On Red Alert for the Spiritual Needs in France

My heart was heavy this morning as I awoke to more news about the awful terrorist attacks in Paris yesterday. As an American, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the attacks on our country on 9/11/2001.

Horrific.  Senseless.  Pure evil.

Pray for Paris

Where were you when…?

Will this be another day in history that we point to like 9/11 saying, “Where were you when you heard the news of the Friday the 13th Paris terrorist attacks?”

Late yesterday afternoon while waiting in the reception room for a chiropractic appointment, to pass the time I scanned Facebook on my cell phone. As seems to be more and more the case lately, that is where I hear of this sort of breaking news.

Friends were posting updates to pray for Paris. My attention quickly switched to the internet for the latest news, but was interrupted when I was called in to see my doctor for an adjustment followed by a well-deserved massage appointment.

Then late in the day my attention returned to the events across the world while watching a network news show dedicated to this topic. I’m not one to watch these sorts of shows, usually focused on sensational journalism and high profile events. However, this was different because I have a connection to Paris and France in general.

Paris police

My French Connection

Ever since my mission to France last fall, the people and this country have more meaning and significance to me and in my prayer life.

I was only in Paris for a few hours between connections while traveling to Grenoble, France where I stayed with my missionary partners and spoke at their church.

I could’ve bypassed Paris, made a shorter layover, etc. However, when I started booking my travel arrangements, I felt God press upon me to visit Notre Dame and to pray for the people of France.

There were many obstacles that I overcame to do that, including averting the Air France strike while traveling. Through God’s providence and against all physical odds, I arrived on the footsteps of Notre Dame Cathedral five minutes before the noon Mass.

I prayer-walked through the cathedral and through the streets of Paris that day. It was a spiritual high for me.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

After having such a spiritual experience in Paris last fall, the sense of darkness hit me again last night as I watched the scenes from Paris: images of people’s bodies lying in the streets covered with white sheets, police cordoning off and guarding areas like armed militia, and hearing eye witness accounts of what happened.

Before I arrived in Paris last fall, I researched the religious history of France. I was aghast at the religious wars that were fought in this country. It led to a huge divide in the country.

Even today there is still animosity and emotional wounds carried down through family generations between Catholics and Protestants in France. This has led to apathy for organized religion in general and a dramatic decline in church attendance.

The Ongoing Battle

Centuries ago, the blood of the martyrs was splattered throughout this country. Yesterday new blood was splattered on the streets of Paris—unsuspecting victims in a new battle.

My heart aches. In my mind I pray more fervently.

Centuries ago the Huguenots fought for their religious beliefs against the kings and queens of France. The battle lines were drawn. There were persecutions, forced conversions, and ostracisms from society.

Today Parisians, Americans, and people across the world are also caught up in an invisible battle for our souls. It is terrorist attacks like the one yesterday that remind us of the evil intentions of cowardly soldiers who secretly plot against our society.

Their tactic is fear. They are being misled by the biggest enemy we have.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44, NIV)

One of many memorial sites cropping up in Paris.

One of many memorial sites cropping up in Paris.

On Red Alert to Pray

As Christians, we are called to put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Our strategy is to fight our battles in prayer first. Let’s not be misled by the lies of the Enemy.

It is the Blood of Jesus that overcomes the blood that is splattered across the land in countries across the world.

I am praying for the comfort of the families affected by these horrible crimes against humanity. Like a security alert system that sounds a loud signal of imminent danger, I am also on red alert to pray for God’s power to be poured out on the people of France, for a spiritual awakening and renewal of their Christian faith.

Let us all pray as we feel led for the spiritual and physical needs in France.

In times of tragedy, cry out to God. He will hear you.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalm 18:6, NIV)

He is listening now to our prayers and petitions for France.

To read about the Paris attacks from the perspective of my colleagues in France, click here.

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.

Holy Week, Holy People

Holy Week—the pinnacle of the Christian faith. It starts with Palm Sunday—the remembrance of Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem on a donkey while surrounded by crowds cheering ‘Hosanna’. It ends on Easter Sunday, with the Good News of the empty tomb. He is risen!  In between is the story of sacrificial love and gruesome suffering that led to the exchanged lives that Believers in Christ receive.Holy Week Faith Matters

It is not unusual for my mind to be on matters of Christian faith. I am not a trained pastor. I haven’t attended seminary. I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar. So why would I spend time on Holy Week sitting down to write a post about it?

It is because FAITH matters! And YOU matter to God!

If you are anything like me, you may not have grown up believing that, or maybe you still have doubts about it to this day. The root of that doubt doesn’t lie with God. It lies to a large degree with the formation of your identity as a young child and your family of origin.

You matter to God

Childlike Faith

In Luke 18:16-17, Jesus says “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Was Jesus excluding adults in His Kingdom? No, He was reminding us of the innocence of a child. He was telling us to trust—a characteristic that we often lose in childhood due to shame, disappointments, emotional wounds, abuse, etc. This mistrust or absence of innocence can be brought on by a traumatic incident and sudden loss, or may be due to negative messages that over time we integrate into our souls as unworthiness. With those kinds of identity messages being heaped on us at an early age it’s no wonder we reject God or don’t believe we are who He says we are.  (I know because I have struggled with that myself.)*

My-identity-in-Christ

Who Are We?

We are Holy People!

Hard to believe?  Then consider the standard you are using to determine the validity of that statement. Are you believing the father of all lies, the devil (John 8:44)? Or maybe you are comparing yourself to the Heroes of the Faith praised in Hebrews 11.

Are you saying, “I’m no Moses”, or “I don’t have faith like Abraham?” These Fathers of our Faith ended their lives well, but they had many sinful acts in their lifetimes. Moses murdered an Egyptian and fled to Midian (Exodus 2). Out of fear for his own safety, Abraham passed off his wife Sarah, as his sister, allowing a king to take her as his wife (Genesis 12). These heroes of our faith were broken people who failed, but God still used them, just like He uses us.

Holiness

Proof of our Holiness

How can we consider ourselves holy? Romans 10:9 says, If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus sacrifice was the price to make us holy in God’s eyes. God doesn’t see our sins anymore. We are the ones who condemn ourselves and continue to act like or believe we are unworthy.

Still having a hard time seeing yourself as holy—or that God would consider you holy? I grew up thinking (mistakenly so, by the way) that saints were only those people who were canonized by the Catholic Church. However, there are many verses in the Bible that reference God’s people as saints. For instance, Paul uses the term saints over and over again in his greetings to the New Testament churches. When our time comes to leave this life, Psalm 116:15 tells us: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (New King James Version).

As you enter into these last few days of Holy Week, remember who you are, and whose you are. Your holiness was paid for with a price. The proof is in the empty tomb. He is risen indeed!

Empty Tomb

*For a great book on our identity in Christ, read Identity Crisis: Reclaim the True You by Tamara J Buchan, or better yet, attend one of her amazing retreats.

Featured Badge CMB 1CHANCE to WIN: This post was selected as the featured post on Christian Mommy Blogger.  If you arrived by way of that site, please comment below how this post touched you to be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of my book, Journeys to Mother Love.

MORE CHANCES TO WIN!!  ‘Like’ my Facebook page or subscribe to my blog (on the right sidebar).  One entry for each that you do–up to three entries total.  Entries close on midnight PST on Sunday, 5/4/14.

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

 

What Team Are You Rooting For?

I live in Seattle, Washington.  If you are living in the U.S., you’d have to be living the life of a hermit to not know that the Seattle Seahawks are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday.  It is our second time to play in this sacred American football game.  The first time was in 2006 when we played against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I remember it well because it was a frustrating game to watch.  Seattleites felt cheated out of a Super Bowl victory due to some poor officiating.  This time around I’m hoping and praying for better calls on the field.

At a Seahawks rally before the Super Bowl in 2006.

Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nichols addresses the crowd at a Seahawks rally before the Super Bowl in 2006.

My Sports Affiliation

I don’t follow sports in general, and am not a football fan by nature.  I grew up in the St. Louis area in the 1970s, and thanks to my maternal grandfather and my favorite uncle, I was groomed to be a fan of the MLB St. Louis Cardinals.  That was back in the days when Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Joe Torre, and Keith Hernandez were the stars of the team.

When I moved to Seattle as an adult, I transferred my fan loyalty to the Seattle Mariners.  (Yes, it’s been a rough tenure to be a Mariners fan.)  We have had our moments though, like the 1995 ‘Refuse to Lose’ pennant race and the 2001 season–when 8 team members were on the MLB American League All-Star team, and we tied the MLB record of 116 wins in a season.

I have instilled that love for baseball into my sons too—to some degree anyway.  There were several years when we made a ritual of going to Opening Day games together or we’d stand in line for players’ signatures at the dugout.  In reality, it was more of my passion, but we did have fun together.

Mariner's Opening Day 2009, watching the return of Ken Griffey, Jr. to Seattle with my son.

Mariner’s Opening Day 2009, watching the return of Ken Griffey, Jr. to Seattle with my son.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

The point behind all this sports talk is about how we can jump on the bandwagon for the next best thing.  We have to be careful who we align ourselves with and what team we are rooting for.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the next best ‘thing’.  I know I have–remember Beanie Babies?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t get excited for the Seahawks going to the Super Bowl.  On the contrary, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t follow things more closely this year.  Local friends are going all out with their Facebook posts.  Everyone is wearing team clothing or the team colors.  The 12th Man flag is flying all over town.

When Sunday’s game rolls around, I’ll be cheering the Seahawks on to victory.  I’ll be all caught up in the excitement with everyone else in Seattle.  GO HAWKS!

Seahawks Boeing 747

The Battle for Our Lives

The real game or fight though is the battle for our souls.  It is a battle where our main foe is Satan—the father of all lies.  1 Peter 5:8 tells us: He prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Like the receiver who runs with abandon toward the end zone for a touchdown, we have to be on guard for Satan’s attacks.  He has a game plan designed to divert us from leading the life God intends for us.

I’ve been on Jesus’ team for many years.  Although I know the victory is His, there are many times in my life when I can’t see that in the physical world, and it is hard for me to believe—due to tragic world events or what is going on in my personal life.  I’ve learned to trust Him no matter what.

So the question I am posing today is not necessarily who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl, but more importantly, whose team are you on?  When the 2-minute warning goes off, whose side are you going to be on?  The side for eternal life or eternal death?  It’s not a difficult choice.  Check out the video below produced by the Seahawks, and then you can decide.

P.S. I don’t think God is siding with the Seahawks or the Broncos for a victory at Sunday’s Super Bowl game, but I sure hope we find some favor with the referees this time around.  🙂

12th man Seattle skyline

Updated 2/2/2014:  Seahawks win 43-8 over the Broncos!  What an unbelievable victory! The first words out of QB Russell Wilson’s mouth, “God is so good.”  Yes, He is!  Thanks for bringing the Lombardi Trophy home to Seattle.  Thanks for displaying such a wonderful walk of faith and grace under pressure.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson post Super Bowl comments, "Why not us?"

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson post Super Bowl comments, “Why not us?”

Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness

It’s no secret that my mother was mentally ill—not now anyway.  I’ve written about it on my blog and was the basis for my published story in Journeys to Mother Love (Cladach Publishing).  Chapter 8 in the Table of Contents reads: Distanced by Mental Illness, Walking my Mother Home, by Ardis A. Nelson.  There it is; my lifelong struggle in black and white on the page for all to see.

Chapter 8 is my story.

Chapter 8 is my story.

I’ve heard from many people how they resonated with my story.  It is usually in regards to how they are caring for a loved one at the end of life or it touches an accord with those whose parent has died.  It gives them hope and encouragement for the journey no matter how recent or faraway the experience was.

Distancing Myself

My story isn’t just about how I re-established contact and cared for my mentally ill mother at the end of her life though.  The bigger story is how I distanced myself from getting to know myself as well.  At 53 years old, it is what I am still working through.  It is the theme of the memoir that I hope to someday have published.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 10:38 that as followers of Christ we all have a cross to bear.  My cross seems to be the legacy that I have of living in the shadows of a mother who had mental illness.  Even though I had amazing healing when my mother died (as mentioned in my published story), I can still revert to my negative way of thinking and seeing things through the filter of mental illness in my family.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Many people live in the shadow of mental illness.  They were raised in a family with a parent who was mentally ill.  Or maybe they grew up hearing stories about crazy Aunt Sue or Uncle Joe.  I know I did; and it wasn’t just about my mother, but others in the family as well.

When I was growing up there was a huge stigma attached to mental illness.  There were barbaric practices perpetuated on mental patients—witness the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” from 1975.

Jack Nicholson's character receiving shock therapy, a barbaric practice, in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Jack Nicholson’s character receiving shock therapy, a barbaric practice, in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I saw that movie in the theater when I was 15.  The movie hit way to close to home as my mother was in and out of mental hospitals and had shock therapy when I was in elementary school.  Watching that movie scared me and maybe even scarred me emotionally.

Last November when I started work on my memoir as part of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, I watched that movie again for the first time in over 30 years.  It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but I think that was because I watched it more for historical reasons and for context in my memoir writing.  In other words, I detached myself from my emotions.  I thank God that wasn’t my fate.

Emotional Highs and Lows

At this stage of life with hormones raging out of control, it is hard at times to not let that dark cloud and fear of mental illness grab a hold of me.  It seemed to hit me particularly hard after my time in Spain.  It’s no wonder.

The movie is still playing, although at times it may feel like it's over.

The movie is still playing, although at times it may feel like it’s over.

I’ve been on an emotional high the last few years as I stepped into the world of publishing as a first time author, launched Pedro’s professional music career, and prepared for my trip to Spain.  It has often felt like a dream to me—or as I’ve openly expressed—like a movie with Pedro’s music as the soundtrack.

Three months after my return home, I’ve finally re-adjusted to life in America.  As I slowed down and re-focused my attention on my own self-care, at times it felt like the credits scrolled by on the screen and the music stopped playing.  Just like in the theater, all that was left was the mess on the floor to clean up—most notably a body that was exhausted and sometimes depressed.

Rejecting the Lie

I’m discovering some profound things about myself as I work through this next layer of healing.   I know it is what God is requiring from me so that He can more fully use me for His bigger purpose.  As I do, I am clinging to my identity in Christ and not some worn out lie or stigma.

Are you believing a lie from your past?  Who will you believe—our heavenly Father who loves you, or the Evil One, the thief and father of all lies?  What are you doing to flip the switch in your thinking? 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10, NIV)

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones

Over the past few weeks I have been under an amazing amount of spiritual attack.  The attack actually started a few months ago as we formed a team at my church to launch a Celebrate Recovery ministry.  Initially the attack was in the form of many organizational and logistical obstacles to overcome.  But then a few weeks ago, the attack turned very personal in nature when my motives and recovery were questioned. 
When this first happened, a friend told me that I was being bullied.  That is exactly what it was—only this time it wasn’t being done by some school age kid, it was by an adult.  It was a painful process to walk through.  As I did, I was able to share with my 14-year-old son how to take responsibility for my part in the matter, offer and seek forgiveness and to walk tall in midst of the continuing attack.  I was thankful to be able to turn this into a teaching moment with him.  Like my friend, he recognized it as bullying from the start.
sticks-and-stonesIn hindsight, I can definitely see how Satan used this to throw me off course and to attempt to derail me from being on this team.  Sometimes I even became my own worst enemy in the process.  When I was young, kids used to say ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’.  As an adult, I know that those words are not true.  Words do hurt people.  And in fact, quite often people intentionally do use words to hurt people.  After all, hurt people hurt people.  Their words can and do stick with you—if you allow it.
The voices from people in our past, including bullies can keep us stuck in the past and prevent us from living the life that God has called us to.  Satan wants us to keep believing those lies.  He puts the bait out there and wants us to get hooked on it.  Once we do, we can easily go down the road of doubt, self-condemnation and becoming a victim.  It is not a pretty sight.  I know because I have been caught up in it in the past and have to constantly be on the lookout for it.
That is precisely the reason I love Celebrate Recovery.  It is all about working through our hurts, habits and hang-ups.  Quite often it is the words that have been spoken into our lives in the past that we don’t let go of.  We repeat them in our mind or we listen to the voices in our head that tell us we are not good enough and that God could never use us or love us after what we have done.  Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to work through those hurts with others who also struggle and have found victory over it through Christ.
I know that Satan is not done with his attacks against me or this ministry.  He knows it is a threat to his dominion.  I also know that God is not done with me yet.  He is using my trials to build me up into a better leader.  I have a group of amazing mentors, accountability partners and prayer warriors around me that have walked this road as well.  I know I am not going down a path that has not been walked before.  I have some battle scars, but will proudly reveal them to those who want to walk this journey with me.
the sword - word of godI have often been reminded of Ephesians 6:12 over the last few weeks.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Then God’s still quiet voice also reminds me of his promises as in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
In the face of persecution and spiritual attack, we have a choice to make.  Are you going to let the ‘stick and stones’ lies of the enemy define you or are you going to believe what God tells you about your identity in Christ and His plans for you?  I choose to believe God.  I know He’s got my back.  What about you?
  • WELCOME to my site!

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

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

  • Returning to Spain

    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29th, 2018
    Vamos a España!
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 367 other followers

  • Recent Posts

  • Ardis A Nelson ~ Writer ~ Speaker

  • Most Popular Topics

  • Journeys to Mother Love

  • What I Write About

  • Songs Composed by Pedro Gonzalez Arbona

  • Copyright Notice

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

%d bloggers like this: