A Lenten Journey Surprise

As I’ve done the last few years, I prepared for Easter with a Lenten fast from alcohol and sweets.  What was different this year was that much to my surprise my 16-year-old son decided to observe a fast as well.

lenten-journeyHow it all Began

About the same time that Lent began, my son and I started a new bedtime routine.  We read a daily devotional and then prayed together.  On the evening of Ash Wednesday, he asked me about the ashes on my forehead which led to a conversation about Lent.  (By the way, observing Lent, or Ash Wednesday, is not exclusively for Catholics as some mistakenly believe.)

The next day after school he announced he was giving up video games for Lent!  My heart leapt for joy at his sacrificial offering.  I don’t remember what I said that night.  I didn’t ask him about giving anything up himself.  When he told me his decision the next day, he was excited.

My husband and I have had discussions with our son about the amount of time he spends on video games in the past.  Sometimes those discussions turned pretty heated, and he’d lose his gaming privileges.  We’ve also suggested alternative ways of using his leisure time.  Nothing else ever seemed to interest him.

And that's not all of it!

My son’s video game collection–and that’s not even all of it!

However, as Lent started my son was excited to share his choice—and even recognized how hard it would be.  Those first few days he admitted to me that his thoughts would turn to gaming.  He learned to turn his attention elsewhere — sometimes to God, and other times to his studies.  Those thoughts diminished over time.

The End of the Journey

As the 40-day journey grew closer to Holy Week, we talked about what he would do after Easter.  Would he return to his old gaming behavior?  Would he continue his fast?  I shared with him my previous Lent experiences—ranging from returning to immediate gratification with candy on Easter Sunday to abstaining for a prolonged period.  He has opted to return in moderation.

What excites me about this year’s pilgrimage to Easter is not so much that he stopped gaming, it’s that he (and us together) started a great ritual of connecting at the end of the day.  I would often forget, and he’d remind me to join him for our devotional and prayer time.  He also started reading the Bible again and occasionally writing in a journal.

My son and our dog, one of his best friends.

My son and our dog, one of his best friends.

In God’s Timing

I know a lot of this is only possible because my son made a decision to try medication again for his ADHD a few months ago.  He is a changed person.

The medication has given him access to areas of his brain that before were preventing his behaviors from aligning with his desires.  It has allowed him to establish new homework routines, focus on his studies, become more social and succeed in school.  In turn, he is now making more adult decisions and able to find a part of his self that was inaccessible before.

I’m very thankful that we went down this road with him.  I’m grateful that he persevered over the last few years.  I praise God for His timing in all of this (yet again!) and how my son is actively pursuing his relationship with Him.  I’m also glad that I was able to model something to him in the past and that he caught that behavior on his own.

Surprised by God

I had hoped that my son would actually write this post for me (another thing we talked about during Lent), but he is busy with his studies.  He did, however, quickly volunteered to help with the photos and captions.

Surprised by GodWhen I asked him what he’d like to share about his Lenten Journey, he said, “It was a beneficial experience for me.  It helped me to know God better and do well in school.”  That’s a lot to get out of a 16-year-old who is filled with new hope and finding his way in life.

As far as my fast, I’m still abstaining—for now.  I’m embracing the joy of getting to know my son in a deeper way.  That was my Lenten surprise.

Did God surprise you on your journey toward Easter?  I’d love to hear your story.

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

 

What if His People Prayed, Part 2 ~ Global Prayers

Before my mother passed away three years ago, my regular prayer life was mostly made up of prayers before family meals and some daily devotional or quiet time in the morning.  I also prayed short prayers intermittently throughout the day. During one period of spiritual seeking I went so far as to venture into an overnight prayer vigil at my church.   I liked that experience, but my church stopped the practice soon after.

Inside my first church in Spain, San Jerónimo el Real, in Madrid.

On sacred ground, inside my first church in Spain, San Jerónimo el Real, Madrid.

Becoming a Prayer Intercessor

I had never considered myself a prayer warrior or a particularly articulate prayer person.   As I mentioned in Part 1 of this 2-part series, that radically changed in recent years. About a year after my mother passed away I took a spiritual gift assessment and sure enough, one of my gifts was intercessory prayer—not something that had scored high in the past.

Embracing this gift has helped me to continue on my spiritual walk across denominations and into the Catholic Church for my weekly appointment with God. This prayer practice has awakened my faith in new ways and eventually led me to Spain last summer where I finally met Rosa, Pedro’s mother. That trip was the trip of a lifetime for me—6-weeks in Spain, immersed in the culture, the food, the language and the faith. My visits to the Catholic Church here gave me a longing to worship in the grand Cathedrals and churches of Spain.

Praying in Spain

While I was in Spain, I attended mass and toured several Catholic cathedrals—13 in all, from central to southern Spain and to the island of Mallorca.  It was like being on sacred ground to visit these massive, centuries-old buildings with intricate stone carved exterior figures and laden with golden altars and statues inside.

My prayers in Spain were much different than in America. Back home, I had lots of private time to thoughtfully pray for people by name. While I was in Spain, God led me to meditate on a passage of scripture in Ezekiel. This resulted in my  praying for unity between Catholics and Protestants, and for revival in the Church of Spain. I had no preconceived notions how God was going to do that. I just knew that He was calling me to pray into this country for a spiritual awakening.

Praying Globally

People pray for global causes all the time. This takes me back (as referenced in my last post) to the words of the Casting Crowns song, “What if His People Prayed”:

“And what would happen if we prayed
For those raised up to lead the way
Then maybe kids in school could pray
And unborn children see light of day”

We pray for government officials and against laws that we believe are unjust. We pray for victims of crime and victims of natural disasters. We pray for the poor and for the hungry.

So why not pray for the people of Spain? They live in a time of economic distress and dramatically high unemployment. According to the Evangelical Covenant Church, although historically considered a Catholic country, church attendance has declined dramatically over the years and a very small percentage have a relationship with Christ.

After six weeks in Spain, I truly have a heart for the people. It started with a heart for Pedro, then his mother Rosa, and on to the remaining 24 members of his family that I met. But more than that, God got a hold of me there and showed me how different the spiritual climate was and the need for people to return to Him. They need His Hope—the kind of hope that does not disappoint. (Isaiah 49:23)

Prayer Works

Earlier this week, and nine months to the day I started my prayers on Spanish soil, I got physical confirmation of what I knew to be true in the spiritual realm. That was when a Spanish pastor and missionary visited the Celebrate Recovery meeting where I gave my testimony. It was his first time at this kind of meeting. We are now exploring ways to bring this healing ministry to Spain.

Is this the start of a spiritual revival in Spain? Is this what God was planning when he directed me to pray? It would probably sound pretty presumptuous for me to declare that (although I am pretty bold with my faith). All I know is that I did my part—and I continue to do so.  All it takes is one person, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed. (Matthew 17:20)

Do you have a desire to go to Spain and pray for the nation and its people?  I invite you to come on a 10-day prayer journey this fall and explore Spain for yourself. And maybe I’ll be there too, if those prayers are answered.  Click on this link, Prayer journey 2014, for more information.

Update 7/23/2014: The Prayer Journey was cancelled for 2014, but tickets are purchased for a Celebrate Recovery mission to France and Spain in the fall of 2014. Prayer appreciated for this mission of hope.

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

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

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

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

Child PrayingBeing Taught to Pray

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

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

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

What if His People Prayed?

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

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

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

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

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

What if No One Prayed?

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

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

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

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

A Closing Prayer

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

Who needs your prayers today?

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

An Invitation to my Sacred Space

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

Ashes in cups

Cups of ashes from the Ash Wednesday service.

My Weekly Prayer Practice

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

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

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

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

WP_20140312_008Welcome to my Sacred Space

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

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

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

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

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

Find Him in the Stillness

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

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

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

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

Stop, Look & Listen to God

On New Year’s Day 2014, I attended mass at a local Catholic Church.  I suppose it may seem like a strange thing for a Protestant to do, but it has become commonplace for me on special occasions.  It was the perfect time for God to show up and remind me of what brought me here in the first place, and to give me direction for the New Year.

The Fruit of Spiritual Growth

It was three years ago this month that He put the wheels in motion for my first step into this church.  Within weeks God brought about the amazing revelations and healing that led to my writing “Walking My Mother Home” published in Journeys to Mother Love.  So I sat in church reflecting, and taking in the significance of how God has aligned so many events and brought so many people in my life these past several years that led to my unique walk of faith.

One place of my reflection and prayer in Spain on the island of Mallorca, July 2013.

One place of my reflection and prayer in Spain on the island of Mallorca, July 2013.

There are too many to thank here, but they know who they are:  pastors, support group leaders, and men and women of faith, here and abroad.  They encouraged me to follow where God was leading me, to reclaim my identity, and to live missionally.  They planted seeds of righteousness in me.  They fertilized my dreams of bringing Glory to God through my writing and my voice.

After 13 years of actively seeking spiritual growth and ten years of recovery, they have supported me in my journey to turn my weakness into victory, and my brokenness into a personal ministry of compassion for the poor in spirit.

Stop-Look-and-Listen-to-God-Large-Poster-9780764707513A Word from the Lord

“What’s next, Lord?” I asked during a moment of silent prayer in church.  The word He immediately gave me was ‘STOP’.  It wasn’t to stop serving or reaching out to others.  It was more like ‘stop, look, and listen’.

In all of my excitement about going to Spain last year, it wasn’t unusual for me to get ahead of God or to start acting on something that really wasn’t the right time.  Case in point, I thought I was supposed to speak in Spain and eagerly jumped into setting up talks and honing my speaking skills.

“Not now,” He lovingly told me.  “But, but, but…”  I knew I had to let go and trust Him.

The other word that God gave me for 2014 was ‘reflect’.  That doesn’t sound like a hard thing for a contemplative to do.  I spend hours in prayer every week; so what’s the difference this year?  God reminded me recently of a scripture that He gave me when all of these amazing things started to happen.  It was Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

I have gotten away from that posture in the past two years.  I was so excited about traveling to Spain, being a first time author, and Pedro’s music success, that I haven’t slowed down much to just take it all in.  It is a normal part of my life now, but there are times that I forget to do as Mary did.  Don’t act on it, just treasure it.

treasure heart verseTreasures of the Heart

God made some pretty big deposits in my heart these last few years.  He has given me new dreams for the coming year and beyond.  This year I want to be more deliberate in noticing when to stop, look, and listen for His guidance.  I want to abide more and react less.  Maybe that even means not being so bold on my blog, sharing so much, or so often.

Whatever it takes, I want to be in alignment with God’s will for my life and to wait for His perfect timing.  Hopefully by the end of 2014, I can attest to His building the fruit of patience in me like never before.  And I’ll have more things to treasure in my heart for the coming year.

What is your focus for 2014?

The Road to Spain, Update 7 ~ Spiritual Readiness

After turning my back on my Catholic faith as a youth, I had only stepped inside a Catholic church once or twice in my life, like for a funeral.  The church didn’t seem relevant to me.  It seemed rote—reciting pre-scripted prayers and responses.

However, when I took Pedro, a Spanish exchange student who lived with us, to an afternoon mass in Seattle three years ago, I witnessed something I had never seen before in a Catholic Church (or was too young to notice).  I witnessed people raising their hands in worship during hymns or at times of the rote responses.  I saw genuine worship, expressed like I had only seen done in Protestant churches. It left a favorable impression of the Catholic Church on me and started to erase my leftover bias.The Cross

Six months later when Pedro’s grandmother died, I had a mass said for her (a common Catholic practice).  I also had a mass said for my terminally ill mother. (If you don’t know what that is, think of it as a prayer service dedicated to someone you love).  It was at that mass that God opened my eyes and ears to really being in tune with His voice.

Reawakening my Faith

According to Gary Thomas, author of “Spiritual Pathways”, we are uniquely wired in the ways in which we connect with God.  His book describes ten ways:  Naturalists, Sensates, Traditionalists, Ascetics, Activists, Caregivers, Enthuisasts, Contemplatives and Intellectuals.

After my experiences at this Catholic mass over 2 ½ years ago, I realized I was a contemplative. The defining characteristic of a contemplative is that they connect with God through adoration. So I started to attend mass and a weekly prayer service where I could devote quality time with God.

It was in these times of adoration that He was spiritually preparing me for my trip to Spain.  He has given me a glimpse into the Catholic Church, that at first glance may seem like a strange thing—a Protestant attending mass.  But I believe it is through these experiences, that He has uniquely prepared me to cross denominational barriers and connect with the people of Spain.

Exploring my first church in Spain, San Jeronimo el Real, Madrid

Exploring my first church in Spain, San Jeronimo el Real, Madrid

First Spanish Mass

Ever since these discoveries about myself, I have been looking forward to seeing the historic cathedrals of Spain and attending mass in a different setting and language.  I desired to worship God alongside native speakers and feel God’s presence in this place and time.  All of the pieces have been aligning for this part of my journey.  I left Seattle spiritually ready and open to experiencing God in a new way.

I had a glimpse into that on my third day in Spain when I attended my first Spanish Catholic mass.  It didn’t end up being in some grand historic cathedral like I envisioned.  It was in an old neighborhood Catholic Church with Rosa by my side.  I was pretty lost in the service, not understanding the words, but could generally follow along with the order of the mass. None of this prevented me from silently praying for the people of Spain or preparing my heart for this part of my journey.  When the tears came, as I knew they would, Rosa was there with a comforting hand.

Interior of San Jeronimo el Real Church

Interior of San Jeronimo el Real Church

What’s Next?

This part of my journey is just beginning.  I know I will visit other cathedrals in Spain—and hopefully another mass, as well as a Protestant church service.  My days are long and filled with lots of activities.  It has been hard to develop a routine and spiritual discipline here, but I would be missing out on why I believe God has called me for such a time as this if I didn’t respond to His invitation.

So I am ready physically, mentally and spiritually for this trip of a lifetime.  I have been consciously and subconsciously preparing for it in stages for the last three years.  I know God walks before me into this next phase of my journey.  I am grateful for His pointing me in this direction and for the support and prayers of my friends and family.

~ This completes my “Road to Spain” blog series.  My Spanish travel series starts with España Update 1 ~ The Longest Day.  Adios and vaya con Dios! (So long and go with God.)

The Road to Spain, Update 6 ~ The Music

The last time I physically saw Pedro González Arbona we were waving each other goodbye at the security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport two years ago.  He arrived that summer as an aspiring composer.  He left America that day with 50 professionally recorded CDs of his original compositions, eager to share his music with friends and family in Spain.

Managing Pedro’s Music

Our relationship changed that summer, not intentionally, but it went from one of family connection (as a result of a short term exchange program, Education First) to a music partnership.  When I offered to take Pedro into the recording studio in July 2011, he started to affectionately and jokingly call me his manager.  As I caught his dream of composing movie scores, I came to take that responsibility more seriously, as did he.

Since that time, his music found a home with CD Baby, an independent music distributor, giving him an online presence on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other retail music sites, and giving him worldwide exposure.  As fantastic as this may sound, online access doesn’t automatically equate to fame and fortune—although I was naturally concerned it might.

Introducing Pedro at his debut American performance, June 2011

Introducing Pedro at his debut American performance, June 2011

Carrying on our relationship across 5,300 miles has not been easy.  But like the online translator has helped bridge the distance between his mother Rosa and me, Pedro’s music has helped to connect us as well.  When Pedro left in July 2011, he had a repertoire of 18 songs; 13 of them were recorded on his CD, Introducing Pedro González Arbona.

Since then he has become quite prolific with his music, growing from simple piano melodies to fully orchestrated pieces.  Last month, he reached a major milestone by composing his 100th piece, sending each song to me via email along the way.

And Then it Happened . . .

One day out of the blue several months ago, Pedro emailed me an incredibly beautiful composition that seemed to stretch his music to a new level.  I made a mental note on that day of this shift, prayed about it, released it to God, and even wrote in my journal how it felt like his music was truly ready for the big screen.  The very next day, I received an email from Pedro that he got noticed by a Spanish film production company who was interested in hiring him to compose for a full feature film.  This was incredible news!

Pedro informed the company that I was his manager and the international communications began with the producer.  Things progressed very rapidly after that.  Pedro was offered the chance to compose for a short film to test his talent—which he passed with flying colors.  He was then offered the job to compose for the full feature film next year.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of musical commitments for Pedro and a steep learning curve for me.  I have been blown away by his beautifully orchestrated compositions for the short film.  Throughout the production process, he has demonstrated his maturity and creative genius in working with the producer and the director.  It has all paid off well for him as the trailer for the short film, “Sed de Amor” (Thirst for Love), below, was released last week.  (By the way, the song I mentioned above was the basis for the song featured in this trailer.  It really was meant for the big screen and answered prayer!)

It’s a Small World

What is so interesting to me in all of this is how the connections for this film came to fruition.  It wasn’t because the film company stumbled upon Pedro’s music.  It was through a high school friend, Chani Bas, who is the director and screenwriter for the short film.  He heard of Pedro’s musical pursuits and shared Pedro’s music site with the producers.  Pedro’s music spoke for itself.

Putting Pedro’s music online was never rooted in financial motives.  It was all about sharing Pedro’s music and getting him exposure.  We just had to be patient for the right circumstances to materialize and God’s timing.

6 DaysReunion on Spanish Soil

When I arrive in Spain in one week, I will be reunited with Pedro—no longer an aspiring composer, but a professional one, with the score of his first professional film under his belt.  The timing couldn’t be better, as we will be able to partner for his music promotion, the release of the soundtrack on July 1, and the premiere of the movie.  I’m also anxious to watch him perform the dozens of songs he sent me over the past two years.

I couldn’t be happier for Pedro.  His dreams are becoming a reality.  I fertilized the seed that was planted in my home when we met three years ago (when he first played the piano for us).  The hard work has paid off.  Now it’s time to enjoy the fruit of our labor, and thank God for the abundant blessings He has bestowed on us.

Update 12/18/2013:  To read about my music related adventures in Spain, check out “Lights, Camera, Action, Part 1.”

Acts of Service, Part 1 ~ Wash My Feet

Although Holy Week and Easter Sunday celebrations are over, my mind is still on the events of last week and one particular act Jesus did for His disciples—and ultimately for us.  It was his humbling act of washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).

Being Served

On Thursday evening, at a church service I attended in celebration of the Lord’s Supper, attendees were invited to participate in a foot washing ceremony.  People were slow to come forward and not everyone participated.  I guess, it’s not for everyone, but to those who participated, I’m sure it left them with a sense of humility and reverence.Foot washing

I first participated in a foot washing ceremony at a women’s retreat several years ago.  It was at a time in my life when my faith was being renewed and stretched in ways I’d never experienced before.  I didn’t jump at the chance then, but prayerfully waited and emptied my inner self before submitting to this act of humility.  It was very freeing and left a memorable mark on me—one that I recreated as a final act of service for my mother after she passed away.

Serving My Mother

Washing my mother’s feet wasn’t something I planned to do in advance of her passing.  But on the plane ride back home to take care of her funeral arrangements and memorial, I felt the Lord put this desire on my heart.  I had never even heard of doing it for a deceased person and thought that might sound strange.  However, I knew that bodies were anointed with oils in biblical times—like was done for Jesus—and it just seemed to be the right thing to do.

My family and I were only allowed one viewing of my mother’s body before they cremated her remains.  I knew the funeral home would have to agree to my request.  I was nervous about asking and prayed about it in advance.  They agreed, even setting up the facilities and giving us the privacy to wash my mother’s feet.  The tears flowed as I dabbed water on my mother’s feet and told her my final thoughts and prayers on her behalf.

Serving OthersWashing my mother’s feet was just one of the many powerful and beautiful ways that the Lord allowed me to serve and honor my mother in her parting.  If you are not a Christian or have never experienced something as humbling or selfless as this kind of act, I imagine it may sound somewhat strange or even ridiculous in nature.  I would’ve thought the same in years past myself.

Serving Others

The point is not to go around physically washing others’ feet.  Jesus used this symbol of humility and obedience to model to his disciples, and to us, to serve others.

Since my mother’s passing, my perspective on how I serve others has taken a dramatic shift—a Holy Shift, if you will.  It isn’t generally in structured ministry opportunities at my church.  It isn’t even in a non-profit setting.  Besides my writing, I’ve chosen to serve others through opportunities to connect over coffee, email, Skype and now in the speaking realm.  It may not look like ‘serving,’ but it is meeting the needs of others as we share Jesus’ message of hope and healing.  And, as followers of Christ, that is His call to wash each other’s feet.

A Friendship Born in Sorrow

My friendship with Rosa has been one of the greatest gifts that I received as I prepared for my mother’s passing two years ago. We will finally meet face to face this summer in Spain.

Journeys To Mother Love

RosaRosa

As mentioned in my story, “Walking My Mother Home,” during the time I was walking through healing in my relationship with my mother I developed a long-distance friendship with Rosa, who lives in Spain. Rosa’s mother, Carmen, passed away a few weeks before my mother. The connection with Rosa led me, a Protestant, to a Catholic Church to pray on bended knee and release my mother to the Lord. It was at this exact time that Carmen’s funeral was proceeding in Spain.

Rosa’s and my relationship was born out of sorrow, nurtured by prayer, and sealed in love. It was perfectly timed to help me heal the void and loss in my heart caused by never really knowing my mother as a person and not being able to have a relationship with her. Her death brought out a lot of feelings and the Lord has been faithful to heal…

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Was The Sacrifice Worth It?

Last year I entered into the Lenten season with much anticipation and reverence as I started to explore Jesus from a more contemplative perspective.  I spent much time in prayer and meditation.  I also fasted from alcohol.  It ended up being the most amazing 40-day spiritual journey of my life.  And so I decided to make many of those changes a permanent part of my everyday life. 
As I entered into the Lenten season this year, I was expecting the same kind of holy ground type of experience.  That’s not exactly what I got though.  I fasted again this year, but this time it was from alcohol and sweets.  I increased my prayer and meditation time which had become a bit inconsistent over the past year.  That’s where the similarities ended. 
lent cross
This year, Lent coincided with a period in my life when I was being called into a major leadership role in ministry.  After three years away from serving in ministry leadership, I had forgotten how prevalent and pervasive spiritual attacks can be.  (A friend told me today that is also why God doesn’t allow women to remember the pain from childbirth.) 
This has probably been the most difficult spiritual journey of my life.  I know that if I hadn’t been heavily investing in my time with God and seeking His will for my life as part of my Lenten practice, that I wouldn’t have fared so well during this trial.  I needed that quality time alone with God to give me His peace and to strengthen me each and every week.
Lent is technically over, but for me the spiritual disciplines of the last 40 days are not.  I did already have a few sweets and my body quickly told me it didn’t like that decision.  And at least for now, the alcohol is still on hold. 
So was the sacrifice and fasting worth it?  Absolutely.  As God continues to call me to serve Him in ways that stretch me outside of my comfort zone, I will continue to seek His wisdom and discernment on how to do it not on my own self-sufficiency, but according to His will.  It’s the best chance I have of living a worry-free life.
On to the next 40 days—and Pentecost!
  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

  • Returning to Spain

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