On Mission for God, Part 5 ~ Getting Nervous

There it is—that old familiar feeling of fear. This time it is accompanied by the old mantra that I’ve struggled to banish from my mind for the last few years…  “I don’t know what I’m doing.”  It’s been months since it’s surfaced.  Yes, there have been doubts along the way.  But now…I leave in less than two weeks!  I think Satan is up to his little tricks again.

god-is-in-control1

The Need to Control

One of the reasons this is so hard for me is because it triggers many of the issues that brought me to my knees and to my first Celebrate Recovery meeting ten years ago—my workaholism, perfectionism and need to control.  I’m stumbling over them again as I try to fit in all that needs to be done before I leave (what I want done).

It is a struggle to let go and let God. This is the biggest layer of letting go and trusting God that I’ve ever had to do.  It is one of the biggest sacrifices that I’ve ever had to do in a ministry setting as well.

But isn’t that the way God works?  He is always stretching us and chiseling us to be more like Jesus.

 

Check out God’s Chisel (above video), by the Skit Guys, based on this very message.  They perform regularly at the annual CR Summit at Saddleback Church, where I saw them last month.

The Loneliness

Although I am partnered with two male missionary colleagues across the world, it feels like a very lonely call to me. Our connections are limited by a 9-hour time difference and other work and ministry commitments.  We each have our own roles in the mission.

My partner in France is working on the training materials.  My partner in Spain is organizing and hosting the seminar at his church.  I’m up to my eyeballs in fund raising, speaking, writing, and preparing to leave the country for three weeks.

My French missionary partner preparing Spanish training materials.

My French missionary partner preparing Spanish training materials.

My loneliness partly stems from working in isolation at home. But it also is highly triggered every time I send out an appeal for donations or prayer support.  I hate asking.  I hate facing the silence (and perceived rejection).

It triggers the abandonment issues of my past and brings my little Ardis screaming to the surface.  Last week my angst over this sent me to my counselor for a short session to look at more unresolved hurts.  The tears naturally came like I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Little Ardis is scared about taking these steps into the unknown.  She remembers what happened last year—the culture shock and not having a voice.  Adult Ardis is soothing her.  SHE is trusting God and taking steps of faith.

Normalizing the Growth Process

The stress I am under right now is normal for this type of situation. I am facing a lot of ambiguity.  I have since I started down this road four years ago when I reached out to Rosa and stepped into the healing of my mother wounds.  I have had to normalize so many things in my life since then—a family connection in Spain, my writing ministry, Pedro’s film composing pursuits, and now out of the blue, being called into missions.

growing-pains

And with growth comes pain.

That is a big part of the message I want to convey in France and Spain. In order to change our patterns of behavior and face the hurts that are keeping us from living the life that God intends, we have to embrace the pain.  It is not easy.  It takes time.  It takes courage—lots of it.

When you use the biblical 12-steps of Celebrate Recovery as your guide, Jesus is with you every step of the way. Once you start to notice the change, you don’t want to go back.

It brings Freedom!  It brings Hope!

So, yes, I am getting nervous. It is normal.  I’m not going to let it stop me or slow me down.  I know that God has called me to do this—regardless of the outcome.  It’s in His hands.

He told me to “GO.”  I need His permission not to go.

mission

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19, NIV)

Please join me in prayer for this mission (September 24 – October 16, 2014) for the Word to take root and start a renewal of spiritual growth in France and Spain.

On Mission for God, Part 2 ~ Surprise Me, God

In Part 1 of this series on my mission trip to Spain in the fall, I wrote how I was taking a leap of faith with my public announcement and asking for donations.  I’m happy to report that my prayers were answered; I am walking on solid ground.

Actually I will be flying through the air nine weeks from today, on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.  (I’m starting my countdown calendar on the right sidebar of my site.)  However, I won’t be flying to Spain, not directly anyway…

number 9

Counting down–9 weeks until I leave on mission.

Praying for the Mission

My prayer all along has been to align my will with God’s will for this mission, for spiritual revival in Spain, and for the timing of the mission to align with His timing.  As a person who used to earn my pay as a project manager, it is often hard for me to let go of control when working in ministry settings.

