a time in my life when I was unsettled with my faith and seeking Him.

Henriet anoints Ardis' book and future speaking, September 2012.

Henriet anoints Ardis’ book and future speaking, September 2012.

Over a decade later, I can still remember when Henriet shared with the group about the publication of her first article in a Christian magazine.  I was so proud of her accomplishment and remember thinking how wonderful that would be.  I never imagined I’d end up writing myself or ever being published.

Henriet has played a pivotal part in my spiritual growth and ministry since then.  She commissioned me to lead my first recovery and spiritual growth groups at that same church.  She took me to my first Christian writers meeting.  Then at my book launch last fall she anointed my book and commissioned my speaking.

Most recently Henriet and I partnered at our first ministry conference booth to promote our books and speaking engagements.  When things were slow at the booth, I was blessed by opportunities to connect on a relational level.  In those times, we were living missionally.

Living Missionally

Living missionally?  What does that mean?  Disregard those thoughts about selling your belongings, moving overseas and preaching the gospel. That is not what “The Story Lives” is about.

Henriet and Ardis living missionally at the NW Ministry Conference, March 2013.

Henriet and Ardis living missionally at the NW Ministry Conference, March 2013.

We are living missionally when we are living out the Story of Jesus in our lives. We are living missionally when we serve Him in the ways we are wired—not just our spiritual gifts, but our personality types and our strengths.  (Henriet is a certified coach and trainer for Myers-Briggs and StrengthsFinders.   Check out Semper Vita Institute for more information.)  By knowing our own unique wiring, we can determine how best to live a life that abundantly gives back and to serve in our sweet spot (or productively work in secular employment as well).

One of the key principles in “The Story Lives” that has helped me is to not be limited in my thinking of how I can serve God.  It’s not about serving him in the box of a church setting.  It’s about where God wants me to share my story and how can I influence His Kingdom.

Influencing Others for His Kingdom

I know I never would’ve considered sharing my story publically had I not shared my testimony years ago at a Celebrate Recovery meeting as a prerequisite for leadership.  I’ve shared it several times in those settings since then, but I don’t need to have that structure limit my publicly sharing my story.  My writing and blogging are now the primary ways in how I serve Him.   Another way is being open to opportunities like the short interview about “The Story Lives” done at Henriet’s book launch party.

The Story LivesThis summer, my influence and speaking are focused on Spain.  There are no Celebrate Recovery meetings in Spain.  I’m pursuing other avenues to share my story.  I don’t know what that looks like yet.  It may not even be in a structured setting.  I’m trusting God to open the doors He wants opened. I know that by just being there and living my life with the Light of Jesus that I am living missionally.

I’m grateful Henriet persevered all the obstacles and doubts that come with writing a book with such a powerful message.  We can all use a message like this as we grow in our faith and allow God to use us in the ways that He uniquely designed us.  I highly recommend “The Story Lives: Leading a Missional Revolution” as a gift to yourself.  It will ignite your desire to live out His Story in your life in a more tangible way.

Updated 01/20/2014:  Check out the book trailer below with the music of my Spanish host son and protégé, Pedro González Arbona

Necessary Endings

I am a huge fan of the published works and teachings of Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  One time when Pedro was in my office after I started writing, he told me I should write books like theirs’.  I laughed.  “Never in a million years”, I said, or something similar indicating how unlikely that would be.  He saw all of their books lining a shelf over my desk and said, “You could make lots of money.”  I laughed again.

Dr. Henry Cloud, author, speaker, leadership consultant & clinical psychologist

While I don’t see myself ever writing books like theirs, my writing is a reflection of their spiritual and emotional teaching.  After many months of on again-off again reading, I finally finished Dr. Cloud’s most recent book, “Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward”.  The title didn’t exactly compel me to read it.  After all, who wants to actively look at ending relationships and such?  It sounds like pulling teeth.

What caught my eye was the phrase “in order to move forward”.  Let’s face it, how many of us are stuck in a rut?  How many of us are repeating the same things over and over again expecting a different result?  That is the definition of insanity.

What this book helped me with was to normalize endings more in my life.  I don’t give things up easily.  I want to make sure I’ve given it every opportunity to succeed—after all, the Bible tells us in Romans 5:4 that perseverance builds character.  That doesn’t mean we should suffer for sufferings sake though. This book helped me to evaluate when initiating an end makes sense.

Dr. Cloud shares valuable insights on the difference between wishful thinking and hope.  Often times we hold on to something or someone because we think there is hope, but really it is only wishful thinking.  I love how Dr. Cloud gives the reader sound advice on these tough decisions.  The bottom line is that in order to end well, we need to be ready to move on and we need to grieve those endings.

I recently witnessed a great example of this principle in action.  When a non-profit made the decision to close down its operations, they invited everyone close to the ministry to participate in a farewell celebration.  The ministry was ending, but they took the time to celebrate their accomplishments and successes.  Some of these people will continue to gather and serve corporately even though the physical status of the ministry is closed.  This was a valuable meeting as it allowed the participants to get closure and, as Dr. Cloud mentioned in his book, to metabolize the grief.

I have had some difficult but necessary endings in my life this year—from work to ministry to relationships.  None of them were easy, but I learned a great deal about myself in the process.  As these situations were removed from my life, it also allowed new and better things to enter and grow.  I had to be willing to enter into the process though.

Endings are a normal part of life.  King Solomon, in all his infinite wisdom, left us with one of the most famous scripture passages about endings in Ecclesiastes 3.

The sooner we learn to embrace endings and move forward the healthier we will be—physically, emotionally and spiritually.  “Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud is a great resource to help with that goal.

Reclaiming the True You

Last year at this time, I attended an all-day workshop developed by Tamara J. Buchan, an author and friend.  The material she shared from her book, “Identity Crisis: Reclaim the True You” was so significant to me, I ended up partnering with her on the book marketing team for a short time before she moved to California.

The identity breakthroughs I had at the workshop changed my life.  I left the workshop empowered to do the unthinkable—to write a book.  Within a few months my short story, “Walking My Mother Home”, was accepted by Cladach Publishing.  The book is still a work in progress.  You can read about my identity breakthroughs in an interview Tamara wrote on her blog at tamarabuchan.com.

Tamara and I at the book launch for “Identity Crisis: Reclaim the True You”, March 2012

Tamara’s book, “Identity Crisis: Reclaim the True You” takes readers through an identity journey which starts with our true purpose and moves to God’s invitation to become his adopted child in the  family of God.  Throughout the book, Tamara challenges us to change our minds about our true identity and to not accept the “orphaned” status that we so often cling to in our daily lives.

Each chapter reveals key principles that help to breakdown the internal barriers and lies we believe about ourselves.  At the end of each chapter, Tamara provides reflection topics and hands-on experiences that help to integrate the teaching through our minds and into our hearts.

I love how the last chapter reviews key points from the previous chapters.  It ties all of the identity roles together and ends with a call to action.  When I reviewed the various identities, it was confirmation of how I’ve been walking out my new identity and re-purposed my writing and speaking for Him.

Tamara’s words in the book are not just words on the page.  They are an invitation to living life differently—to not remain stuck in our heads or full of doubt.  It is an invitation to move forward and live our lives as God designed.

Having worked with and been mentored by Tamara has given me a unique firsthand perspective to witness how Tamara lives her life by these principles.  I have seen Tamara cling to her identity no matter what the circumstances might be.  In the face of life’s unpleasant and painful circumstances, I too, want to be able to stand tall and still declare my identity in Christ.

I was blessed to be able to attend one of Tamara’s workshops as well as read the book.  Earlier this year, Tamara moved from the Seattle area to the San Francisco area.  She is a gifted speaker and holds retreats, workshops, and speaking events that revolve around the spiritual truths in her book.

Regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey, as a long time follower of Christ or a new Believer, I highly recommend reading Tamara’s book, “Identity Crisis: Reclaim the True You”.  Her book will challenge you to start thinking differently and to break free from the bonds that are holding you back from becoming all that God designed you to be.

  • 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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    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29, 2018
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