A New Lenten Journey ~ Allowing God More Access

Here we are two weeks into Lent and I haven’t written a post about this time of year.  No big deal you may think, because you don’t recognize Lent or do anything special to participate in it.  Well, maybe it’s time you considered it.  Let me explain…

lent 40 days

Let’s Consider Lent

Lent is the 40-day period approaching Holy Week and Easter Sunday, usually associated with fasting, repentance, or sacrificial giving.  It is commonly considered a Catholic ritual, but I know of several local Protestant churches and friends who routinely participate in Lenten and Holy Week services, prayer practices, and such, just like they do for Advent (the season preceding Christmas).

This is my 5th year of actively participating in the Lenten season.  I’ve written about it several times: how and why I stumbled onto this practice, how it changed me and what I fasted from, and even about my son’s Lenten journey last year.  This year I was at a loss on how to change my Lenten practices, what to give up, etc.  I am again abstaining from alcohol and sweets.  Although, it seems to be part of an annual body cleanse now more than a strictly spiritual sacrifice.

Yesterday, I got an answer to how this Lent will be different.  It wasn’t about doing something different, it was about being something different.  The only way I can be different is to allow God access to my heart and mind.  And He gets hours of it in our weekly appointment at my sacred space.

He reminded me that after four years of dedicated weekly prayer time, that He has already transformed me from the inside out and made me into something new (yet again).  In our time together, He routinely speaks to me, guides me, and gives me peace.  He convicts me of my sinful ways and points me back to His will and ways.  (Although I do often wrestle with him when it comes to letting go of my grip on things.)

My willingness to enter the Catholic church over four years ago and start my weekly appointments with God have given Him more access to me not just at Lent, but year-round.  He reminded me that I don’t need to do anything different for Lent this year.

Seek Me in this Place

I am to just keep coming, keep seeking His will, keep listening for His voice, and keep writing about His messages to me—either in private or publically on my blog.  He will let me know when and how much to share.

Habakkuk 2:1 says, “I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost.  There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how He will answer.”

Oddly enough, my watchtower is in a Catholic church, and my guardpost is in the sanctity of its small chapel.

Listening for God at the guardpost (local chapel).

Listening for God at the guardpost (local chapel).

It started with the season of Lent five years ago.   I embraced the mystery of Jesus there, a very unusual thing for a Protestant to do.  He was stretching me outside of my comfort zone as He showed up and kept wooing me to seek Him there every week.

It changed me.  It changed my prayer practices.  It has also trickled into my family, has rubbed off on some of my friends, and is modeled in the groups I lead and participate in.

How are you Giving God more Access?

So the message I am sharing today is about doing whatever it takes to give God more access in your life.

Make time in your schedule.  Find a quiet place.  Read the Bible.  Pray.  Listen.  Record what happens.

Lent is a the perfect time to do that, and make this Easter not just one of those Sundays that you have to go to church.  Make it a season and way to give God access to your life in new and mysterious ways.  And you’ll never be the same again.

How are you giving God more access to you?  Where is your watchtower?  I’d love to hear about what you are doing for Lent.

Super Bowl 49: Dealing with the Agony of Defeat

I stayed up late into the night after my husband went to sleep on Super Bowl Sunday.  I surfed the internet and flipped the channels on the TV remote control for any news I could possibly find to help console me.  As strange as it may sound, I was grieving the loss suffered by our hometown heroes, the Seattle Seahawks, in Super Bowl 49.

SB49 score

It was heartbreaking!  With less than 30 seconds left in the game, Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted by the New England Patriots’ wide receiver Malcolm Butler on the 1-yard line.  The game was over.

Final score: Patriot’s 28, Seahawks 24!

Grieving the Loss

Shock, disbelief and disappointment filled the homes and hearts of the ’12s’, loyal Seahawks fans, across the city, the state, the nation, and the world.

Facebook was filled with posts from friends who were disappointed.  Most of them were also filled with gratitude for our team and the amazing season they gave us.  Some were quick to jump on the bandwagon of questioning the last call and why the ball was not given to Marshawn Lynch—letting their frustrations out on Facebook.  That play and that decision will be debated for years—and probably never forgotten.

