The 12 Days of Christmas & the Gifts from our True Love

Did you know that in many church settings throughout the Western World that the Christmas season extends beyond Christmas Day?  This post-Christmas period was popularized by the old song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” but truly there are twelve days of Christmas that are celebrated on an annual basis as part of the liturgical calendar.

12 Days of Christmas

The Epiphany

In Christian terms, the twelve days of Christmas are known as the season of Epiphany.  It starts the day after Christmas and ends with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6.  I’ve only become more familiar with it in recent years due to my relationship with my Spanish family and then later due to my adopted prayer times in the Catholic Church.  It is in celebration of the Magi’s (wise men’s) arrival to worship Jesus.

What is the significance of the Magi’s arrival (the Epiphany)?  Until that time, salvation was reserved for the Jews through God’s Covenant with Abraham.  The Magi were Gentiles (non-Jews) who followed the star in the sky from the East to worship Jesus.  They were the first Gentiles to worship him signifying that Jesus came to save us all.  We are also the Gentiles, and were excluded from the covenant.  In celebrating the Epiphany, we are celebrating our inclusion into God’s plan of salvation.

Spanish nativity scene (a Belen), photo courtesy of Pedro's family

Spanish nativity scene (a Belen) courtesy of Pedro’s family

Three King’s Day

In Spain, the Epiphany (feast day on January 6th) is called “Three King’s Day” (Dia de Los Reyes) and has traditionally been more popular than Christmas.  Spanish children look forward to this day and celebrate it with the receipt of presents, like on Christmas.  The giving of gifts on this day is a representation of the gifts given by the wise men, or “Three Kings.”

For children the fun starts on the evening of January 5, when the Three Kings are welcomed into the cities in a parade.  (Spain is known for its festive religious parades with ornate floats and statues.)  Children are rewarded with candies thrown out by the Three Kings along the parade route.  Similar to Christmas in America, children anticipate the arrival of the next day to see what kind of presents the Three Kings have left for them overnight.

Floats being prepared for a Spanish feast day parade, Toledo, Spain, June 2013.

Floats being prepared for a Spanish feast day parade, Toledo, Spain, June 2013.

Gifts from our True Love

Since Three King’s Day is celebrated by my Spanish family, I also make a conscious effort to acknowledge that day with them. This year, I’ve been making many observations since Christmas which remind me it is still the Christmas season.  It has been a deliberate slowing down of the season and watching how God is giving me daily experiences of His love, just like in the song, The 12 Days of Christmas.

It has been an amazing opportunity to witness God’s goodness in my life.  For instance, yesterday was the 5th day of Christmas and my True Love brought me three surprise encounters with friends.  The days before that, I was blessed with special family outings and meals, our annual family card game of Canasta, a wedding ceremony, a movie night out, and a Seahawks victory!

These haven’t been physical gifts.  They have all been experiences to treasure.  They are also reminders to me of how God wants to use me by connecting with others. That got me to thinking about the everyday gifts we receive from our Father in Heaven.

He is good; and yes, life is hard. 

With my ADHD, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other health issues, I seem to struggle with it every day.  But when I pause long enough to see the fruit of His love to me, I can see how faithful He has been to bring me through the ups and downs of it all.

Gifts from God

Farewell to 2014

2014 has been another monumental year for me.  I’ve had to normalize that my life keeps getting bigger and that the Lord has called me to go places and do things that I never dreamed possible for Him.

But with God all things are possible. (Luke 1:37)

So tonight when I celebrate the ringing in of the New Year, I’ve decided to celebrate the gifts from my True Love.  I eagerly embrace the coming of the New Year and what’s in store with arm’s wide open.

Happy New Year to my faithful readers, supporters of my writing, and to those who prayed for or donated to my call to share the gospel in Spain. You have all abundantly blessed me in 2014!  May you celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and the gifts from Our True Love every day in the coming year!

What gifts are you celebrating as you ring in the New Year?

HNY 2015

Coming Down From the Mountaintops, Part 2

In Part 1 of this post series, I wrote about how I am adapting to the changes in my life since returning from my mission to Spain.  In this post, I’m turning more to the biblical undergirding that I’ve been processing after coming down from the mountaintops of serving God across the world.

For Such a Time as This 2Esther’s Moment in History

The book of Esther is the story of how Esther was taken out of her Jewish heritage and community to live as a queen in the palace at Susa (present day Iran).  Esther 4:14 is often quoted when studying this book of the Bible: For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther’s presence as queen put her in a unique position to boldly speak to the king on behalf of her people.  She could’ve been killed for her reproach to him.  Yet she did it; for she knew that she was called by God ‘for such a time as this.’

I’m no Esther, but I have at times felt like my boldness for Christ has put me in ‘for such a time as this’ situations where I have to make a decision on how much I share and in what venues.  (Case in point, all my recent speaking for Celebrate Recovery and while on mission in Europe.)

Have you ever wondered what happened to Esther after saving the Jews from annihilation?  I have.

I’ve wondered how she lived her life after being such a catalyst for the survival of her people.  How did she keep it from going to her head?  How did she humble herself in the aftermath of such a major event in the history of her people?

I wonder because I want(ed) to learn how to live in the aftermath of living on the mountaintops for God (now and at other times in my life).  I know it’s possible.  Moses did it.  David did it.  They were not perfect people.

Social MediaWhat if They Lived Today?

If Esther lived today, she would have media breathing down her back.  Her image and story would be all over the news and fodder for social media.  Hmmm, would she have her own Facebook page or be posting what she had for dinner or who she was with?

Thankfully, they didn’t live in the social media frenzy that we live in today.  (What would they think about it?  I won’t go down that rabbit trail!)  Since the heroes and saints of the Bible didn’t have to face these types of pressures or intense social media saturation, does that mean the Bible is not relevant?  Of course not!  We are to live grounded on the Word of God.  We are to live humbly and morally, giving praise to God in times of success and in times of defeat.

I think that how we live in the valley, after a mountaintop experience is a much bigger testimonial for God’s work in our lives.  How do we carry on?  How do we face the trials and tribulations that follow?  Do we cling to Him or do we grow angry and bitter?

trust-godFor me, I persevere knowing that as Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I’ve seen it time and time again in my walk of faith.  I know God’s character and I trust Him.

My Humble Perspective

My perspective from being on the mountaintop for what seems like an eternity (on and off since my mother’s passing almost four years ago), is to not let my past dictate my future.  And my present circumstances, grappling with a new routine and change of focus post-mission, is not where I will be forever.

So I am re-thinking my priorities and once again adapting to a new normal in my life.  I’m backing off from the social media frenzy.  I’m trying to silence all of the ‘shoulds’ in my mind related to writing and publishing.  That even meant not writing about Thanksgiving and letting other November milestones like my birthday go without comment.

I’m living in the aftermath of ‘such a time as this’ and it’s humbling. 

God used me in Spain. He met me on the spiritual and physical mountaintops of France and Spain in very deep and significant ways.

On the mountaintops for God and with God, September 2014.

On the mountaintops for God and with God, September 2014.

He was there with me and for me. 

I’m not physically there anymore.  I’m coming to grips with the reality that He may not use me there physically again.  I can’t dwell on that, future trip, or let that dictate my value.  I did what God called me to do there.  I have peace about that.

I continue to pray for a spiritual revival in the country.  I ask the Lord to reveal the fruit to me in my lifetime.  In the meantime, I’m learning to be grateful for the peaks and the valleys of serving Him.

Finally, I know that I didn’t leave Him in France or Spain.  I came down from the mountaintops with God, in me and beside me.  That’s what He wanted to remind me of today as I re-engaged my blog for His purpose.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  Matthew 28:20, NIV

On a mountain high or a valley low, God uses it all.  Giving him the glory in the French Alps, September 2014.

On a mountain high or a valley low, God uses it all. Giving him the glory in the French Alps, September 2014.

Have you found God’s purpose for your life?  How are you using your gifts and talents for His Kingdom?  You never know when or where your ‘for such a time as this’ moment will be.  He is waiting to meet you there.   Just listen and follow His voice.

CR Mission Update 5 – Two Months Later

I never considered myself much of a gardener, but given time to germinate, the CR mission field in France and Spain is sure to produce a harvest of righteousness. The two-month threshold is confirmation of that.

Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau

Today marks two months since I (Ardis Nelson, a member of the CR leadership team at PLCC) taught at the seminar to introduce Celebrate Recovery to churches in Rivas, Spain, a suburb of Madrid. Since that time, I have returned to the busyness of my American life and the ‘business’ of locally serving at CR. It hasn’t been easy to come down off the spiritual high and mountaintops of France and Spain.

All choked up about serving on the mountaintops for God. All choked up about serving on the mountaintops for God.

After a month of re-acclimating, I shared a mission presentation at our regular Monday night CR meeting.  I included many photos and a video of one of our sightseeing excursions to Segovia, Spain (video below).

In the previous mission updates on this blog, I shared all of the good news from the mission.  At home in the safety of our CR meeting, I shared more about my…

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On Mission for God, Part 7 ~ Review & Gratitude

I am struggling! It’s not like last year’s return from Spain.  But I am at a loss on what to write about my trip and how to re-engage in my writing discipline since my return two weeks ago.

I’m not sure what’s up with that. Writer’s block?  Writing fatigue from the mission?  Spiritual attack?  Or just plain brain drain from the last eight months of intense planning and preparations?

The one thing I am reminded of is to have an attitude of gratitude. So I cannot help but write a post about how grateful I am to have experienced another trip of a lifetime.

My Week in France

I am grateful for…

  • The Air France strike. My flight from Paris to Lyon was cancelled so I took the high speed train to Grenoble instead.  That provided me with more time to explore Paris.  I attended mass at Notre Dame, stopped by the Eiffel Tower for a quick photo opp, and bought some souvenirs.
  • The invitation from my American missionary friends to come to France to share my testimony at their church. My hosts showered me with their generous hospitality and acclimated me to life in the French Alps.  We explored nearby villages by foot and scoped out some old cemeteries.  They literally took me to new heights (on a perch thousands of feet above the valley and on mountaintops). God took me to new heights spiritually.
  • The opportunity to share my testimony at the Celebrate Recovery meeting In Grenoble. I met women who resonated with my story and shared my desire for spiritual revival in France.

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My Week in Rivas

I am grateful for…

  • The invitation from Pastor Josh Fajardo to come to his church in Rivas and teach about Celebrate Recovery. I hadn’t even met Josh at this time last year.  God beautifully orchestrated all of these steps.
  • The opportunity to share my testimony in front of a Spanish audience. This also provided the opportunity for Rosa and Pedro to attend and hear me speak in their native language.  It was an amazing blessing!
  • The connections that I made with people in the Rivas church, old and new friends, committed to life transformation through Christ.
  • The privilege to announce that the Spanish version of “Walking My Mother Home” was published as a gift to the church in Rivas.
  • The hope of continued partnership with the Fajardo’s, the church in Rivas, and that CR will take root in Spain.

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My Week in Madrid

I am grateful for…

  • The generous hospitality showered on me by my Spanish family, Rafa, Rosa and Pedro.
  • The hours of walking around Madrid and being able to physically keep up with it all. Some of my walks took me to sights I saw last year, but this time around I was able to appreciate them more fully and explore more leisurely.
  • The opportunity to visit and pray in several local churches.  I treasured each one and especially being able to attend mass multiple times.
  • The comfort and safety I felt with my family and in Madrid. I was able to explore one day on my own, taking the subway, meeting new people, walking to new places, and dining out by myself.  It gave me great freedom to experience Madrid in a new way.
  • The short visit with Pedro’s extended family allowing me to reconnect with a niece who stole my heart last summer and Pedro’s grandfather. We enjoyed the giving and receiving of gifts.
  • The ability to give signed copies of my Spanish story to Pedro’s family and that it can now be shared electronically with other friends and family.
  • The closure and peace I had leaving my Spanish family. I have no idea when I will see them again, but I am trusting the Lord to bring us together in His timing.

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Most of All

I am grateful…

  • To the Lord for allowing me to be His Hands and Feet on the ground in France and Spain, and for perfectly putting all of the pieces into place for me to go on this mission of hope. I am grateful that He stretched me outside of my comfort zone and has grown my faith in new life-giving ways.
  • To everyone who prayed for the mission (before, during or after) and for all of the generous donations that allowed me to follow God’s call to Spain.
  • To Timberlake Church for donating $1500 to cover the cost of CR launch materials for Free Methodist churches in Spain.
  • To the CR leader team at Pine Lake Covenant Church for sponsoring and supporting this mission across the globe.
  • And, to my family for taking care of the household for three weeks and supporting my call to Spain.

thank-you

Yes, today is Halloween, but let’s not forget to be thankful for the blessings in our lives. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving.  Let’s start a season of thanks-living.  What are you thankful for?

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Looking for updates on the CR mission to Spain, check out the blog post series on the ministry site where I serve,  celebraterecoveryontheplateau.org or re-blogged here.

English Additions to “Walking My Mother Home” Available

As I mentioned in my announcement about the E-book of “Walking My Mother Home,” it was a writing dream come true for me to publish my story in Spanish. I wanted it to be a complete book, with Preface, Foreword, etc.  So I had to write those additional English pieces in order to have them translated into Spanish.

Writing the Additions

In my quest to determine how best to compile a more complete E-book, I researched the parts of a book, and reviewed books by some of my favorite authors and published friends. My writing plopped me right back into the throes of my story—the grief, the joy, and the miraculous way that God has been tying this season of my life all together.  And it was all beautifully orchestrated in time to share on my mission in Spain (and the church in Rivas).

It was also especially poignant for me to share it with my Spanish family while there. Last year, I left them with a signed copy of Journeys to Mother Love.  It was more a symbolic and sentimental gesture than anything else because most of the family couldn’t read it.  However, while I was in Spain last week, I had copies of the Spanish book printed and bound.  I personalized and signed each one for family members.  My only disappointment was that I couldn’t give the books to them personally.

‘Foreword’ Thinking

When it came to determining who would write the Foreword that was an easy decision. It had to be Pedro.  We had that discussion a few years ago.  I was getting ready to work on my memoir in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

In doing other writing research, I came across references to the movie “Finding Forrester” as a good writer’s story.  It is about a writing relationship between Forrester, a Pulitzer Prize author (played by Sean Connery), and his unlikely protégé, Jamal.  The ending scene of the movie spoke volumes to me. Watch the first two minutes of the scene to see why, Letter to Jamal.

“Jamal: Opens the letter.
Forrester: Dear Jamal, Someone I once knew wrote that we walk away from our dreams afraid that we may fail or worse yet, afraid we may succeed. You need to know that while I knew so very early that you would realize your dreams, I never imagined I would once again realize my own. Seasons change young man, and while I may have waited until the winter of my life, to see the things I’ve seen this past year, there is no doubt I would have waited too long, had it not been for you.”

Role reversal, Pedro signing the Foreword of my personal copy of the book.

Role reversal, Pedro signing the Foreword of my personal copy of the book.

I found Ardis in the process of coming alongside my mother as she prepared to leave this earth, and in my relationship with my Spanish family. Pedro was a big catalyst in my following my writing dreams back then.  Like Forrester’s posthumous request to Jamal, I knew that someday Pedro would write my Foreword.  I told him then of my desire, not knowing how or when the right time or context would present itself.  Now was God’s perfect timing. (Muchas gracias, Pedro!)

I’d Like to Thank…

The other part of these additional writing pieces that I am excited about publishing are my acknowledgments to those who made publishing my story possible. The list of names was too long to detail and translate on the page, but if you were a close part of my life during the writing process, you know you have my gratitude for your prayers and encouragement.  (You know who you are.)  Below is an excerpt of my acknowledgements:

First and foremost, I thank God for prompting me to write and submit this story for publishing. He healed me, and He gets the credit. He is using my pain for His glory and I am eternally grateful for that.

Thank you pen

Second, I am indebted to the bi-lingual expertise and selfless donation of time and energy by Oscar Farfan (Saddleback Church, CA) for the Spanish version.  I am grateful for his making this story available to a new audience of readers, and for having it ready in time for release while on my Celebrate Recovery mission in the fall of 2014.

I am also grateful to:

  • Cathy Lawton, publisher at Cladach Publishing, for seeing the value in this story, accepting it and granting me permission to translate it into other languages.
  • My Celebrate Recovery community at Pine Lake Covenant Church, for their steadfast support throughout the writing process and for approval of the CR mission to Europe.
  • My prayer partners, mentors and pastors who encouraged and supported my healing and writing journey.
  • My Spanish family, especially Rosa, Rafa, and Pedro, for extending their friendship and love across cultural, language, and religious differences, and for being such an integral part of my healing process.
  • My husband and sons, for their patience, understanding, and love as I pursued my writing dreams and the call into missions.

Book Dedication

Finally, I dedicated my story to someone who without their acceptance of me and my friendship would not have put the healing steps into motion. It is to Rosa, Pedro’s mother.Book dedication

The Complete Story

So today, it is with great pleasure that I am sharing those additional pieces to “Walking My Mother Home” in English. If you’ve already read the story, I encourage you to sit back and read it again with the bookends of the Preface, Foreword by Pedro, (then “Walking My Mother Home” from Journeys to Mother Love published by Cladach Publishing) and the Epilogue. You’ll be glad you did. I’ll be including these pieces with each book that I sell from now on.

PREFACE to Walking My Mother Home

FOREWORD to Walking My Mother Home

EPILOGUE to Walking My Mother Home

May this story inspire you on your journey and turn your healing into hope.

 

 

 

CR Mission Update 4 – Additional Meetings in Rivas

I’ve been back from Spain a few days, still dealing with the effects of jet lag and trying to re-integrate into life in America. I’m feeling very blessed that the Lord would use me to be His Hands and Feet on the ground in Spain. There is so much I’d love to write about all of this, but for now am passing on the latest in the series from the ministry where I serve at Pine Lake Covenant Church. Muchas gracias for your support and prayers while I was on this mission of faith.

Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau

In my (Ardis Nelson, member of the CR leader team at PLCC) last post about the Celebrate Recovery (CR) mission to Spain, we had just completed the seminar portion of our time at the host church in Rivas, Comunidad Cristiana Luz y Vida (Light and Life Christian Community). The following day was Sunday, October 5. We were given the Sunday school time slot to present more CR information to the overall church.

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CR Mission Update 3 – The Seminar in Rivas

My time in Spain is coming to a close. I’ve walked what seems like a hundred miles this past week around Madrid and visited over a dozen churches and one Egyptian temple. Thanks to all who made this mission and prayer journey possible. I’m excited to see what God does in the physical realm next. Adios España! Vaya con Dios!

Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau

The seminar to introduce Celebremos la Recuperacion (Spanish version of Celebrate Recovery) was a big success! The people in attendance at the seminar were very open to this ministry and interested in bringing it into their churches or para church organizations.  The host church in Rivas, Comunidad Cristiana Luz y Vida (Light and Life Christian Community), is prayerfully discerning how to integrate CR into their cultural context and what their next steps will be.

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Announcement: E-Book for “Walking My Mother Home” Available

I have a big announcement to make that I’ve been keeping a secret for a while–until just the right time! In preparing for my mission to Spain, I was also working in the background on a special writing project.  I announced it at the church in Rivas last week and am now officially announcing it here on my site.

A Writing Dream Fulfilled

It is the completion of the Spanish translation of my story “Walking my Mother Home,” from the compilation Journeys to Mother Love, published by Cladach Publishing in 2012.  There is a long story as to how this all came to be.  As usual it includes surrendering the outcome to the Lord and waiting on His timing.  It is the fulfillment of a writing dream come true for me.

When my manuscript was accepted by my publisher in January 2012, I knew in my heart that the Lord wanted me to share this story beyond an American audience. It only seemed natural that Spanish audiences would resonate with the story as much as Americans have.  So I negotiated the inclusion of the foreign translation rights as part of my contract.

Unforeseen Obstacles to Translating the Story

Later that same year, Pedro, the Spanish exchange student who is a part of this story, agreed to translate it for me. He completed his translation of the story, written out by hand while on holiday in Mallorca.  While he translated the story, he also shared it in Spanish with his family.  They, of course, already knew the story as retold by Pedro and Rosa, but this was my turn to share it with them from my perspective.

optima_TRANSLATION-SPANISHIt was truly a gift to hear Pedro recount to me how interested his grandfather was in the story, hanging on every word. (The story recounts the intersection of his wife’s passing with my mother’s death.)  Unfortunately, that version of the translation was forever lost when Pedro’s computer crashed.  Soon after, Pedro’s music career took off; and I knew he’d never be able to translate the story.

I didn’t have any budget for a professional translator. I wasn’t seeking the Spanish version to sell it online or make any money from the E-book.  My desire was to give the E-book to the church in Rivas and other people in Spain as a gift.  In light of that, I was hoping to get the story translated by someone as a way to support the mission to Spain.

I let go of the how’s and when’s of a Spanish translation ever being done. I kept praying.  I kept asking for help.  God was continuing to stretch me and to build my trust in Him.

free-internet-marketing-ebooksA New Spanish Connection

Then it happened. It happened in such an unexpected way, and it will be used in ways that I never dreamed possible.

Oscar, my Spanish contact at Saddleback Resources, where the Celebrate Recovery materials (Celebremos la Recuperación) are sold and the Spanish version was translated, donated his time to the cause for the mission. Much to my surprise the Spanish version of “Walking My Mother Home” will also be used as a resource for Spanish testimony requests.  I was blown away by Oscar’s generous gift to translate this story, to know that it would be used beyond the mission, and also that it would be ready in time for the mission to Spain (where I am still on location).

This all happened the few weeks prior to my departure on the mission. I added the customary additional pieces to the story, like a Preface, so it would be a more complete book.  Those pieces are part of the Spanish version of the E-book.  (Those pieces are published on the post, English Additions to “Walking My Mother Home” Available.)

Encaminando a Mi Madre a Casa

So it is with great delight and gratitude that I am officially announcing and publishing the Spanish E-book of “Walking My Mother Home.” The Spanish title is Encaminando a Mi Madre a Casa.  It is free for online reading or you can download the PDF.  The link is on my new Spanish page, here.

Walking My Mother Home Spanish version released October 2014.

Walking My Mother Home Spanish version released October 2014.

If you know any people who speak Spanish, please direct them to my new free Spanish E-book, Encaminando a mi Madre a Casa.

Please note: The English version of “Walking My Mother Home” is only available in the compilation, Journeys to Mother Love. Paperback or e-book versions are available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Cladach Publishing.  Autographed copies are available through my site by clicking here.

On Mission for God, Part 5 ~ Getting Nervous

There it is—that old familiar feeling of fear. This time it is accompanied by the old mantra that I’ve struggled to banish from my mind for the last few years…  “I don’t know what I’m doing.”  It’s been months since it’s surfaced.  Yes, there have been doubts along the way.  But now…I leave in less than two weeks!  I think Satan is up to his little tricks again.

god-is-in-control1

The Need to Control

One of the reasons this is so hard for me is because it triggers many of the issues that brought me to my knees and to my first Celebrate Recovery meeting ten years ago—my workaholism, perfectionism and need to control.  I’m stumbling over them again as I try to fit in all that needs to be done before I leave (what I want done).

It is a struggle to let go and let God. This is the biggest layer of letting go and trusting God that I’ve ever had to do.  It is one of the biggest sacrifices that I’ve ever had to do in a ministry setting as well.

But isn’t that the way God works?  He is always stretching us and chiseling us to be more like Jesus.

 

Check out God’s Chisel (above video), by the Skit Guys, based on this very message.  They perform regularly at the annual CR Summit at Saddleback Church, where I saw them last month.

The Loneliness

Although I am partnered with two male missionary colleagues across the world, it feels like a very lonely call to me. Our connections are limited by a 9-hour time difference and other work and ministry commitments.  We each have our own roles in the mission.

My partner in France is working on the training materials.  My partner in Spain is organizing and hosting the seminar at his church.  I’m up to my eyeballs in fund raising, speaking, writing, and preparing to leave the country for three weeks.

My French missionary partner preparing Spanish training materials.

My French missionary partner preparing Spanish training materials.

My loneliness partly stems from working in isolation at home. But it also is highly triggered every time I send out an appeal for donations or prayer support.  I hate asking.  I hate facing the silence (and perceived rejection).

It triggers the abandonment issues of my past and brings my little Ardis screaming to the surface.  Last week my angst over this sent me to my counselor for a short session to look at more unresolved hurts.  The tears naturally came like I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Little Ardis is scared about taking these steps into the unknown.  She remembers what happened last year—the culture shock and not having a voice.  Adult Ardis is soothing her.  SHE is trusting God and taking steps of faith.

Normalizing the Growth Process

The stress I am under right now is normal for this type of situation. I am facing a lot of ambiguity.  I have since I started down this road four years ago when I reached out to Rosa and stepped into the healing of my mother wounds.  I have had to normalize so many things in my life since then—a family connection in Spain, my writing ministry, Pedro’s film composing pursuits, and now out of the blue, being called into missions.

growing-pains

And with growth comes pain.

That is a big part of the message I want to convey in France and Spain. In order to change our patterns of behavior and face the hurts that are keeping us from living the life that God intends, we have to embrace the pain.  It is not easy.  It takes time.  It takes courage—lots of it.

When you use the biblical 12-steps of Celebrate Recovery as your guide, Jesus is with you every step of the way. Once you start to notice the change, you don’t want to go back.

It brings Freedom!  It brings Hope!

So, yes, I am getting nervous. It is normal.  I’m not going to let it stop me or slow me down.  I know that God has called me to do this—regardless of the outcome.  It’s in His hands.

He told me to “GO.”  I need His permission not to go.

mission

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19, NIV)

Please join me in prayer for this mission (September 24 – October 16, 2014) for the Word to take root and start a renewal of spiritual growth in France and Spain.

On Mission for God, Part 4 ~ The Birth of the Call

At a recent Mission presentation at a local recovery meeting, I spoke about how my call was birthed while praying in Spain last summer.  But the seeds for Celebrate Recovery (CR) in Spain were planted two years prior.  I was flooded with emotions as I prepared for the presentation and pieced together all of the events and circumstances that led me to this time in my life.

Starbucks SignThe First Meeting

Friday, October 7, 2011—I sat in a Starbucks coffee shop meeting Marvin and Lisa Klein.*  They were missionaries from my church who were serving in France.  We had never met before, although my children had donated to their mission years ago when they were in Sunday school.  The Klein’s were on sabbatical for one year in the States.  They were forming a leadership team to launch Celebrate Recovery at my church, heard about me and my experience with CR, and asked to meet.

I knew going into this meeting that the ultimate intent for the Klein’s was to get experience so they could launch CR in Grenoble, France, their new home.  I told the Klein’s about my Spanish connection with Pedro, the exchange student who stayed with us the previous two summers.  I told them about my desire to visit Spain one day to meet Pedro’s mother Rosa, and their family.  I told him a bit about our family’s story, which at that time in my life God was calling me to write and have published.

Marvin told me that I would one day share my testimony in France.  I was flattered, and excited about the prospect, but only took him half seriously.  I was more interested in sharing the story in Spain.  However, with a Protestant population of only 1%, it seemed that would never happen..

An Education in Religious History

It was after that meeting that I started to get an understanding of the spiritual climate in Spain.  I didn’t realize that the Protestant Reformation had never made it to Spain.  I heard from some that any church outside of the Roman Catholic Church was considered a cult.  Those were shocking words to me.  I had a wonderful relationship with my Spanish family.  We had a mutual acceptance of each other’s faith—Catholic and Protestant.  And in fact, it was our faith that bonded our families with the painful passing of Rosa’s and my mothers, who were both practicing Catholics.

After those conversations I never really considered that CR would ever launch in Spain.  I just knew that I would someday visit Spain and meet Rosa.  Marvin and I went on to serve together on the team that launched CR the following year.  The Kleins’ returned to France in preparation to launch CR at their home church in Grenoble.

Reformation Map

Since that time I’ve studied more about the Protestant Reformation and the history of the Church in Spain.  I also experienced the difference in the spiritual environment firsthand while traveling there for six weeks last summer.  All of this eventually (and quite unexpectedly) led to the mission in the fall and the partnership with Marvin to teach CR in Rivas, a suburb of Madrid.

Expanding the Call to France

I had originally hoped to visit France last summer and give my testimony in Grenoble.  When that didn’t work out, I gave up the thought of ever going to France.  One year later, the Lord has made provision for me to speak in Grenoble.  And I don’t know any French—now that is scary!

As further confirmation of my call, Marvin is working on the French translation of my published story, “Walking my Mother Home.”  I will be providing complimentary copies of the novella to members of the Kleins’ church when I speak there later this month.  That is very exciting news indeed!

The view from the Klein's home in Grenoble, France.

The view from the Klein’s home in Grenoble, France.

The seed for planting CR in Spain (and my speaking in France) was planted when I met the Kleins’ at that Starbucks in Redmond, WA, three years ago.  It had to lie dormant before it could germinate and see the light of day.  On October 7, 2014, exactly three years later, Marvin, Lisa, and me will all be in Madrid, and have plans to celebrate at a Starbucks there.

It just goes to show that you never know what door God is going to open next or how He will use you or your story.  I’m learning to never say never, and to dream BIG, because God is always bigger than my never.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20, NIV)

Only 3 more weeks until I leave on my mission!

Only 3 more weeks until I leave on my mission!

Mission Update

I’m so grateful for the continued receipt of donations for this mission, including an offering when I spoke at the local CR meeting.  I’m sharing the call again later today at the PLCC Mission Board meeting.

I’ll be stepping on Spanish soil with my French missionary partners one month from today, so it’s not too late to support this mission.  In fact, now IS the time to help put me over the top in my fund raising goal of $3,000.

To donate to the Celebrate Recovery mission and plant new seeds of hope into France and Spain, click here.  To be added to the list for prayer updates, fill out the contact form on my site.  Thank you so much!  Every little bit helps.

*For more information about the Klein’s and their ministry in France, check out their latest missionary newsletter.

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    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.

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