Trusting the Writing Process (Year 4)

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

4th annivMy 4-Year Blogging Experience

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

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

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

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

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

Blogging

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

The Ups and Downs of Traditional Publishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trusting the Writing Process

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

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

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

Maya Angelou quote

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

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

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

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

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

I know I’m worth it.

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

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

thank-you

The Last Time I Saw my Mother Alive

Mother’s Day 2015 marks the 5th anniversary of the last time I saw my mother alive.  As I approach this anniversary and invite God into my healing and memories of this day, I am struck by the circumstances surrounding that trip back home to Illinois.

Mom & me, first visit back home, November 2009.

Mom & me, first visit back home, November 2009.

Prompted to Visit one Last Time

As I wrote in “Walking my Mother Home,” my story in Journeys to Mother Love, the decision to visit my 79-year-old mother was a difficult one for me.  I kept her at arms-length for most of my adult life due to her mental illness.  The Lord had prompted me in later years to restore that relationship.

I hadn’t seen her on Mother’s Day for decades.  Her stroke ten months prior left her paralyzed and unable to speak.  She had been on hospice for the last six of those months.  The waiting seemed endless to me as my mind would drift to my mother’s suffering 2,000 miles away.

Out of the blue in April 2010 I got a call from a nurse at my mother’s nursing home.  Mom had bruising on her right leg.  It was either a sign of a worsening internal medical condition or uncharacteristically rough treatment by the nursing home staff.  An investigation was underway to determine the cause.  Either way, the answer was not going to be welcome news.

That call was the catalyst that sent me on my journey home to see my mother for the last time.

Not Quite What I Expected

When I arrived at the nursing home to see my Mom on Mother’s Day weekend, I wasn’t prepared to deal with the amount of decline in her medical condition.  The easiest way to describe what I experienced on that visit is to share an email I sent to a pastor at my church after my return.

“Thanks for asking about my mom.  The best I can say about her is that she is stable.  They are trying to keep her comfortable and free of pain.  Her leg is immobilized and will never heal.  They only get her out of bed once a day now—instead of twice—if at all.  She mostly refuses to be fed and is hooked up to a feeding tube.  She’s had that since November, but when I was there then I was able to at least feed her.

It was extremely difficult.  I didn’t realize how much she had deteriorated.  She said my name once.  One of the highlights of my trip was being able to take her only living sibling (a sister) to see her.  While my 50th birthday in November was an amazing day with her, Mother’s Day was quite the opposite.  I’m unsure why God nudged me to go, but I know I gave her some happiness for a brief time.”

My aunt praying for my mother.

My aunt praying for my mother.

Joy and Sorrow

I remember one of the fun things I was able to share with her on this trip was my change of hair color.  My own health condition had improved (chemical sensitivity) and I could color my hair again with a natural hair product.  The last time she saw me my hair was salt and pepper (shades of gray).  This time my hair was a vibrant red, not much dissimilar to her own hair color that I remembered from my youth.  I know it pleased her (and my aunt) to see it.

I left her with two physical gifts for Mother’s Day.  One was a bracelet, and the other was a 10-bead bracelet type rosary known as a decade, to replace the lost rosary I gave her on a previous visit.  They weren’t much, but I wanted to leave her with a small memento of my love and our time together.

A teary goodbye, May 2010.

A teary goodbye, May 2010.

Saying goodbye on this trip was much harder than before.  My siblings and I had such a beautiful visit and parting farewell with her on our last visit.  I didn’t understand why God would allow her to suffer like this.  Leaving then in December 2009, I thought her time was imminent.  Now on this Mother’s Day in 2010, I just wanted it all to end—not for me, but for her.

“Please Lord, let her pass peacefully in her sleep and don’t prolong this any longer,” I prayed as I walked through the hallways of the nursing home on my way to the car.  The next time I would walk these corridors would be to meet staff to plan her memorial service after she passed away nine months later.

Beauty from Ashes

My prayer wasn’t really answered as I had hoped.  God did orchestrate a beautiful passing for her though.  My brother Glen and his wife were by her side.  I was able to pray over her through the phone.  She felt my love as she left this earth, and she had it with her those long months as she waited for the Lord to take her home.

When I returned back to Illinois to bury my mother in February 2011, the staff at the nursing home gave me her personal affects.  After residing there for seven years, my mother barely owned anything, and there was nothing of intrinsic value.  One trinket that did make it home with me was the bracelet I bought her for Mother’s Day.  It now resides on my dresser inside the prayer box that holds some of her remains.

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The bracelet is tarnished and broken, similar to how I felt throughout much of my life.  But on that day in February 2011, I felt peace and joy.  Her passing helped me to see that she didn’t leave me a legacy of mental illness as I feared, but one of hope and healing.  That is what I treasure on Mother’s Day and every day since her passing.  God restored beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3) and turned my mourning into gladness (Jeremiah 31:13).

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.

Houston We Have a Problem

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since traveling to Pedro’s Tempting Fate* movie première and my (his) so called fairy tale moment that I last wrote about. I’m back to reality in Seattle—integrating what feels like another major milestone and its emotions into my life. Pedro is back in Madrid celebrating his milestone with family and friends while preparing for the annual family holiday period on Mallorca—a place I got to experience myself last summer at this time.

However for 3.5 days in Houston I had the honor of watching the dreams of Pedro González Arbona come true—American style. Since I know friends and family are waiting to hear about the experience, I’m sharing it here without further delay. Please humor me as this is not my typical post, and is longer than usual.

Tempting Fate Cast & Crew

The cast & crew of ‘Tempting Fate’, produced by KevStel Group, at the Houston premiere, July 4, 2014.

Let me start by saying that while the evening and the weekend was a big success and we had a fantastic time, there were also many challenges that we had to face—separately and together. But like most dreams, there is a fair amount of work and determination involved to achieve them.

Destination Houston, U.S.A.

Getting Pedro to Houston was no small feat. For months we had been anticipating the Tempting Fate VIP private screening. Since Pedro was coming from such a long distance of 5,000 miles, the producer tried to get his flight sponsored by an airline. When that didn’t pan out, I lent my support by contacting people I knew in the travel industry. Unfortunately, none of that materialized into a ticket for Pedro either. He eventually got the funds on his own.

When it came time to purchase my tickets, I deliberately chose a flight that would arrive shortly before Pedro’s. I wanted to be at the gate upon his arrival and take photos as he departed the plane—to play the role of his paparazzi, an ongoing joke between us. Besides how often do you get the chance to actually meet someone at the airport gate anymore (post 9-11)?

Hurricane Arthur trackingAs I boarded my flight in Seattle, I knew Pedro was on the ground in Philadelphia waiting for his connecting flight to Houston. His flight was going to be slightly delayed. No worries, I thought—that just gives me some time to catch up on my writing.

When I landed in Houston and turned on my cell phone, my heart sank at the news that awaited me. His flight was cancelled due to hurricane Arthur; the airlines had put him up in a hotel, and he would arrive at 2 PM the next day—a mere four hours before the movie premiere. I was disappointed and deflated.

Navigating Houston on my Own

As I finally headed toward the baggage carousel at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, I was reminded of my travels from Mallorca to Barajas (Madrid) Airport last summer. I was expecting to be met by a mutual friend in Spain to help me with my luggage and checking in for the American leg of my flights home. He was a no show, and I was alone, just like I was now.

Houston mapOn this trip, I had been looking forward to Pedro’s help navigating through Houston to our hotel 40 miles away in Sugar Land, Texas. As I left the baggage claim area and walked out into the night air, I was hit with more reminders of Spain. The late night heat in Houston was thick with humidity and made my clothes stick to my skin. Then, even with the aid of a GPS, I was frustrated and lost within minutes of leaving the airport in my rental car.

Grounded Planes, But Spirits High

That night my sleep was interrupted multiple times with ‘pings’ from international text messages by Pedro’s parents and eventually from Pedro as well. When I went to bed the night before, I was ignorant to the havoc that hurricane Arthur was making along the East Coast.

I didn’t realize that the entire Philadelphia airport was closed down!

Within minutes of communicating with Pedro that morning, my adrenaline kicked into overdrive and I got out of bed to start researching flight activity at Philadelphia International Airport.

“What if they cancel my flight again and I’m too late for the premiere?” he asked me. “Pray everything is solved.”

“Of course,” I said trying to reassure him and calm his nerves. I was already multi-tasking in my mind, praying while texting him, and looking online for flight updates.

Flights were back on schedule at Philadelphia International Airport.

Flights were back on schedule at Philadelphia International Airport.

“Thank you, Lord for your mercy and your ways. Help us to lean on you and see you in the midst of our challenges. Give us peace. Clear the skies, literally, part the weather, and bring Pedro to Houston safely.”

“Amen,” he texted back.

Surprise Me God!

As soon as Pedro ended the chat, I was on my knees praying. “Surprise me God” has been a recurring prayer request lately as I let go of my expectations and give God greater freedom to work His ways and His will in my life. In the midst of the challenges we were facing, God managed to surprise us over and over again.

prayerTap, tap, tap was the noise I heard on the door, interrupting my prayers. It was Pedro’s producer. Wouldn’t you know it that for our first meeting I was in the hotel hallway in my robe and pajamas! Ok, that was a funny surprise God! But work was to be done.

For months Pedro and I waited for confirmation on whether he’d be able to perform at the premiere. His producer explained that the event planner was still trying to secure a keyboard for the event. That was another God-sized surprise, but no expectations on my part. After all, it was the 4th of July! How were they going to rent a keyboard on a holiday?

“Surprise me God! And Lord, while you’re at it, just get Pedro here safely and on time for the premiere.”

Our Airport Reunion

Saying that Texas is BIG is an understatement—likewise for the Houston airport. As luck would have it, I got lost at the airport trying to pick Pedro up. Although he didn’t check any luggage, we were to meet at the baggage claim area for his flight. What I didn’t know is that Houston has a baggage claim area for each terminal.

No broken bones, just a bruised ego.

No broken bones, just a bruised ego.

Under normal circumstances it would’ve been comical, but not when time was so limited. I rushed through the airport tram system between terminals to find Pedro, falling and twisting my foot in the process. In pain, and almost in tears, all I could think and selfishly pray was “please let me be able to walk the red carpet with Pedro and wear my new high-heeled shoes tonight!”

Meeting Pedro at the airport was a surreal moment for me. It had been almost a year since we last saw each other—saying farewell at the Palma Airport on Mallorca. And now through a twist of fate and the Lord’s favor, here we both were in a distant location thousands of miles from home. I almost didn’t recognize him. But when I heard him call my name, I followed the sound of his voice to catch a glimpse of him smiling near the baggage carousel.

After the standard European cheek kiss, now my routine greeting with my American friends as well, we rushed through the airport, tram system and all, (I hobbled), labored over finding the car in the parking garage labyrinth, and collapsed in the car. But before we drove away, we pulled his suit out of his luggage so the creases could fall out. There was no hope for his shirt though—ironing that would be my first job back at the hotel.

Arriving Houston

The composer and his paparazzi, I mean manager, finally reunited on American soil.

No More Problems in Houston

As we settled into our familiar conversations about life and our travels, Pedro texted his producer that he arrived and we were on our way to the hotel. His reply was the icing on the cake of God’s surprises for the day.  The keyboard was en route to the theater.  We just had to be there early for a sound check and for Pedro to get acquainted with the keyboard.

It would be a tight schedule for us, but none of that mattered. We’d be there; we’d be on time; and Pedro would perform—one of his greatest desires for the event.

Pedro toiled on the Tempting Fate soundtrack for nine months. We both faced many challenges in getting to the Houston premiere. Over the last few months, the famous line uttered by Astronaut Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 (portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie), “Houston we have a problem,” seemed to be a recurring and somewhat comical theme; but no more.

As I rushed to dress for this Cinderella event, I marveled how we overcame each obstacle to get to this point in Pedro’s musical career. I was not going to let any more problems in Houston dampen his night. Even the pain and swelling in my foot was going to have to take a backseat to the joy in my heart. God was faithful and surprised us at each step along the way. We persevered!

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4, NIV)

Stay tuned for my next post about Pedro’s musical pursuits to hear about the Tempting Fate red carpet event, the movie screening, and Pedro’s performance.

*Wondering where you can see this movie for yourself?  Tempting Fate was produced by KevStel Group, an independent production company based in Atlanta.  They are seeking distributors for release in 2015.

Update 2/12/2015: The Tempting Fate soundtrack has been released and the movie premieres across Nigeria and Ghana in July 2015.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I borrowed the title for this post from the 1969 song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.  Not that the Rolling Stones are a source of spiritual wisdom or Godly counsel, but these words are in line with scripture.  The song goes on to say “but if you try sometimes, you might find, you’ll get what you need.”

Click above image to view concert performance of this song by the Rolling Stones.

Click above image to view concert performance of this song by the Rolling Stones.

I have one simple example that has been running through my mind a lot these days as we transitioned our son Evan from college graduate to gainful employment 500 miles and two states away from home.  It started when he was a senior in high school going through the daunting college admission process.

Playing the College Game

Evan had taken a very challenging schedule of AP classes throughout high school.  Before that he attended the full-time gifted program offered in our school district.  It was a place ripe with talk and preparations for students to attend the top colleges in the nation.

We, and my son, bought into that dream until just before the first colleges started to send out their admission decisions.  We knew the odds were not necessarily in his favor, but we also knew how bright he was.  After much prayer, I started to have an inner sense that he may not get accepted.

usnewsbestcolleges2012_360_191God’s Ways are Higher

The morning before the first decisions were to be posted online, my devotional reading was based on Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I knew God was preparing me for the rejection, which in turn helped me to provide guidance and encouragement to my son.  The rejections and waitlist letters came one after the other.  It was a difficult time for him, and for us.  There was much disappointment.

IMG_8136Four years later, with the clarity of time and perspective, we can see how God turned that heartache into a huge blessing for my son.  It started with an award of a scholarship and direct admittance into the department that he ended up majoring in earlier this month.  That major was not something he had previously considered as a career.  Yet this week he started a full-time position in his chosen field at one of the top companies in the computer chip industry.

A Lesson in Trusting God

Shortly after these events happened and while still in high school, Evan submitted an essay for a scholarship with the writing prompt of ‘trust.’  His essay quoted Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  While he wasn’t awarded that scholarship, his essay did reflect a humbling posture and ability to move on with a new sense of purpose.

I thank God that Evan didn’t get what ‘we’ wanted for him.  Instead our son got the educational opportunities he needed to succeed.  He (we) also got a valuable lesson in seeking God’s will and trusting Him.  He learned firsthand that the Lord provides us with what we need, and not necessarily what we want (from Matthew 6:25-34, not the Rolling Stones).  I hope and pray he carries that lesson with him as he launches into this new season of adulthood.

Congratulations Evan and to the Class of 2014!

Congratulations Evan and to the Class of 2014!

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

 

Life Lessons From the Seahawks

I am not a football fan per se, as I referenced in my last post, but the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl victory last Sunday and the legacy they are leaving, warrants another post.

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Inaugurating a New Football Dynasty

Ever since that victory, our city (Seattle) has been going crazy, crazier than before.  No one could possibly predict that the Seahawks would dominate the Broncos with what appeared to be such ease, by outscoring them 43-8.  For Seahawks fans, it was the icing on the cake, as it helped to erase the wounds from our first and last Super Bowl appearance in 2006, when so many Seattleites still believe they (we) were robbed of a Championship title due to poor officiating.

Seattle hasn’t won a World Championship title since the former Seattle SuperSonics NBA team won in 1979.  There has been a lot of fan heartache in this town in the last 38 years.  Wednesday’s mass crowds estimated at 750,000 people lining the streets for the Seahawks victory parade, put an end to the waiting and the disappointment.  It brought (or fed) Seahawks and 12th Man fever.  It brought the national spotlight to our city and our team.  It brought hope for the start of a football dynasty in the decade to come.  And it feels good…

Onward to Century Link Field (Photo by Rod Mar)

Onward to Century Link Field (Photo by Rod Mar)

The 12th Man Factor

How does a team like this command such attention and respect from the community?  How does it garner so much support from their fans?  It is because the Seahawks have cultivated a relationship with their fans and given them first class status by virtually putting them right on the field with the players.  They are The 12th Man!

Certainly you’ve heard about The 12th Man.  It is the collective name given to Seahawks fans.  Opposing teams dread playing against the Seahawks at our Century Link home field because we hold the Guinness World Record for crowd noise, a mere 137.6 decibels.

I’m not as crazy as most fans.  On the day of the victory parade, I chose to watch from the comfort of my home instead of standing outside in subfreezing temperatures for hours.

One friend who attended shared her thoughts with me:  “I observed how nice people are to each other if they have one thing in common – Seahawks.  It’s really touching seeing the emotions going around.  It was awesome and thanks to the Seahawks for getting families and communities together.”  Well said.

12th man flag Space Needle

The Seattle Space Needle is awash in Seahawks colors, with the 12th Man flag flying proudly. (Photo credit: Anthony May, antmayphoto.com)

Life Lessons

Putting all of the hype and hysteria aside, there are some real lessons to be learned by watching the Seattle Seahawks this season, or merely by watching the Super Bowl.  I’m not talking about football lessons and strategies specifically.  I am talking about lessons that can be applied in life.

  1. Why not us?
    By now, you heard this phrase repeated all over the media.  When Russell Wilson, Seahawks 25-year-old starting quarterback, was interviewed in pre-game and post-game shows, he repeatedly shared the philosophy handed down to him by his father, “Why not you, Russell?”  At 5’11” he was an unlikely professional prospect, but his father instilled a positive influence and confidence in Russell from an early age.  Russell shared that with his teammates throughout the season.  It permeated the culture of the Seahawks.
  2. Loyal Fans
    The Seahawks have fostered an environment of loud and proud fans with the honoring of The 12th Man by hoisting the logo ‘12’ flag at each home game.  This prominent display acknowledges the role the Seahawks fans contribute to a positive home game advantage.  The fans and players are united and bonded with a winning focus for each game—at home or elsewhere.  The 12th Man was a relevant factor in the Super Bowl, with fans not only from Seattle supporting the Seahawks, but also residents from the New York and New Jersey areas where the game was played.
  3. Team approach
    The Seahawks players modeled a team approach to winning.  Each game was viewed as a championship game.  The players were a collective force to be reckoned with—one game at a time.   In most of the interviews I viewed or articles I read it was pretty obvious that there were no egos behind the scenes or individual attempts to steal the limelight.  They led with positivity and humility.
  4. Gratitude
    The Seahawks were not only grateful to their 12th Man contingent, they were also grateful to God.  Russell Wilson (and other Seahawks) have made their faith evident in some very powerful youtube videos. He has openly expressed how he is using the talent God has given him and encourages the same in others.  His first televised words after the Super Bowl were:  “It’s a true, true a blessing.  God is so good.”  His gratitude runs beyond his faith though as he also gives back with weekly visits to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.

These are just a few of the lessons and the role modeling that the Seattle Seahawks have imparted on their journey to become the 2014 NFL World Champions.*

(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

When we embrace these positive characteristics and attitude, we can influence our world and our lives for good. And like the Seahawks and their 12th Man tribe, we all need a support team around us to encourage us, build us up when we fall, and keep our focus on our goals for success.

WHY NOT YOU?!

Congratulations to the 2014 NFL World Champion Seahawks, and thanks indeed for bringing unity in our community.

Seattle vs Parade Population

*No offense to Peyton Manning, the Broncos team, or their run for the Championship title. They may have modeled or exuded some of these same winning characteristics.  But for now, let’s just allow the Seahawks and Seattle to bask in the limelight and the thrill of victory.

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

Suffering in the Body | By Kim Amrine | Guest Post

About 2½ years ago, a light bulb came on for me.  I was re-reading Dr. Cloud and Townsend’s book, “How People Grow.” Dr. Cloud posed a question to a group of experienced pastors, “If you had to arm your parishioners with protection from sin, how would you do it?  What do you think is the best armor you could wear?”  They had many ideas, but ultimately he pointed them to 1 Peter 4:1:  “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourself also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.”(NIV)

 Caught in the Cycle

“Oh,” I said to myself, “this isn’t going to be pretty.”  I had been in relapse in my food addiction for a year or two, after some good abstinence for a few years.  I had just completed a one year healing/recovery group and learned what mother’s and father’s roles are, and what they should provide for their children.  I had stepped out of denial and started the grief process over the holes of parenting that were in my family of origin, including being the child of two alcoholic parents.

I was attending 12-step recovery meetings regularly, journaling, reaching out to others over the phone, and none of it was working.  A friend and mentor reminded me, “You are in the process of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 TNIV

Embracing the Pain

My relapse into food addiction and my internal pain brought me back into the therapeutic process, this time with a very seasoned and astute therapist.  It was here that I realized the only way to healing was to go through the pain.  I couldn’t minimize it, avoid it, rationalize it, or medicate it away using food.  These defenses were no longer working for me.

 The last 2 years I have been grieving a myriad of losses, deaths if you will—loss of my childhood, loss of the parents I thought I had, but didn’t, loss of many positive experiences in my marriage, loss of physical health and loss of internal peace because of my past.  I have denied, protested in anger, and cried until I thought the tears would never end. I know there are still more to come.

Letting Christ Transform Your Pain into Healing

Why do I bother doing this?  Because as one of my pastors recently said, “If we don’t let Christ transform our pain, we will transmit it.”  If I don’t enter into the healing process, my pain will either be turned inward – food addiction, depression – or transmitted and turned outward, projecting my unprocessed feelings onto those I love and care for.  My heart’s desire is to leave a positive legacy to those who enter my life and sphere of influence.

Jesus never promised an easy walk.  “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV) Out of death and dying comes resurrection and life.  I count on Jesus and the cross he bore, (and the cross that I am bearing now) to bring me through to a resurrected life.  I know that as I continue to grieve the losses of my childhood, that there will be new life on the other side.  And I don’t mean in heaven; I mean a resurrected life here on earth.

I have already experienced some of the fruit of this process of recovery and in my faith journey.  I am just going a little deeper now.  The Lord will redeem my losses, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” Joel 2:25 (TNIV) There will be redemption on the other side of my season of grief.  He is faithful and I can count on it.

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Kim & Ardis

Kim & Ardis

Kim Amrine is a grateful Believer who is passionate about healing and recovery.  She serves as Ministry Leader of Celebrate Recovery at Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, Washington, where she has led a number of groups.   Her other passions are being a wife of 37 years to Jerry, mom to two adult children, and working as a physical therapist.

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Note from Ardis ~ I’ve been blessed to walk alongside Kim and witness her courageous journey of spiritual and emotional healing.  She is a true model of vulnerability and taking the risks required to break free from past hurts, habits and hang-ups.

Thank you Kim for sharing your story of perseverance.  I hope her story encourages you or someone you know to walk through the pain, to the other side, and turn healing into hope.

NaNoWriMo Lessons Learned, Part 2 – Personal Takeaways

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is over, but my lessons learned will last me a lifetime.  Part 1 of this series was about my writing takeaways.

Lessons LearnedThe personal takeaways were gleaned from hours of writing, researching the internet for historical context, reading old family letters, reviewing old photographs, interviewing people (mostly family) and having heart to heart conversations with my stepmother.  There were many tears shed during these hours and minutes dedicated to writing my memoir last month.  Below are my thoughts on the personal takeaways from my month of literary abandon.

Personal Lessons Learned

  1. I can let go of a desired outcome.  When life or professional obstacles surfaced during the month, I had to make decisions that I knew would significantly affect my ability to reach 50,000 words.  I chose to let go of the word count goal and the coveted bragging rights that go along with it.
  2. I am not a failure or a quitter.  It would’ve been easy to give up when the obstacles started to surface.  Instead I was able to keep my focus on the higher purpose of my writing and stick with it.
  3. I’m not doing this for myself.  If I was, I would’ve quit.  It took an emotional and physical toll on my body, but I kept sensing God’s calling to continue.
  4. I AM doing this for myself.  Ok, I know that is a contradiction to #3, but it’s true.  As I started to see so many patterns and gain insights along the way, it became very prevalent how important this is to my own healing.  It was a gift to myself.
  5. God’s timing is perfect.  Ok, I knew that, but this confirmed it—again.  There were so many coincidences to things going on in my life now with the past that I knew God wanted me to see them at this very moment in time.  (Lots of blog and writing material here.)
  6. God was with me in the past even when I didn’t sense His presence.  He didn’t forsake me even though I forsook Him.  I knew that too, but got new insights along the way.
  7. I was not alone in the process.  I chose to not use the NaNoWriMo online community and instead relied on my friends and their prayers for support.  They were there for me.
  8. God has been equipping me to write this story and to serve Him in bigger ways.  I can and do trust Him to lead me on my writing journey.
  9. Finishing my memoir is not going to be easy.  This is going to take a long time—maybe years—to write, edit, publish, etc.  I need to be patient and consistent—like the tortoise, not like the hare.Writing
  10. I learned that I really do love to write—even though my brain was a bit fried at times—especially after my push the last week of the month.
  11. I have a greater sense of gratitude for the transformation that God has worked in me over the years.  This past month my writing forced me to face many low periods in my life.  I am grateful He has redeemed it and made me whole.

While NaNoWriMo is over, my memoir writing isn’t.  I’m taking December off from my memoir, but not from writing.  In January I will continue with Chapter 7 and my writing pilgrimage—at a much slower pace.  Along the way, I know God will show up and continue to turn my healing into hope.

To Persevere or Let Go?

My family started geocaching a few years ago.  Geocaching is a recreational activity that uses a GPS to go on treasure hunts all over the world.  It has been a great pastime that allows us to take in the sights, get some exercise and explore places we never would’ve gone before.   (See gecocaching.com for more information.)

After church on Sunday, my husband and I took advantage of a glorious sunny afternoon in the Pacific Northwest to go on the hunt for a few local geocaches.  We hadn’t eaten lunch and we didn’t have a lot of time, but we ventured to a nearby park to make what we thought were some easy “finds”.  (That’s geocaching lingo for having found the hidden treasure.)  We thought these would be easy finds because geocaches are rated for their level of difficulty to find and the level of the difficulty of the terrain.  This was a “1” on both scales.

Geocropmom, aka Ardis Nelson, with a typical geocaching container.

We reviewed the online log entries from the previous geocachers to get some insight and clues for the hunt.  Their entries mentioned blackberry bushes and suggested long sleeves and pants, but that didn’t deter us for the hunt.  We pulled out our gloves from the geocaching backpack we keep in the car, thinking that would be sufficient to avoid getting scratched and poked, but cloth gloves are no match for full grown blackberry bushes.

After at least 40 minutes of searching in and around the blackberry bushes, we finally gave up the hunt.  So much for easy.  We logged the dreaded “DNF” (did not find) on the webpage for this geocache.  Ouch!  I hate those—and then to admit it online for everyone to see—how embarrassing.

“DNF”, it’s giving up.  It feels like defeat.  It seems like failure.  When is enough, enough?  I am not a quitter.  When the going gets tough, I keep going—often times beyond what is reasonable.  When it comes to something I am passionate about, it is especially hard to let go.

So move on we did.  By this time I am hungry, thirsty and my feet hurt.  Did I mention I was not in walking shoes?  But I was encouraged by my husband to go on the next hunt.  It’s only .2 miles away, he said.  I agreed to go.  After all, I didn’t want to end the day with a “DNF” on my geocaching profile.  We ended our outing with two successful hunts or finds.

I share all of this not to give a lesson in geocaching, but to provide food for thought on the challenges in life.  Unfortunately, we don’t get a rating scale of difficulty or terrain that we will encounter on our travels.  We can take a personal risk assessment based on our past experiences, our own abilities or wise counsel from others who have travelled a similar path.

In geocaching, as in life, you sometimes have to decide it’s time to move on to the next challenge.  In doing so, we need encouragement for the journey, like my husband gave me, and the stamina to persevere.  We also need to learn when to let go.

One last thought you might be wondering about related to the “DNF”—why would one post that online for all to see?  It is to help other geocachers who will follow you on the hunt.  That is like our journey too.  It is ok to admit defeat.  It can help others on the journey to self-discovery.  It does not need to define us.  After all, Jesus tells us in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Wanting Versus Committing

Today I am a writer.  Yesterday I wanted to be a writer.  What’s the difference?  Commitment.

June 13, 2011, that is when I first ‘outed’ myself as a writer.  It was at a support meeting that I regularly attend where we share our struggles and encouragement through the ups and downs of life.  I made the decision to tell everyone I wanted to write a book.  That was a spiritual marker for me.  After I voiced my intent, God opened the door for several things to start aligning with that desire.

Exactly one week later, I was asked to be interviewed by Steve Arterburn, author of over 60 Christian books, founder of Women of Faith and host of the nationally syndicated Christian counseling radio program, New Life Live.  My interview was published on their monthly CD that goes out to supporters of this ministry.  It was through my writing a few months before that this even became possible.

Two weeks later, I was asked by my pastor’s wife to be on the church’s devotional team.  Again, it was through my writing that she even became aware of my desire.  After having our beloved adopted host son from Spain in our home for a month, I turned my attention to trying to write devotionals.  My first one was published the end of July.

Since that time I have started to feel and act like a writer–going to writing classes, attending writers meetings and journaling like crazy.  But there was no concrete writing on my book.  I was overwhelmed by the prospect–not knowing where to start, the structure for it and so on.

Then things started to align with my desire.  At the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association (NCWA) meeting earlier this month I purchased a book called The Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path.  I immediately started reading this book to see where I was on the steps–or even if I was on a step.  Afterall, if I was really a writer I needed to be able to see myself on a step.

It was easy to find myself.  I was in Step 2–WANTING.  I wanted to be a writer.  I was putting myself in the position to become a writer–except that the main reason I decided to take a leap of faith and give intentionality to my writing–to write my book–was not happening.  I knew what lie ahead–Step 3–COMMITMENT.

I didn’t want to read that chapter, but the more I sat in wanting, the more I knew I needed to.  I needed to see what was ahead and see if I could do what it took–and to get unstuck.  It was hard to read Step 3.  It was about the sacrifices that writers make and the changes that they need to put into place to make writing happen.  So that is what I am doing–making changes in my life that realign with my desire to write a book.

So on Saturday, October 15, 2011, I heeded to the voice in my head that gave me the place to start on my book.  Funny how it wasn’t at all in the realm of what I was thinking about over the past few weeks.  When I let go of where to start, God gave it to me.  It was the introduction–why I am writing this book.  Once I wrote that the next piece just seemed to flow.

I only have a vague idea what I am doing with this, but at least it is a start.  I am thrilled.  I am elated.  I am scared.  I am nervous.  These are all signs of being in Step 3, so that is a good thing.  I am honored that God would call me into this journey.  I’m praying that He will keep me focused on it and that it will glorify Him.  I am grateful to not be wanting any longer, but to be committing to this partnership with Him.

Where are you sitting in a state of wanting?  What is it going to take for you to commit to your goal?  Ask God to help you take the bold steps necessary to realign your life and commit to His purpose for your future.  And then watch God show up.

  • 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 29th, 2018
    Vamos a España!
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