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

Writing: My First Year, Part 4 – Finishing Strong

Almost two months to the day I submitted my manuscript to Cladach Publishing, I received an email that my story was being accepted for publication.  It was the biggest confirmation possible that I really was on the right path with my writing.  Not only was I a writer, but technically I was now going to be an author.  This was such exciting news for me and worthy of a celebration.  (See “Waiting on Pins & Needles” for more information.)

Once the initial shock wore off, my mind was filled with a hundred questions and a new fear sunk in—fear of the unknown.  Thankfully I had a dedicated group of friends supporting and praying for me.  I also knew three authors, Tamara J. Buchan, Henriet Schapelhouman and Michelle Hollomon, who provided wisdom as I ventured into this unknown territory.

I nervously negotiated my contract with the publisher including the retention of the foreign rights in hopes of someday publishing it in Spain.  Over the last five months, I’ve had several conversations and emails with my publisher and been faced with numerous decisions along the way.

I’ve done multiple edits to the manuscript, had photos taken for the book (thanks to a friend’s time and talent), written a one-sheet (publicity document), sought endorsements (Steven Arterburn accepted!), and navigated my website set up.  With less than two months to go before “Journeys to Mother Love” is published, my attention will turn to marketing and promotional aspects of the book and facing more fears.

Over the past year, my writing has definitely taken me into uncharted territory and stretched me outside of my comfort zone.  There was a lot of time spent in prayer and physically spent writing.  The pain in my right arm and shoulder is a reminder of my devotion to this new direction in my life and my need for some self-care.

When I tell people about the events of the last year or that I am going to be published, I am often met with surprise and excitement for these bold changes in me and what God is doing in my life.  I’ve been told that my path to publication is not typical and that it generally takes years to be published.

I don’t say this to boast.  I have to remind myself of this because I know that it is God who has made all of this possible.  I’ve had to do my part, but I believe that He has put these dreams in my heart.  I believe He has given me these confirmations so that I will continue down this path.  He knew that I would need them to continue facing my fears.

Even though I totally sense God in the midst of this, that doesn’t mean it has been easy.  There have been lots of challenges and times of doubt.  When my doubts surface, I remind myself of His faithfulness and His promises.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

So from that day one year ago that I voiced my desire to be a writer, I’ve had to consciously choose to step into this new role in my life.  As I did I was also accepting my identity in Christ more and more.  In doing so, I have found freedom to write what God lays on my heart to write.  The foundational truth that I cling to is that God accepts me unconditionally even if and when my writing is rejected.  I’d have to characterize that as a pretty strong finish to a whirlwind year of writing.

Are you open to following God’s path for you?  Where are you partnering with Him in your life or where are you fighting Him?  What has He revealed to you along the way?  What’s stopping you from finishing strong?  I’d love to hear your story.

  • 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 29, 2018
    Vamos a España!
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