In early June, I sent out an appeal letter to friends and family to support my mission, as well as emails, and the public announcement on my blog.  Then I was inundated with family commitments and travel that pushed all of my preparations for Spain on the backburner.

I know that was God’s way of building my trust muscle.  Not only that, I chose to take myself out of the reporting of any updates on who was contributing to the mission and how much.  I didn’t want my attention on any mission planning or obligations.  I released it all to Him and began to pray a new prayer:  “Surprise me, God!”

I wanted and NEEDED God to surprise me.  Surprise me He did…in multiple ways.

Surprise me GodGod’s Amazing Surprises

My first surprise was how God has already provided a large portion of the financial provision needed for the mission.   So far, donations are $2,125 including the $1,000 match by Celebrate Recovery at Pine Lake Covenant Church, who is sponsoring the mission.  That was truly welcome news—allowing me to purchase my airfare last week!

I also received word that the 10-day organized prayer journey segment of my mission was postponed until 2015.  As a prayer warrior for Spain, that came as a bit of a disappointment to me. However, when God closed that door, He opened another—a really BIG surprise.

I was able to accept a long-standing invitation to speak at a church in Grenoble, France, where my mission partner (and American missionary), Marvin Klein, lives.  I will arrive in France one week before the CR conference in Spain, giving us time to prepare for the conference and to travel together with him and his wife to Madrid.

CR internationalRevised Mission

While the second surprise dramatically changed the physical itinerary of the mission, it did not change the timing or focus for the CR conference in Spain.  In fact, it supplements it and builds on that in new ways.  Not only am I and PLCC CR investing in a partnership with Spain, we are also building on our relationship with Marvin, in France, and possibly other areas where he has global connections.

The revised itinerary also provides more dedicated time at the church in Rivas, with leaders and at prayer meetings.  While I prayed globally for unity in God’s Church in Spain last summer, and for spiritual revival in their country, I didn’t have opportunities to pray one on one with people.  I know the Lord is answering that desire of my heart through this new avenue—His surprise for my time in Spain.

Next Mission Steps

In preparation for the mission I am attending the annual Celebrate Recovery Summit at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.  I will also be speaking at the CR meeting at Pine Lake Covenant Church on Monday, August 18 at 7 PM.  I will share more information about my Call to Spain, provide a mission update, and share new training information from the Summit.

Click on above image to donate to the mission.

Click on above image to donate to the mission.

This mission is still not fully funded.  With the revised itinerary, the new donation goal now stands at $3,000 (a reduction of 25% of the original estimates) to cover travel, meals, and materials to hold the conference.  Won’t you please consider giving to this mission of hope and healing—not just for Spain, but to share the message in France as well?

Please Join God’s Work Abroad

The easiest way to donate is to use the secured giving link that directs all monies to the church for the mission.  All donations through this link or mailed directly to the church (information here) are tax deductible.

This mission is also in need of prayer support.  To pray for the mission now and while we are traveling and teaching, fill out my contact form on this site.   My on-going prayer request is for the remaining financial provision to be secured in advance of the trip, for protection and safety for our travels, and for receptivity to the CR materials and spiritual revival in Spain and France.

Surprise me, God!  Surprise us all!

I invite you join God in what He is doing in Spain and France by supporting and praying for this mission, and you too can plant seeds of change across the world.

 

Now the Lord had said to Abram, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1, NIV)

Holy Week, Holy People

Holy Week—the pinnacle of the Christian faith. It starts with Palm Sunday—the remembrance of Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem on a donkey while surrounded by crowds cheering ‘Hosanna’. It ends on Easter Sunday, with the Good News of the empty tomb. He is risen!  In between is the story of sacrificial love and gruesome suffering that led to the exchanged lives that Believers in Christ receive.Holy Week Faith Matters

It is not unusual for my mind to be on matters of Christian faith. I am not a trained pastor. I haven’t attended seminary. I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar. So why would I spend time on Holy Week sitting down to write a post about it?

It is because FAITH matters! And YOU matter to God!

If you are anything like me, you may not have grown up believing that, or maybe you still have doubts about it to this day. The root of that doubt doesn’t lie with God. It lies to a large degree with the formation of your identity as a young child and your family of origin.

You matter to God

Childlike Faith

In Luke 18:16-17, Jesus says “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Was Jesus excluding adults in His Kingdom? No, He was reminding us of the innocence of a child. He was telling us to trust—a characteristic that we often lose in childhood due to shame, disappointments, emotional wounds, abuse, etc. This mistrust or absence of innocence can be brought on by a traumatic incident and sudden loss, or may be due to negative messages that over time we integrate into our souls as unworthiness. With those kinds of identity messages being heaped on us at an early age it’s no wonder we reject God or don’t believe we are who He says we are.  (I know because I have struggled with that myself.)*

My-identity-in-Christ

Who Are We?

We are Holy People!

Hard to believe?  Then consider the standard you are using to determine the validity of that statement. Are you believing the father of all lies, the devil (John 8:44)? Or maybe you are comparing yourself to the Heroes of the Faith praised in Hebrews 11.

Are you saying, “I’m no Moses”, or “I don’t have faith like Abraham?” These Fathers of our Faith ended their lives well, but they had many sinful acts in their lifetimes. Moses murdered an Egyptian and fled to Midian (Exodus 2). Out of fear for his own safety, Abraham passed off his wife Sarah, as his sister, allowing a king to take her as his wife (Genesis 12). These heroes of our faith were broken people who failed, but God still used them, just like He uses us.

Holiness

Proof of our Holiness

How can we consider ourselves holy? Romans 10:9 says, If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus sacrifice was the price to make us holy in God’s eyes. God doesn’t see our sins anymore. We are the ones who condemn ourselves and continue to act like or believe we are unworthy.

Still having a hard time seeing yourself as holy—or that God would consider you holy? I grew up thinking (mistakenly so, by the way) that saints were only those people who were canonized by the Catholic Church. However, there are many verses in the Bible that reference God’s people as saints. For instance, Paul uses the term saints over and over again in his greetings to the New Testament churches. When our time comes to leave this life, Psalm 116:15 tells us: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (New King James Version).

As you enter into these last few days of Holy Week, remember who you are, and whose you are. Your holiness was paid for with a price. The proof is in the empty tomb. He is risen indeed!

Empty Tomb

*For a great book on our identity in Christ, read Identity Crisis: Reclaim the True You by Tamara J Buchan, or better yet, attend one of her amazing retreats.

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

 

Qualified or Called, Part 2 ~ Learning to Lead

It was two years ago that the Celebrate Recovery (CR) ministry launched at my church. I had dreamed and prayed for this ministry to launch there for years, but was never given the go-ahead. Now a team was in place, thanks to the arrival of Marvin and Lisa, missionaries from France who were planning a launch of this same ministry there.

On a spiritual high, at the CR 1-day conference in Portland, OR, February 2012.

On a spiritual high, at the CR 1-day conference in Portland, OR, February 2012.

The Highs & Lows of Ministry Leadership

Marvin was the ministry head, and I served as the trainer on the team. I’ll never forget the sheer joy I felt when the team all went to a CR conference together a few weeks before the launch. I had been to several CR conferences in the past, but never one representing my own church. It was such a spiritual high.

However, launching a recovery ministry like CR isn’t (wasn’t) all fun and games. There were a lot of spiritual attacks to me personally and to much of the team. We were on the battlefront in the war to take back people’s lives from the throes of addiction, abuse, rejection, depression, and hopelessness. As distressing as those experiences were, they helped to build my faith and trust God in bigger ways.

It was a difficult decision to leave that ministry later that year. However, with the release of my first book, God made it pretty clear He was stretching me in new ways and wanted to use my voice in the publishing arena.

Giving my CR testimony, March 2014.

Giving my CR testimony, March 2014.

A New Testimony to Share

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this 2-part series, I recently re-wrote my testimony. I never publically shared my testimony at my church, where I served on the CR launch team. It was something I had dreamed and hoped would happen when that ministry was forming. When the circumstances and timing didn’t align for that to happen, I trusted God’s purposes.

Then a few weeks ago, I gave my testimony for the first time since the launch of that ministry—not at my church, but at another where I serve on a CR leader team made up of individuals from multiple churches. As I re-wrote my testimony to share that night, I more fully understood the reasons behind this timing and venue to publically share my testimony.

I am now being called into a new territory to share the Good News of the Gospel. It is through Celebrate Recovery. It is not in Washington State. It is not even in the United States. It is in Spain.

Josh Fajardo, pastor from Spain visits a local CR meeting, March 2014.

Josh Fajardo, pastor from Spain visits a local CR meeting, March 2014.

Alignment of God’s Timing

The chain of events that led to this opportunity had seeds in several connections and God orchestrated meetings over the past few years. It started with Pedro, an exchange student from Spain who lived with my family in the summer of 2010. Then I met Marvin, the French missionary, who asked me to be on the CR team at my church. Marvin in turn introduced me to Josh Fajardo, a Spanish pastor and missionary, whose church I attended while I was in Madrid last summer.

Josh was in Seattle recently visiting local CR meetings and talking to pastors about this program. I was honored by his attendance the night I gave my testimony at the ministry where I now serve. We are jointly pursuing opportunities to partner with bringing this ministry to Madrid. I have high hopes of a mission trip to Spain—maybe in the fall, but most assuredly when the timing is right and God’s provision is in place.

All of these things seem so unlikely to me—the ups and downs I’ve persevered to get to this point. They don’t make any sense unless I keep the lens of His eternal purpose in my mind. I believe I am called for a time such as this. God has been putting these pieces in place since before time began.

Attending to last minute details for the CR ministry kick-off meeting, with Marvin, March 2012.

Attending to last minute details for the CR ministry kick-off meeting, with Marvin, March 2012.

Qualified or Called?

After ten years of recovery and going all in for the Lord, my ministry resume is full of training and conferences I’ve attended. It’s full of groups I led, and times I shared my testimony. The one thing missing is an official degree or letters behind my name that qualifies me in the work world to do this.

Ultimately what qualifies me for this Call is my testimony of faith and the ever increasing challenges that the Lord has walked me through. I have a B.A. in Business Administration; I have a master’s degree in Brokenness. It is based on His biblical principles to be a Light unto others.

So Marvin and I are joining forces again, along with Josh, to build a team, and embark on a new area of ministry, into more uncharted territory. With God as our guide, who can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)

Prayer is definitely appreciated as we seek God’s will and ways to train and launch this ministry of Hope in Spain.

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

What if His People Prayed, Part 1 ~ One by One

I’ve had people tell me how they admire my walk of faith or how I diligently spend so much time in prayer.  In truth, it feels like it is not nearly enough.  I do spend hours during that weekly appointment time with God I referenced in my last post.  But on a daily basis, my prayers are much less fervent or disciplined.  It’s not for lack of trying.

I admire those who get up early, spend time with God on a daily basis, or just live minute by minute trusting the Lord and feeling His Presence.  That is my greatest desire—to feel His Presence with me all of the time—and to turn to Him for every little thing.  I know people like that, but it’s not me—not yet.

Child PrayingBeing Taught to Pray

But outside of the “Lord’s Prayer” (which is rarely prayed in Protestant group settings), where are we taught to pray?  How do we pray?

From an early age, we may have been taught this short classic bedtime prayer from the 18th century, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”  I know I heard it as a child.  It gave me a sense of comfort to know that God was listening and taking care of me.

Growing up Catholic, all I knew was the “Lord’s Prayer” and the “Hail Mary.”  I don’t remember being taught to pray on my own and never prayed my personal prayers out loud.  When I joined my first Bible study over a decade ago, I started to stretch outside of my comfort zone and got used to speaking what was in my heart.  In time it became more natural and was easier to get in touch with the Holy Spirit’s leading.

What if His People Prayed?

It was around that time that I started to listen to contemporary Christian music.  A popular new group caught my attention, Casting Crowns.  It was one of the first Christian CDs that I bought.  Their song, “What if His People Prayed?” speaks volumes to the power of our prayers and the urgency of why I pray so strongly today.

That was over ten years ago.  I wasn’t a prayer warrior then, but I am now.  Those words ring so true to me.  So when I am praying in my weekly time at the church, I pull out my written list of people’s names and pray what the Lord brings to mind to pray for them.  It connects me to them in the here and now and in the spiritual realm.

IMG_6345bIf you’ve never heard the song, “What if His People Prayed?”, here’s a few of the words and the music video:

“What if the armies of the Lord
Picked up and dusted off their swords
Vowed to set the captives free
And not let Satan have one more

What if the church, for heaven’s sake
Finally stepped up to the plate
Took a stand upon God’s promise
And stormed hell’s rusty gates”

What if No One Prayed?

What is heavy on my heart today are the few people on my prayer list who refuse to acknowledge the God of the universe, and most assuredly do not accept Jesus as their Savior.  Some would say it is a lost cause to pray for them.

However this week as I looked at how long my list of names has become, I wondered, what would happen if I cut back on this list?  More specifically what would happen if I don’t pray for those two people?  Because of their family background, I came to realize that I am probably the only person who is praying for them.  They are lost, but they are not a lost cause.

WP_20140305_009[1]What if my mother never prayed for me all those years ago when I turned my back on her?  Would I be who I am today or be so bold with my faith?  I don’t pretend to understand the what-ifs, the theology of predestination, and how God works beyond our reality of time and space.  Yet He is sovereign.

I know my prayers are important.  I know God hears them and He is responding to them.  It may not be in the way I think He will, but I trust that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.

A Closing Prayer

And so I will continue to send my prayers heavenward for those God places on my heart and in my path.  Right now I am praying for you, my friends, family, and readers who I don’t know.  May the Lord give you a glimmer of His Presence in your life today and point you to Him in the days to come.

Who needs your prayers today?

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

An Invitation to my Sacred Space

Last week I entered into my 4th year of actively participating in the season of Lent, with ashes on my forehead as well.  No, I am not Catholic, as some might quickly assume.  I am a Protestant.  I do, however, attend weekly mass and spend quality time in meditation at a local Catholic church.  This practice started three years ago when my mother, a practicing Catholic, passed away shortly before Lent.

Ashes in cups

Cups of ashes from the Ash Wednesday service.

My Weekly Prayer Practice

It was in those first times of prayer there that the Lord showed up, gave me incredible peace, and started to speak to me in ways I’d never experienced before.  Those weekly visits became my Lenten practice that first year.  I’ve continued ever since, but not just for Lent.

Those first few months when I had one foot in my Protestant Church and another at the local Catholic Church were very difficult for me.  I knew God was doing something in me.  I knew/know that my identity in Christ was/is secured.

What I learned about myself in the process is that I am a contemplative, as described in the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas.  It is how I best get in touch with God.  I came to understand that it didn’t matter if I was Protestant or Catholic.  It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).

I was encouraged and supported through this spiritually growing time by Protestant pastors who accepted my unique walk of faith, and my not doing “church in a box.”  I was living missionally.  These visits to the Catholic Church also helped me to connect with my Spanish family and gave me a longing to worship in Spain, like I did last summer.  This has had major ripple effects in my spiritual walk and in God’s Kingdom in many ways here and abroad.*

WP_20140312_008Welcome to my Sacred Space

In light of my unique perspective, I thought I would share with my readers what it is like for me, a contemplative Protestant, to worship in a Catholic Church.  In so doing, maybe some of my readers won’t judge the Catholics so harshly, or maybe the Protestant Churches could learn something about this as well.  I am not advocating one way or the other is correct.  It is merely my perspective; and I am not a seminary student, an ordained minister, or a theologian.

First of all, I believe that no church can ‘meet’ everyone’s needs.  Yes, Jesus can meet all of their needs, but the way one church structures their church service, or the ‘vibe’ of the church, will not appeal to everyone.  I don’t think it is about structure; it is about content.  It is about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One thing that is consistent about the Catholic Church is that they all have a set structure or order to the mass.  They even have the same scripture readings in all churches throughout the world, as dictated by the head of the Catholic Church.  (Not sure exactly if that is the Pope or some organization under him.   As I said, I’m not an expert on this.  The idea here is that it is divinely revealed as to what scripture is read worldwide.)  Those scripture readings are published in various publications and online.

I have to admit that in the past, I was one of those people who felt that the mass was just a bunch of rote responses and prescribed prayers.  As I’ve come to view it and take it in, I see that it is a beautiful dialogue between God and His people.  One could just say the responses, but I prefer to contemplate and say the responses in praise to God.  There is also deliberate quiet time in mass, albeit, much too brief for my liking.  It is all a rhythm back and forth.  To me it feels like an invitation to encounter God.  It is a sacred time.  I covet this time and notice a dramatic difference in my level of peace when I miss it.

WP_20140312_004One last thing, because I’ve been asked and know people are curious.  I don’t take communion—not because I don’t want to.  It’s because I’d have to become a member of the Catholic Church.  I’ve had lots of dialogue around that topic with priests, pastors, and even bloggers.  Instead I receive a blessing from the priest.  (And that is a topic for another post, but you can check out a very enlightening post by a Catholic blogger that I follow and admire.)

Find Him in the Stillness

Well, that’s a glimpse into my sacred space.  If you are reading this post on a Wednesday morning, you could actually walk into the small chapel of that church and see me praying, reading scripture, or journaling my conversations with God.  My friends and family all know I’m there, interceding on their behalf and talking with God.  But now it is late Tuesday night as I write this, and I will turn in so I don’t miss my weekly appointment with God.

What are you doing to give God more space in your life?  I know that if you give him the stillness of your day, and seek Him, you will find Him.  I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. (Proverbs 8:17, NIV)

*Live locally and interested in what those ripple effects are?  You can request information about my next speaking opportunity through my Contact Page.

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

A Tribute to Mom, Part 2 – Her Final Gift

This week marks the 3-year anniversary of my mother’s passing. Last year I shared her eulogy on my blog. It continues to be the post with the most hits (interest). I am sharing it again to commemorate the sacrifice my mother’s life became for me. May it inspire you to turn your healing into hope.

Making Me Bold

When I started writing for a public audience, I knew that many of my initial writings and journal would potentially become published.  They were the basis for much of what I wrote in my story “Walking My Mother Home”, published in “Journeys to Mother Love”.  One year after the acceptance of that story by Cladach Publishing, and to mark the anniversary of my mother’s passing,

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Treasuring Christmas in our Hearts

Thank you Lord for giving us the birth of your Son as a reminder of what You are capable of. May He give us His perspective so that we may treasure up all these things and ponder them in our hearts beyond this holiday season. (Luke 2:19)

Journeys To Mother Love

Christ-NativityAt this time of year as I try to set aside the holiday rush and connect with the real reason for the season, I find myself wondering what it was like to be a witness to what God was doing in the lives of Mary and Joseph. The Bible doesn’t say what their immediate families thought about Mary’s claims to be a virgin with child. The only glimpse of unbelief comes from Joseph when he considers divorcing Mary.

Looking at how Mary and Joseph kept their faith in the midst of such possible ridicule and shame helps me to see how God operates in our lives. Here are a few ways that God reminded Mary and Joseph what He was capable of:

  1. An angel told Mary she would give birth—as a virgin.
  2. Mary visited Elizabeth and received confirmation of what the angel told her.
  3. Mary carried Jesus in her womb as a…

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A Grief That Can’t be Spoken

“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on.” No truer words were spoken with the loss of a child. Or sung. (Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Les Miserables).

Journeys To Mother Love

When my birthday rolled around this year on November 22, I was reminded again of the significance of that day in history. It was on my fourth birthday in 1963 that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and I remember it well.

I hadn’t heard the word “assassinate” before that day. The sorrow that gripped my family also gripped the nation. I didn’t like it. I wanted it to go away. But every day the television was awash in news stories as the nation prepared to bury our president.

Four days in history. Four days in mourning. Four days that shook our nation and the world, now commemorated 50 years ago.

My birthday link to the Kennedys left me with a fascination for this public family. I collected books and commemorative magazines over the years. The grief of the nation and the grief of the Kennedy family didn’t end with…

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Journeys to Mother Love, One Year Later

When my story, “Walking My Mother Home”, in Journeys to Mother Love was released on August 24, 2012 (one year ago) by Cladach Publishing, I had everything in place to position myself and the book for success.  I had attended writing and marketing seminars, webinars, and conferences, and launched a website and Facebook page.  I was ready to dive into the social media marketing blitz.  I held an open house and book signing as well.  It all fed into my hopes and expectations for financial success.  After all, I had a trip to Spain in my future, and no personal source of income to pay for it.  I was counting on the book sales.

Opening my first box of books, August 2012.

Opening my first box of books, August 2012.

Within days of receipt of my first box of books, I was at church in my sacred space with one copy.  I silently read my story and dedicated it to the Lord.  I asked for his blessings on the book, that my story would touch people’s lives, inspire them on their faith journey, and that none of this ‘fame’ would go to my head—the same as I have done for Pedro since his music went online.

I was grateful.  I was excited.  I was ready for anything.

The Highs and Lows

I have had a lot of amazing highs over the past year, partnering with two other friends who recently published spiritual books, networking at writer’s meetings, and so on.   At times, it was a bit surreal to me.  Yes, there is a bit of notoriety that comes with the territory and interest when people find out I am a writer.  Although I never tire of telling someone the story, if it seems appropriate, or I feel led by the Holy Spirit, I also try to keep it all in perspective.

A friendly book swap between authors, Emiko Hori and me, June 2013.

A friendly book swap between authors, Emiko Hori and me, June 2013.

I’ve had some low points in my first year as a published author as well.   The lows totally caught me off guard and triggered deep feelings inside of me—like feelings of rejection I thought I had already worked through.

Most authors and artists, if they were truly honest, have struggled with that at some point in time.  It is the push and pull of promoting, wanting financial success, and letting go of who buys your book and how many sell.

Paying It Forward

Once I learned to let go of that (and am still learning), I started to have more one on one encounters with people who were interested in the story.  I can remember each and every one.

I try to write a personal note to each person who receives the book and pray for the recipient.  Except for the online sales, I have photos of many people who received the book personally through me.  I photograph many of my inscriptions as well.  They are very personal to me and often feel inspired by the Holy Spirit.

This is but one way I try to pay the blessing forward.  The other is when I give the book away as a gift.  For instance, it resides in the library of Monmouth College, my alma mater—where I graduated with a B.A. in Business Administration, not English.  It is also in the hands of many of the staff at New Life Ministries, out of gratitude for their role in my healing.  I love that I can give something back in this small way.

Paying the blessing forward with Becky Brown of New Life Ministries, February 2013.

Paying the blessing forward with Becky Brown of New Life Ministries, February 2013.

A Year of Gratitude

As I finish this inaugural year as an author, I can look behind me and see God’s hand on each book that was released from my inventory.  I can see how He was chiseling away my inner parts that don’t reflect His image.  In return He has given me the gift of my story and the courage to share it.

Not including e-book sales or those through the publisher or the other authors, I know my story in Journeys to Mother Love resides in the hearts of people throughout the United States in Washington, California, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, and abroad in England, France, Mexico, and of course, Spain.  I am thankful for that and any future opportunities that the Lord makes available to share His story.

A friend reading "Journeys to Mother Love" while traveling in England, October 2012.

A friend reading “Journeys to Mother Love” while traveling in England, October 2012.

If you’ve gotten this far in the post, I hope you’ll indulge me the opportunity to thank all who have purchased my book, either directly from me or through Amazon.  I don’t have any knowledge of who the Amazon purchasers are (or receive any proceeds from that). I’d love to know if you bought it online though.  You can comment below or privately contact me through the contact form on my site.

Thank you for every purchase through me or my site, as it allows me to freely give it away to those who I sense really need this story.  Lastly, I appreciate the notes I receive, posts on Facebook, etc.  Please feel free to pass on any comments about the book or my story on my site review page, or support my writing by subscribing to my blog or liking my Facebook page.

Muchas, muchas gracias!

  • 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.

  • Returning to Spain

    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29th, 2018
    Vamos a España!
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