MLynch SB49 comment

I didn’t feel like writing after Sunday’s game like I did two weeks ago, or like I did after last year’s Super Bowl game.  I was too numb and in a state of shock.  My emotions were also in a bit of a roller coaster.  At one point, I even wondered if I was living in some sort of dream.  Did that really just happen?

I soon realized I was rapidly experiencing the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  They are not just stages that we go through over the loss of a loved one.  It is what we experience in any type of significant or unexpected loss.

High Hopes for a Victory

I guess I had some pretty high hopes around that game.

Why was that?  The Seattle Seahawks have a great team of talented players and coaches.  That is for sure.  It was also their never give up attitude, their optimism, and how they connected as a team—like a band of brothers.  More than that though, it is because this team commanded such a high regard for its fan support (the 12s) and they openly shared about their faith in God.

RSherman tweet

I’m sad for the Seahawks players.  I’m sad for the community.

I’m also incredibly proud of the national spotlight that this team has brought to our city.  I’m proud of the sense of unity and passion that has been ignited in our community.

Facing our Failures

Naturally in the post-game interviews, the players were somber.  Yet I also saw tremendous courage, dignity, and humility as responsibility was taken for the plays and decisions made in the game.

The Seattle Seahawks are a class act.  (Yes, I saw the mini-brawl on the field.  Bruce Irvin was quick to apologize to the press and on social media.)

Two weeks ago in the NFC Championship game, the Seahawks stopped the Green Bay Packers from stealing the game and our 12th man joy.  On Super Bowl Sunday, it was the New England Patriots who ‘stole’ the game from us with their miraculous interception.  (Some might say that it was karma, but I don’t believe in that.)  We weren’t cheated out of a victory like in 2006 when the referees made some very questionable calls.  This was a fair loss.

Nonetheless, it was deflating; and it robbed the 12s of their much anticipated joy.

What do we do after a defeat of this magnitude?  Do we hide and lick our wounds?  Or do we stand tall and move forward facing the challenges that surround us?

RWilson FB post

How we move on with life through the trials and tribulations is what shapes us, defines us, and builds our character.  From what I’ve seen of our Seahawks, I believe they will persevere this storm and come back even stronger.

God is Still Good

The Seahawks gave us both the incredible thrill of victory and the painful agony of defeat.  And they are still winners who are worthy of our 12th man support, on and off the field.  They are leaders and heroes!

Thank you Seattle Seahawks for such an exciting season of football, for playing your hearts out, for bringing pride to our community, and for displaying grace under fire.

Whether we win or lose, God is still good!

Seahawks Pull Out a Victory with Attitude & Faith

I can’t believe what I witnessed on national television yesterday!  The Seattle Seahawks broke the record for a comeback win in conference championship game history.  Down by 16 points at half-time, they beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in overtime!

The anticipation was high in our city (Seattle), in our work places, in our churches, and in our homes the last week for the NFC playoff game against the Packers.  Confidence was high, and people were downright cocky at times.  It was all in good fun as we hoped for a chance to defend our Super Bowl Champion Title in Arizona next month.

Seahawks back 2 backPatience is a Virtue

After the first half of play, Seattle was down by 16 points:  16-0!  How could that be?  No team had ever come back to win a post-season game by that large a margin.

Who was that team playing on the field?  It was as if they were stripped of all their magical football mojo and someone else was playing in their place.  Turnovers…sacks…no first down conversions.  It was painful to watch.

But they say patience is a virtue.  Indeed it is.

The Seahawks won the game (final score 28-22) in overtime, scoring 14 points in the last 4 minutes of the regulated game.  They did it with special teams, an onside kick (something I had never heard of) and playing like I’ve never seen football played before. Even the sportscasters were in a state of shock!

I know a winning team when I see one.  And I know what it takes to persevere through hardship and fight to come out on top.

As I watched the game seem to slip away, I had a thought start to break through in my mind.  It was this:  “The game is being stolen from us!”

A Change in Attitude

It was at that point that I decided to get a hold of my emotions and start to pray for a shift in the outcome of the game.  (Later that night while attending a recovery meeting at church, the other women also admitted praying and how they saw God show up in the final minutes of the game.  It went from hopeless to hopeful.  It was a miracle!)

I couldn’t believe it when I started to see a rapid fire turn of events on the field.  The plays all started to go our way.  Even with Seattle still at 2 touchdowns behind and 4 minutes left to play, the sports announcers started to say that the game wasn’t over yet.

I’m not going to recap what happened in the last few minutes of the game or how Seattle won in overtime.  There are hundreds of sports writers who are doing that.  My perspective as a fan of football and a believer in the power of our minds, is that the Seahawks ‘never quit, never doubt’ attitude is what won this game.

Post-game prayer huddle

Russell Wilson and Seattle Seahawks in prayer after the game.

In the post-game interviews and comments, Russell Wilson, Seattle’s quarterback, quickly gave God credit for the victory saying, “God is good, all the time, every time.” He also predicted the game-ending touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse minutes before.

Russell was confident.  He bolstered his teammates throughout the game and he never gave up.

He is a true inspiration to others—his teammates, his community, and to kids everywhere.

That game was about to be stolen!!!!  It is not unlike what Satan does to us every chance he gets.

He plants the seed of doubt.

He puts obstacles in our way to discourage us and to tempt us to give up.

And after a winning play (insert accomplishment or whatever gives you pleasure), he tries to sideline us and steal that joy!!!

No Joy Robbing Allowed!

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks were not going to let the Green Bay Packers steal their joy, or that of the 12th man contingent.  They fought to the finish.  They fought the good fight.  And in the end if they lost that game, I would still have praise and pride in this team for giving us 12s the most exciting football game I’ve ever watched.

We know who wins the game of Life.  Jesus wins in the end.  So even during times when Satan wants to keep you down and steal your joy, remember it’s not over until it’s over.  Ultimately Jesus wins, and so do you.

Fight the good fight.  Don’t let Satan steal your joy in the process.

Seahawks 28, Packers 22, no joy robbing allowed!  We are Super Bowl bound!

~ This post is happily shared with Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays.

The 12 Days of Christmas & the Gifts from our True Love

Did you know that in many church settings throughout the Western World that the Christmas season extends beyond Christmas Day?  This post-Christmas period was popularized by the old song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” but truly there are twelve days of Christmas that are celebrated on an annual basis as part of the liturgical calendar.

12 Days of Christmas

The Epiphany

In Christian terms, the twelve days of Christmas are known as the season of Epiphany.  It starts the day after Christmas and ends with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6.  I’ve only become more familiar with it in recent years due to my relationship with my Spanish family and then later due to my adopted prayer times in the Catholic Church.  It is in celebration of the Magi’s (wise men’s) arrival to worship Jesus.

What is the significance of the Magi’s arrival (the Epiphany)?  Until that time, salvation was reserved for the Jews through God’s Covenant with Abraham.  The Magi were Gentiles (non-Jews) who followed the star in the sky from the East to worship Jesus.  They were the first Gentiles to worship him signifying that Jesus came to save us all.  We are also the Gentiles, and were excluded from the covenant.  In celebrating the Epiphany, we are celebrating our inclusion into God’s plan of salvation.

Spanish nativity scene (a Belen), photo courtesy of Pedro's family

Spanish nativity scene (a Belen) courtesy of Pedro’s family

Three King’s Day

In Spain, the Epiphany (feast day on January 6th) is called “Three King’s Day” (Dia de Los Reyes) and has traditionally been more popular than Christmas.  Spanish children look forward to this day and celebrate it with the receipt of presents, like on Christmas.  The giving of gifts on this day is a representation of the gifts given by the wise men, or “Three Kings.”

For children the fun starts on the evening of January 5, when the Three Kings are welcomed into the cities in a parade.  (Spain is known for its festive religious parades with ornate floats and statues.)  Children are rewarded with candies thrown out by the Three Kings along the parade route.  Similar to Christmas in America, children anticipate the arrival of the next day to see what kind of presents the Three Kings have left for them overnight.

Floats being prepared for a Spanish feast day parade, Toledo, Spain, June 2013.

Floats being prepared for a Spanish feast day parade, Toledo, Spain, June 2013.

Gifts from our True Love

Since Three King’s Day is celebrated by my Spanish family, I also make a conscious effort to acknowledge that day with them. This year, I’ve been making many observations since Christmas which remind me it is still the Christmas season.  It has been a deliberate slowing down of the season and watching how God is giving me daily experiences of His love, just like in the song, The 12 Days of Christmas.

It has been an amazing opportunity to witness God’s goodness in my life.  For instance, yesterday was the 5th day of Christmas and my True Love brought me three surprise encounters with friends.  The days before that, I was blessed with special family outings and meals, our annual family card game of Canasta, a wedding ceremony, a movie night out, and a Seahawks victory!

These haven’t been physical gifts.  They have all been experiences to treasure.  They are also reminders to me of how God wants to use me by connecting with others. That got me to thinking about the everyday gifts we receive from our Father in Heaven.

He is good; and yes, life is hard. 

With my ADHD, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other health issues, I seem to struggle with it every day.  But when I pause long enough to see the fruit of His love to me, I can see how faithful He has been to bring me through the ups and downs of it all.

Gifts from God

Farewell to 2014

2014 has been another monumental year for me.  I’ve had to normalize that my life keeps getting bigger and that the Lord has called me to go places and do things that I never dreamed possible for Him.

But with God all things are possible. (Luke 1:37)

So tonight when I celebrate the ringing in of the New Year, I’ve decided to celebrate the gifts from my True Love.  I eagerly embrace the coming of the New Year and what’s in store with arm’s wide open.

Happy New Year to my faithful readers, supporters of my writing, and to those who prayed for or donated to my call to share the gospel in Spain. You have all abundantly blessed me in 2014!  May you celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and the gifts from Our True Love every day in the coming year!

What gifts are you celebrating as you ring in the New Year?

HNY 2015

The Hope of Christmas

I got an early Christmas present yesterday that reminded me of the meaning of Christmas.  It wasn’t a physical gift.  It was the gift of reconciliation and forgiveness.

When we sit in a place of confusion, longing, or hurt for very long, we can wonder aimlessly through our days.  We can easily let our sin and negative thinking start to take over.

It is in those times of darkness that we have a choice to make.  Do we let our physical circumstances define us and dictate our beliefs?  Or do we believe what God tells us about who we are and His promises to us?

Who I am in Christ

The Hope of Christmas

How does this remind me of Christmas?  Because Jesus is our one true Reconciler.  He reconciles us to God.

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19, NIV)

He washes away our sin and makes us as pure as the fallen snow.  Yes, sometimes unbelievably so, He makes us Holy!

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18, NIV)

It is because of His birth that there is any hope at all of reconciliation and of healing for life’s hurts.  Jesus is our one true Healer!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7, NIV)

Jesus came into a dark world.  He brought Light and Life.  He brought Hope.

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)

Christ’s birth is just the beginning of the story.  It is the promise of what is yet to come.

He has come to bring us life.  He has come with a promise for hope and a future.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

His Kingdom will have no end.  If we believe in Him, we become heirs to that Kingdom.

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17, NIV)

hope for christmas

Making Room for Christ-mas

It all started with a baby in a manger.  There was no room for Him at the Inn, but that didn’t thwart his being delivered into the world.  It didn’t stop Him from delivering our world from sin.

With reconciliation there always comes hope.  Even if we don’t have the reconciliation or forgiveness we may seek with our friends or family at Christmas, there is a greater reconciliation and healing we can experience through Christ.

Are you making room for Him in your life?  Are you making room for Him in your Christmas celebrations?

Christmas points us to Hope!

May the Hope of the world fill you with Peace and Joy this most blessed time of year!

On Mission for God, Part 7 ~ Review & Gratitude

I am struggling! It’s not like last year’s return from Spain.  But I am at a loss on what to write about my trip and how to re-engage in my writing discipline since my return two weeks ago.

I’m not sure what’s up with that. Writer’s block?  Writing fatigue from the mission?  Spiritual attack?  Or just plain brain drain from the last eight months of intense planning and preparations?

The one thing I am reminded of is to have an attitude of gratitude. So I cannot help but write a post about how grateful I am to have experienced another trip of a lifetime.

My Week in France

I am grateful for…

  • The Air France strike. My flight from Paris to Lyon was cancelled so I took the high speed train to Grenoble instead.  That provided me with more time to explore Paris.  I attended mass at Notre Dame, stopped by the Eiffel Tower for a quick photo opp, and bought some souvenirs.
  • The invitation from my American missionary friends to come to France to share my testimony at their church. My hosts showered me with their generous hospitality and acclimated me to life in the French Alps.  We explored nearby villages by foot and scoped out some old cemeteries.  They literally took me to new heights (on a perch thousands of feet above the valley and on mountaintops). God took me to new heights spiritually.
  • The opportunity to share my testimony at the Celebrate Recovery meeting In Grenoble. I met women who resonated with my story and shared my desire for spiritual revival in France.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Week in Rivas

I am grateful for…

  • The invitation from Pastor Josh Fajardo to come to his church in Rivas and teach about Celebrate Recovery. I hadn’t even met Josh at this time last year.  God beautifully orchestrated all of these steps.
  • The opportunity to share my testimony in front of a Spanish audience. This also provided the opportunity for Rosa and Pedro to attend and hear me speak in their native language.  It was an amazing blessing!
  • The connections that I made with people in the Rivas church, old and new friends, committed to life transformation through Christ.
  • The privilege to announce that the Spanish version of “Walking My Mother Home” was published as a gift to the church in Rivas.
  • The hope of continued partnership with the Fajardo’s, the church in Rivas, and that CR will take root in Spain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Week in Madrid

I am grateful for…

  • The generous hospitality showered on me by my Spanish family, Rafa, Rosa and Pedro.
  • The hours of walking around Madrid and being able to physically keep up with it all. Some of my walks took me to sights I saw last year, but this time around I was able to appreciate them more fully and explore more leisurely.
  • The opportunity to visit and pray in several local churches.  I treasured each one and especially being able to attend mass multiple times.
  • The comfort and safety I felt with my family and in Madrid. I was able to explore one day on my own, taking the subway, meeting new people, walking to new places, and dining out by myself.  It gave me great freedom to experience Madrid in a new way.
  • The short visit with Pedro’s extended family allowing me to reconnect with a niece who stole my heart last summer and Pedro’s grandfather. We enjoyed the giving and receiving of gifts.
  • The ability to give signed copies of my Spanish story to Pedro’s family and that it can now be shared electronically with other friends and family.
  • The closure and peace I had leaving my Spanish family. I have no idea when I will see them again, but I am trusting the Lord to bring us together in His timing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Most of All

I am grateful…

  • To the Lord for allowing me to be His Hands and Feet on the ground in France and Spain, and for perfectly putting all of the pieces into place for me to go on this mission of hope. I am grateful that He stretched me outside of my comfort zone and has grown my faith in new life-giving ways.
  • To everyone who prayed for the mission (before, during or after) and for all of the generous donations that allowed me to follow God’s call to Spain.
  • To Timberlake Church for donating $1500 to cover the cost of CR launch materials for Free Methodist churches in Spain.
  • To the CR leader team at Pine Lake Covenant Church for sponsoring and supporting this mission across the globe.
  • And, to my family for taking care of the household for three weeks and supporting my call to Spain.

thank-you

Yes, today is Halloween, but let’s not forget to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving.  Let’s start a season of thanks-living.  What are you thankful for?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Looking for updates on the CR mission to Spain, check out the blog post series on the ministry site where I serve,  celebraterecoveryontheplateau.org or re-blogged here.

CR Mission Update 3 – The Seminar in Rivas

My time in Spain is coming to a close. I’ve walked what seems like a hundred miles this past week around Madrid and visited over a dozen churches and one Egyptian temple. Thanks to all who made this mission and prayer journey possible. I’m excited to see what God does in the physical realm next. Adios España! Vaya con Dios!

Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau

The seminar to introduce Celebremos la Recuperacion (Spanish version of Celebrate Recovery) was a big success! The people in attendance at the seminar were very open to this ministry and interested in bringing it into their churches or para church organizations.  The host church in Rivas, Comunidad Cristiana Luz y Vida (Light and Life Christian Community), is prayerfully discerning how to integrate CR into their cultural context and what their next steps will be.

View original post 1,166 more words

CR Mission Update 2 – Leaving France

Buenos dias! I’m winding down my time with the church in Rivas, Spain. The Celebrate Recovery seminar here was a big success. People were moved and interested in the ministry. Please continue to pray for churches and organizations in attendance, how to support them, and what the next steps are. Thank you for your prayers and support of this mission. Hasta la vista!

Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau

On my last mission update, I (Ardis Nelson, member of the CR leader team at PLCC) was preparing to give my testimony at the Celebrate Recovery meeting at the Klein’s church (E.P.E.G.E.) in Grenoble, France. That was my last full day in France, so the day was spent in preparation to travel to Spain and also working on our bi-lingual PowerPoint presentation for the seminar. There were lots of spiritual attacks on both fronts.

View original post 639 more words

A Question of Sanity: Mental Health & the Church

A week after the sad news that actor and comedian Robin Williams took his own life, the shock has worn off. His suicide has brought a lot of talk to the forefront about mental health issues. That’s about the only good that can really be said about something as tragic as this.

robin-williams-quoteQuestioning Our Sanity

It also goes to show that you never know what will drive a person to take such a drastic and irrevocable act. I’ve had moments in my own life when I’ve wondered how I was going to get through another day. I’ve also had periods of severe depression and questioning my own sanity.

In those dark moments, what has made the difference is my relationship with Jesus. I long to be with Him, but not at the expense of what it would cause my family. That is what I think in my rational moments.

When you suffer with mental illness or depression it is easy to get caught up in negative thinking and feeling like there is no way out.

Over the past few years since the healing of my mother wound, I’ve become free of a lot of the ‘demons’ and internal voices that wanted me to believe I was not sane, too different, too emotional, too whatever.

stop-the-stigma-of-mental-illnessA Change in Perspective

As I came to understand that some of my own compulsive behaviors were not necessarily defects of character, but were symptoms of my ADHD, I started to give myself more grace. And eventually I turned to medication—something I never could’ve done in the past. I watched what medication did to my mentally ill mother. It scared me and scarred me.

I’ve been on medication for my ADHD for over eight months now. It isn’t a panacea, but it has made a difference in my life. Better yet, my son’s successes with medication for his ADHD have turned his life around. Because of our experiences, I am now a believer in the need for medication. No more white-knuckling it for us.

Mental illness, depression, and yes, ADHD, are real health problems in our society. They have carried a stigma for far too long. Isn’t it time that changed?

Mental Health & the Church

I’ve been blessed to be a participant in and serve in Celebrate Recovery (CR), a Christian 12-step program that helps people deal with their hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Those hang-ups are often thought of as addictions like alcohol and drugs.

depression quoteUnfortunately, the general public commonly believes that CR is a program for ‘those people.’ Being in CR has shown me that we are all ‘those people’ because we all have some sort of struggle that we need Jesus’ help to overcome—including depression, anxiety, rejection, and struggles with shame and worthiness.

Because of my passion for spiritual and emotional healing and my affiliation with CR, I was particularly pleased to hear about a bigger movement in the Church to address mental health issues. In March 2014, the Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, involving Catholic and Evangelical cooperation, was hosted at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA.

Celebrate Recovery: A Safe Place to Share

Saddleback Church is also the founding church of Celebrate Recovery, where I recently attended the annual CR Summit. Just as CR has been one of the signature issues at Saddleback, Senior Pastor Rick Warren is also taking on the role of mental health in the church as a signature issue there. And John Baker, founder of CR, is developing new teaching materials to address mental health issues.

Your struggle is not identityI’m excited to see the implementation of this new information in our teaching materials. CR leaders are not trained counselors or medical professionals. As facilitators of spiritual and emotional growth, we are also keenly aware of how emotionally empty, depressed, or alone people can feel when they enter recovery. (We’ve been there ourselves.) We are on the lookout for suicidal tendencies and refer people to the help they need. Our chief focus is to provide a safe place for people to share their struggles, to feel accepted, and to know that they are not alone.

Depression feeds on isolation.

After a personal testimony was shared at the conference in March, Pastor Rick Warren commented to the presenter: “Your chemistry in your brain is not your character and your illness is not your identity. You are a follower of Christ who struggles with mental illness, but your struggle does not define you… Jesus defines you.”

Overcoming that kind of stigma and identity struggle is just one of the ways Jesus shows up through the ministry of Celebrate Recovery. It gives hope to the hopeless.

banner3

Looking for a Celebrate Recovery program in your area? Click here to find a meeting near you.

For more information about Celebrate Recovery or to read recovery related blog topics, check out CelebrateRecoveryOnThePlateau.org.

On Mission for God, Part 3 ~ Not Standing Alone

I just returned from the 3-day Celebrate Recovery (CR) Summit at Saddleback Church in Southern California.  The worship songs are still running through my brain.  I am totally fired up and excited to move forward in serving in this ministry.  I venture to guess that there isn’t a single person out of the 3,400 attendees who doesn’t feel similarly.  The Summit is like CR on steroids with thousands of people who all want to bring or advance this ministry of hope and healing at their churches.

CR Summit 138

On the Saddleback campus

International Mission Focus

This was my third trip to the Summit in my ten years of recovery.  My previous two trips were with leader teams from two different churches.  This time I traveled alone, representing Pine Lake Covenant Church (PLCC), where I now serve as a CR leader.  I was sent as an envoy for the international mission I am leading to Spain in the fall.

My focus for this Summit was to meet other CR leaders who run this program in foreign countries and learn as much as possible about their unique obstacles and cultural differences.  Although I’m an introvert by nature, for this 3-day Summit, I was a woman on a mission with a razor sharp focus–meet international leaders.

I attended the session on International Mission Strategy and a late night connection event with international leaders or others going on short-term CR missions abroad.  I hung out daily at the international tent meeting representatives from other countries.  On my last day at the Summit, I had a one-on-one meeting with the new director of International CR, Jana O’Guin.

Other Summit Activities

I am grateful that this wasn’t my first time to the Summit.  I knew the lay of the land:  my way around the Saddleback campus, my way around Orange County, the 3-day schedule of events, and the line-up of speakers.  Even with all of that though, the information never felt stale or boring.  It was all inspiring and encouraging with multiple sessions of daily worship, powerful testimonies of redemption, and a chance to laugh at ourselves through the biblical wisdom and wit of The Skit Guys, like “God’s Chisel.”  All of this time and money was a great investment in advancing God’s Kingdom abroad.

My favorite times were the few times I got to unwind a bit with some CR leaders over dinner.  One night it was with a group from a local CR that I met on my flight to California.  One of those leaders is also going on a mission next month to China.  My last night in California, I had a relaxing dinner with a friend who moved to California shortly after we met in CR at PLCC last year.  These recovery-related conversations served up good food for thought and were a welcome time of fellowship.

While at the Summit I also took time to meet with my favorite authors:  Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  I have been a big fan of their work since I first read “Boundaries” and “How People Grow” early on in my recovery journey.  We’ve met several times over the years.  (They’ve spoken at every Summit for the last 18 years.)  I could easily write a post just about each of their presentations.

I Don’t Stand Alone

My biggest takeaway from the Summit was that I am not alone in my Call to bring CR into another country.  Jana has been on over 25 mission trips into places like South Africa and Rwanda.  CR materials have been translated into 28 languages.

When I first started to tell other international CR leaders about my short-term mission to Spain, they eagerly suggested connecting my missionary partners in France and Spain with them.  These international CR leaders are pioneers in Christian recovery across the globe.  They have persevered over the years to break ground in their native country.  Often times they had to fund the translation and publishing of the CR materials in their native language as well.  Now it is Spain’s turn.

This is not an easy task.  It is not a ‘parachute’ ministry.  It will take follow-up trips to Spain by me, my missionary partner from France, or others who are experienced in CR and called to share this Good News abroad.  I’m grateful that I’m not alone; and I’m grateful that the path has been blazoned before us.  We’ll do our part; the rest is up to God.

CR International Map

Countries where Celebrate Recovery is established, developing, and has been introduced.

Mission update

This week I got approval from Timberlake Church, Redmond, WA to fully fund the start-up materials for several Spanish churches and for the seminar this fall.  That was welcome news on this joint church partnership with PLCC.

Only 6 more weeks!

Only 6 more weeks!

I’ll be leaving in six weeks, and the mission is not fully funded yet.  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?  Click here to donate online or fill out my contact form to support the cause through prayer.

If you live locally, I’m inviting you to hear me speak on Monday, August 18, 7 PM at Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, WA.  I’ll be casting the vision for the mission and sharing more about CR International endeavors and my Call to Spain.  Hope to see you there.

  • 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!
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 545 other followers

  • Recent Posts

  • Ardis A Nelson ~ Writer ~ Speaker

  • Most Popular Topics

  • Journeys to Mother Love

  • What I Write About

  • Songs Composed by Pedro Gonzalez Arbona

  • Copyright Notice

    © Ardis A. Nelson and MakingMeBold, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ardis A. Nelson and MakingMeBold with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

%d bloggers like this: