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

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

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

number 9

Counting down–9 weeks until I leave on mission.

Praying for the Mission

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

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

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

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

Surprise me GodGod’s Amazing Surprises

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

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

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

CR internationalRevised Mission

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

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

Next Mission Steps

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

Click on above image to donate to the mission.

Click on above image to donate to the mission.

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

Please Join God’s Work Abroad

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

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

Surprise me, God!  Surprise us all!

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

 

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

The Road to Spain, Update 1 ~ Project Scope

Welcome to my inaugural update on my road to Spain.  The days are quickly passing by as the date of my arrival in Spain (June 24th) approaches, yet I haven’t made any fanfare on my blog or posted any updates since I bought my tickets in January.

Ninety Days

A few weeks ago when I hit the 90-day mark (during Holy Week), I felt like a huge burden had been placed on my shoulders and there would be no way I’d be ready in time.  As strange as it may seem, I had the sense that the 90 days remaining for me would be like Jesus road to Jerusalem.  Seriously!

90 day challengeI started to think about how so much psychology and health research touts the benefits of a 90-day program for things like diet or exercise changes, lifestyle changes, changing your thinking patterns, recovery and addiction rehabilitation, etc.  This led me to think about all the things I hadn’t done to prepare for my trip yet—the big things, preparing to speak while there, learning Spanish, researching Spain (culture, sights, food, etc.), losing weight and exercising.  It was way too much for me to think about.

So I frantically started to work simultaneously on these things.  There just didn’t seem to be much progress and the stress continued to mount.  Finally this week while in a time of dedicated prayer, I got a clear revelation from God.  It led to a huge shift in my attitude and felt like the weight of the world was taken off my shoulders.

Scope CreepScope Creep

The easiest way I can explain it is to put it in terms like I would as a project manager.  It’s called ‘scope creep’.  That is when the scope of a project starts to go beyond its original intention.  (I guess God wanted to put it in terms I would understand.)  He brought me back to the original purpose or scope of my trip—to invest in people.  I am going to meet Rosa, to build relationship with my Spanish family and to write about it.

This isn’t a surprise to me, but what I realized in the process was that my speaking in Spain was sidetracking me from the goal.  Sure it would be amazing to share my story with others in Spain.  Sure it would be amazing to sell books, grow my platform or promote Pedro’s music while there.  (All the ‘shoulds’ a writer repeatedly hears about how to be successful.)  But that is not the purpose of this trip.  Those are incidental benefits.  As disappointing as it is, I am letting go of my desire to speak while in Spain.  Instead I am open to what God has in store for me there.

I don’t want any regrets about this trip of a lifetime.  I wouldn’t be going to Spain if it wasn’t for the miraculous events that happened between Rosa and me the year our mothers died.  I know God is using this story to touch others who have lost their parents or are seeking a second chance to restore relationship with a parent.  I trust that He will use this story in Spain as well—how and when the time is right—even if it’s just one person at a time.

The 10-Week Countdown Begins

The 10-Week Countdown Begins

Refocused

I know this story inside and out because I lived it.  It transformed me.  I am ready to go—even now.  My attention is turned back to getting my mind and body ready to take it all in—like any other normal tourist would do—including learning Spanish.  It is still a lot to do, but I feel refocused and realigned with my purpose.

And, yes, there is a crucifixion going on here.  It is the part of me that wants to do it all and have it under control.  But I promise, there won’t be any physical blood loss—just occasional moans or groans as I swallow my pride once again and learn to trust Him more fully.

So sit back, and enjoy the view as I travel on the road to Spain over the next ten weeks!

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

The Call to Speak, Part 2 – Breaking the Ice

I’m sharing my first Toastmasters speech, the icebreaker, on my blog (it’s more like an author reading at this point) as a way to introduce others to my story and hone in on my message.  It is a work in process.  Part 1 of this series is about how the speaking part of my journey started in the first place.

I know in time I will have multiple venues open up to share my story in spiritual and secular settings over the months and years to come.  The objective of this particular speech is to gain interest in my story and start building my audience as I prepare for my pilgrimage to Spain this summer and the next season of my writing.

As you read the speech, envision if you will, Pedro’s music (the young Spanish man in my story) playing in the background and synchronized with the speech.  When you have finished reading it, I’d love it if you would share your personal evaluations of it in the comments below (like my fellow Toastmasters did at the meeting).

First Meeting

Welcoming Pedro into the family, July 2010.

My First Toastmasters Speech

“My name is Ardis Nelson.  I am a wife, a mother, a writer, a blogger, and a follower of Jesus, whose life was radically transformed a few years ago after opening our home to a Spanish young man named Pedro, as part of a short term exchange program.  With Pedro’s engaging personality and eagerness to immerse himself in American culture and history, he quickly became like family.  Our final goodbyes that summer were very painful to me as we had no idea when we would ever see each other again, but we knew the door of his home was always open to my family.

Since that teary goodbye two and a half years ago, many amazing things have happened between our families.  I am finally traveling to Spain this summer to continue my writing and to speak.  I’d like to share a bit of this story with you in hopes of gaining your continued interest of its unfolding.

Shortly after Pedro returned home to Madrid in August 2010, he found out that his grandmother had brain cancer and only had a few months to live.  My mother was also terminally ill, after having suffered a major stroke, and so I started to connect with Rosa, Pedro’s mother, to offer prayer and encouragement as we both prepared for the passing of our mothers.  There was one minor problem though—neither one of us spoke the other’s native language.  But we didn’t let that stop us as we used online translators to communicate via email and bridge the 5,300 mile gap between us.

In January 2011, six months after Pedro’s departure, he unexpectedly sent our family the song “Seattle”, a piece he composed and dedicated to us.  Although he played the piano in our home that previous summer, we had no idea he composed music until we received this song.  Then within days of the receipt of this song, Pedro’s grandmother died. 

Since Pedro’s family was Catholic, I went to a local parish, lit a candle and prayed for their family.  I also prayed for my own mother who had already suffered over a year since her stroke and was living day to day with the aid of a feeding tube.  I surrendered the outcome of the timing of her death and she passed away two weeks later.

Cemetary

Laid to rest, February 2011.

As I worked on my mother’s eulogy, I started to see how I was beautifully made in my mother’s image.  Since she was mentally ill all my life and we were estranged for many years, I had never connected the dots before.  I was afraid that I would someday be labeled mentally ill like my mother and so I cut her out of my life.  I stuffed my emotions and did everything I could to disassociate myself with her.  The ramifications of these revelations were transformational for me.

On the day of my mother’s funeral, on the flight home to Seattle, I started writing about the story that connected our families.  One year later, my story “Walking My Mother Home” was accepted by a publisher and subsequently released in the compilation, Journeys to Mother Love in August 2012.

Meanwhile, Pedro started to send more of his compositions to me and we were planning for his return to Seattle that next summer.  But little did he know I started to play with the idea of taking him into the recording studio for his 18th birthday.  A few weeks before his return, when I offered him the gift of a recorded CD, he divulged a big secret.  Some of the music he performed the previous summer in our home was actually his original music—including my favorite song titled “Portman”.

Pedro’s CD, “Introducing Pedro Gonzalez Arbona”, is now available on itunes, Amazon, Spotify and other online music sites.  Surprisingly, I also now manage the music career of this young international artist.  One of his biggest dreams, to compose movie scores, became a reality last month as he was hired by a professional production company in Spain.  He has completed scoring the music to a short film and has high hopes of continuing with this company on other bigger projects.

I like to think that all of this started because God nudged me to go outside of my comfort zone and open our home to this young man.  When I did that step of obedience, God continued to open up new opportunities for us to connect and invest in each other.  I invested in Rosa at her time of need and she did in me as well.  In return, I invested in her son and his desires to share his music to a broader audience.

On June 24th, I will step on Spanish soil and meet Rosa face to face.  It is a friendship born in sorrow, nurtured in prayer and sealed in love.  As I mentioned earlier, my writing started the day of my mother’s funeral. I know it won’t be complete until I meet Rosa face to face, hear her side of the story and how her faith and family got her through it. Rosa has been learning English to facilitate our communication. I’ve been working on my next book in preparation for our meeting.  It is our gift to each other and a way to honor our mothers.

I’m looking forward to having you journey along with me as I prepare for my trip to Spain and share my story.  Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with you tonight.”

Speech EvaluationTime to Evaluate

My speech hit right on target for the 5-7 minute speech range.  I  finished by distributing business cards and a few handouts related to my blog and story.  Each Toastmaster wrote a short evaluation of each speaker’s speech.  Later on in the meeting, evaluators assigned to each speaker provided even more feedback.

So now it’s your turn.  You can’t really evaluate how well I spoke, but you can provide your feedback on the content in the comments below.  If you don’t already follow my blog, the best evaluation or feedback you could provide on this is to subscribe to email updates of my blog posts and join me on my journey to Spain and beyond.

The Call to Speak, Part 1 – A Toast to the Lord

I recently took a bold step forward on my journey toward Spain.  It started six months ago as I was preparing for the release of my book, Journeys to Mother Love.  I spoke at my Open House and shared with the attendees the desires that God placed on my heart to share my story in bigger ways—beyond the book.  I felt God calling me to publicly speak.  The speaking wasn’t just in what you’d consider normal ministry settings, but it was to speak in Spain.

Qualified to Speak?

I’ve been at ease in front of a podium for many years as my responsibilities in my secular jobs included leading large meetings, training employees and supervising staff.  But I didn’t start out that way.  I had fear and insecurity about my ability to speak in those settings.  In time those fears subsided as I became more comfortable in my positions with those companies.  Quite frankly, I was pretty self-sufficient in those days too, not really seeking God’s help, just doing it on my own—without any formal training.

MicrophoneWhen I started serving in ministry, I had to put aside my self-sufficiency and start relying on God.  I overcame my doubts and thinking I was unqualified and unworthy to lead others in their spiritual growth.  As I stepped out of my comfort zone, He reassured me and gave me increasingly bigger opportunities to point people to Him.  But speaking in a foreign country, where I don’t even know the language?  That feels a bit unbelievable to me at times.  I know that God is going before me though, so I continue to trust that He has the venues lining up in the spiritual realms.

My part in all of this is to write the speeches, build my speaking skills and practice in front of a live audience.  With less than four months before I arrive in Spain, I knew I needed to ramp up my speaking skills quickly.  The best way to do that is in the safety of a group of fellow speaking enthusiasts, the Toastmasters.

Confirmation to Speak

Over the last several months, I’ve received repeated confirmations to pursue speaking in Spain as several Spanish contacts have started to cross my path.  The most recent of those was when I looked into joining a Toastmasters group that was forming in my hometown.  It isn’t a normal Toastmasters club, but is a Christian club known as “A Toast to the Lord”.

ToastmastersI first heard about Toastmasters several years ago when a staff member told me about their participation in a group meeting over lunch.  I declined his invitation then, but it must’ve struck a chord with me at some level to remember it all these years later.  Then last summer when I started to work on my branding and platform, my publishing coach, Athena Dean from Book Jolt, recommended that I join Toastmasters.  When I found out that by joining this group I would also be welcomed to speak at Toastmasters clubs in Spain, I eagerly began working on my first speech and joined the club.

The first speech in the training program is the icebreaker.  In less than a day, I wrote the speech, rehearsed it, recorded it and listened to it several times—no nervousness or anxiety.  I took that as a good sign that the story is becoming more integrated into my life.  On the way to the meeting I prayed for confirmation of these next steps on my journey.

One of the benefits of belonging to a Toastmaster’s club are the evaluations received by other Toastmasters.  The written evaluations were definitely confirmation of my next steps as they were full of adjectives that encouraged me to share this inspiring and emotional story.  I won’t share them here, lest you think I am boasting.  As the title of my blog indicates though, He is Making Me Bold.  Any boasting that I do is out of my love for the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).  Now with my new role as a Toastmaster, I can boast and toast to the Lord at the same time.

Habla Espanol¿Habla Español?

What about not knowing the language?  I’m focusing my speaking engagements on English speaking venues or those with translators available.  If necessary, I know I can rely on Pedro or Rosa to translate as well.   I’ll also cram in a Spanish refresher course before I step on the plane in June.

Do I still question my qualifications to speak in Spain?  From time to time I do hear that little voice in my head trying to tell me I won’t be ready or that this is all a crazy dream.  But to keep me humble and leaning on Him, I like to recall something I heard when I first started serving in ministry: “God doesn’t call the qualifed, He qualifies the called”.

So while I’m still on American soil, Toastmasters is my next step of obedience as I become more equipped and qualifed to speak in Spain and beyond.  I’m proud to share the microphone, podium, stage or stump with Him.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series to read my speech and evaluate it for yourselves.

  • 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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