My Big Mouth

I’m sure when I was growing up that one of my brothers must’ve told me I had a big mouth. You know, it’s the sort of things that kids say when they tattle on each other (like confessing to your parent that your sibling broke something). Well, all these years later, I have proof–not that I was a tattle-tale, but that I literally have a big mouth. I became painfully aware of it this week, and here’s how…

Dental Hell

The story starts back when I was in junior high. We’ve all suffered through this awkward time of life–adjusting to peer-pressure and hormonal havoc with our emotional state and physical body. I had an overbite and a noticeable gap between my front teeth. It was at this time that I was told I had to get a full set of braces. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was also told I had to have 4 permanent teeth (my canines near the front) removed. I don’t know if this was a common practice back then, but I was told it was to make room for my wisdom teeth.

The removal of my permanent teeth was a rather traumatic experience for me. I was given Novocain and had the extraction done on two separate appointments. That started my fear and near hatred of dentists. My regular appointments to the orthodontist just added to the inner anger and contempt I held for any physician who ‘cared’ for my teeth. Every time I left the orthodontist’s office my mouth was in pain for days. There was such intense pulling on my teeth and gums to shift everything forward and fill the gaps left by the pulled canine teeth. I wore old-fashioned all-metal braces for 3 years.

Once is Not Enough

Twenty years later, I found myself in the same situation, starring into the bright light above my head in a dentist’s office and being told I needed braces–again! Apparently, I was told years earlier that I would have to wear my retainers for the rest of my life. I have no idea when I stopped wearing them–probably sometime in college because I have no recollection of having them when I got married. My teeth had shifted back and were causing a gap in the front teeth.

So I endured a second set of braces at the same time I was in my second pregnancy. It was not a pretty picture–literally. Imagine this…a pregnant woman in all her ‘splendor’ with a mouthful of hardware on her teeth. Needless to say, there were not many pictures taken of me during this pregnancy. After these braces were removed, shortly before giving birth, I was given a new set of retainers that I have faithfully worn ever since.

Both of my kids also had braces. Thankfully they didn’t have to have any permanent teeth removed. And luckily for them, they also don’t have any wisdom teeth. (Why are they called wisdom teeth? It’s because these teeth–the 3rd molars–erupt between the ages of 17-25, when a person enters adulthood and at an age of more maturity or wisdom.)

Not Such Wise Advice

And so I thought all was well with my teeth. I’ve been warned by my dentist to diligently keep my wisdom teeth clean. (It seems having wisdom teeth as an adult is not such good advice.) When I went in a few weeks ago to have a filling restored on one of my wisdom teeth, I was told that they couldn’t fill the tooth and I needed to have it removed.

Oh the fear that shot through my body. I walked out of the dentist office in total shock with a referral to an oral surgeon. It was not a good day.

I made an appointment right away to see the oral surgeon. The news just got worse. He recommended extracting 2 wisdom teeth (since the upper tooth would now have nothing to bite against). He went over all the procedural options and had me sign off on every possible bad outcome or risk that could result from the recommended extraction.

My childhood trauma was triggered leaving me in a state of shock, disillusionment, and fear.

Testing My Faith

As silly as it may sound, in the days that followed that appointment, my faith was put to the test. Because of my history with chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, I was concerned about possible adverse reactions to the anesthetic and a prolonged recovery. That wasn’t even on the oral surgeon’s list of risks.

We were leaving for Spain in 10 weeks. Some of my friends and family were suggesting that I put off the procedure until after the trip. I had a lot of inner conflict about the decision.

It wasn’t until I devoted some quality time in prayer that I started to get some peace. That was followed by the pieces falling into place and confirmation to have the surgery performed as soon as possible under anesthetic.

What God revealed to me in the process, was how distracting this situation was for me. It turned my focus away from Him and let Satan feed into my fears. I had to trust that the Lord was going to see me through it–calming my fears and healing my mouth.

I humbly asked for prayer for the surgery. I prayed with my husband before my appointment. He held my hand until I went under the anesthetic. My husband and son cared for my health needs following the surgery. I had an amazingly quick and pain-reduced recovery which I know is a combination of answered prayer and thanks to a homeopathic remedy to detox my body of the anesthesia.

My Big Mouth?

So do I really have a big mouth? I’ll let you decide.

A full set of teeth is 32 including the 4 wisdom teeth. Most people I talked to over the course of my decision making process told me they had their wisdom teeth taken out when they were young or they didn’t have any. My situation is less common.

The fact that I still have my wisdom teeth I think is proof that I do have a big mouth. And if that isn’t enough proof for you, just spend some time perusing my blog. I definitely have a big mouth for Jesus. It would take more than the removal of 2 wisdom teeth to silence my voice on His behalf.

A Journey to Brother Love, Part 2

Same father, different mother, but the same physical DNA runs through me and my half-brother. Thankfully, it’s our spiritual DNA (the Holy Spirit) that gives us the Power of Healing.

Journeys To Mother Love

With my brothers in 2014 My brother and I with our half-brother (center) in 2014

In the post, A Journey to Brother Love, Part 1, I shared how as an adult I was shocked to learn I had a half-brother. I only met him once, 18 years ago. The opportunity arose to meet him again recently. I didn’t want any regrets, so I traveled to see him.

From the moment we were reunited, my brother was friendly and open, even greeting me with a hug. It felt very welcoming. He is a charming and engaging man. Yet for me, the time spent together was surreal.

What do you say? How do you communicate with a brother who was raised by maternal grandparents since he was two years old because his mother died and he was abandoned by his father (my father)?

Does he even want relationship with me (us)? After all, we were…

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A Journey to Brother Love, Part 1

Breaking the generational pattern of abandonment is not easy, but there is Light and Hope along the way. Where is your healing journey leading you?

Journeys To Mother Love

1996 Reunion With my father and brothers in 1996

Recently a new pathway of healing opened up to me: a “journey to brother love.”

My father married many times and had children from multiple wives—my siblings being the last. I grew up knowing about an older half-sister, but never met her. I didn’t know about a half-brother I had until 18 years ago when my father reunited with him after 52 years of separation.

I was in my early 30s, just starting my own family when my father called to tell me about my half-brother. It was an ‘Oprah’ type story of amazing coincidences that led to their reunion.

I felt like my world had been turned upside down.

My father invited me and another sibling to meet him. The half-brother lived across country and was making a trip to our area. I eagerly obliged, or maybe obeyed is a better word. This…

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A Journey to Stepmother Love

Mother Love comes in many ways, shapes and sizes: birth moms, adopted moms, foster moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and girlfriends. For me, it unexpectedly came from a stepmother that I didn’t openly embrace from the start. Here’s a bit of that story on my publisher’s blog, journeystomotherlove.com. Happy Mother’s Day!

Journeys To Mother Love

Step-mother-love-01 I was nine years old when my parents divorced. I’ll never forget that day. After hearing the news, I ran into the woods behind our house and cried my eyes out. “Why? Why? Why?” I cried to God.

Those repressed memories surfaced a while back in a therapy session as I got in touch with the little Ardis who was hurting from the trauma of this event. I’ve processed this before, but this time I remembered something new. I remembered that I told my father I hated him. It became one of those pivotal moments in my life when I decided I had to be a BIG girl and stuff my emotions.

I surfaced from those woods, calm and collected. I WAS a big girl. But try as I might, that anger at what was going on between my parents was still there. Both of my parents soon remarried. I lived…

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In Search of a Mother’s Love

There is a hunger inside of me sometimes.  We are all born with it—the desire for love and relationship.  From an early age we are taught in life how and who fills that need.  It is generally filled by our parents.  In most cases, the responsibility falls on the mother.  But what if that mother isn’t equipped to take on that role or isn’t capable of bonding with the child?  What happens to the inner need?

Longing for LoveThe Longing for Love

The need doesn’t go away; we just find other ways to fill that emptiness and hunger for love and relationship—in either healthy or unhealthy ways.  I didn’t know that or understand the affects that my mother’s mental illness had on me until about ten years ago when my unhealthy ways of relating and compulsive behaviors finally caught up with me.

I’ve done a lot of healing work and spiritual growth in that last decade.  I now serve in a ministry where I can come alongside others who are also struggling with the hurts from the past and seeing themselves as God sees them.  Even though I know with my whole heart that Jesus came to give me life and ultimately fill my need for love, there are still times when life can get me down.

I still have a longing to be known and to know others.  It is a longing for deep relationship.  It is the search for a mother’s love that was lost.

Looking for Love

I’ve lived my whole life this way—being self-sufficient without close siblings and without involvement and emotional attachment from my parents.  I didn’t know what I was missing because I didn’t experience it.  Now, after a decade of healing and recovery work, I know.  I know because I have started to more intensely experience the loss of the women in my life who helped me to heal.

michelle-ventor-reason-season-lifetime1When I started recovery, I had virtually no female friends—only a few through work.  I didn’t know how to be a real friend.  As I started my recovery journey, I observed real authentic vulnerability in other women.  I was hungry for that.  I let down my walls and embraced this new way of relating.  There was freedom gained by not being a secret or thinking that I was the only one who experienced that depth of pain.

Those bonds formed felt sacred to me.  They became my mother, my sisters and my daughters.  Those relationships have been hard to let go of over the years.  Insert the ever increasing presence of social media, and I begin to wonder who my friends really are.  Do I want quality in my relationships or do I want quantity?  I choose quality, but that has its cost too, as it’s hard to fit in the time to maintain the intimacy.

Missing my Mother

Mother’s Day 2014 marks four years since I last saw my mother alive.  Her passing and end of life forgiveness poured love back into me in a whole new way—her love and God’s love.  And still the loss of never getting to know her as a person keeps me searching at times for the love and mentoring of a mother.  My inner child (my little Ardis) still longs for my real mother’s love.

look_into_the_mirrorI wish I could’ve had more time with her.  She’s generally not far away though.  If I slow down long enough to look for her, she stares back at me in the mirror, smiles, and tells me that she loves me.  The knowledge and hope that I will see her again in eternity makes the longing fade into the distance once more.

May your Mother’s Day be filled with the love of your family or other important people in your life.

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

Leaving a Legacy of Healing

The “Cats in the Cradle” is a 1974 folk song written by Harry Chapin.  It tells the story of a father being too busy for his son’s request for time together, and then later when the son is an adult the roles are reversed, with the father wanting to spend time with the son.  The words that stand out most in the song are “I’m gonna be like you dad, you know I’m gonna be like you”.

We all want our children to be like us, the good parts of us.  This song showcases how our actions speak louder than words and what we model to our children is of utmost importance.  It is part of the legacy that we leave them. 

I recently contributed a post on the Journeys to Mother Love blog about the legacy we leave for our children.  I hope you enjoy it reblogged here.

Leaving a Legacy of Healing.

And if you are not familiar with the song “Cats in the Cradle,” or want to give it another listen, I’ve also included a beautiful version of the song with Harry Chapin’s introductory comments about the song.

You Can’t go Home Again, or Can You?

Have you ever longed to go back to your childhood home—one that your family left many, many years ago?  Did you dare drive around in the neighborhood or maybe even knock on the door in hopes of connecting with the new residents and maybe getting a chance to go inside?   Or maybe your childhood memories were too painful to even think of doing such a thing.

This kind of chance of a lifetime recently presented itself to me—and like so many of these life coincidences; I took it as a sign from God to follow where He was leading me.

Home Sweet HomeIn the Neighborhood

It was on my 54th birthday—also the day that my driver’s license was expiring.  So a trip to the Department of Licensing became a high priority on this day—not something I really had time for or wanted to do.  I made the best of it though, even deciding to wear a special outfit so my ‘mug’ shot might have a chance of being pleasantly memorable.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I took more than a mental note of where I was.  My childhood home was around the corner.  A few weeks earlier, I had pulled out my memoir, still unworked on since last year’s NaNoWriMo.  I began the painful process of re-reading it, but stopped after the first chapter, the chapter about my mother’s nervous breakdown and living in this neighborhood.  After that reading, I felt God nudge me to contact the one last neighbor who I knew still lived in the neighborhood.  But I didn’t act on it.

Or can you?

Or can you?

Although this wasn’t the home or neighborhood I was born in, I knew God was giving me another nudge, on my birthday, to pursue this last link to my childhood.  I’d been to this neighborhood before several times as an adult.  It was one of the first places I visited when my husband and I moved to the state of Washington about 25 years ago.  At that time I went so far as to meet the residents, the people who bought the home from my parents in 1966.

This day’s visit was to the neighbor’s house though.  The name on the mailbox was still the surname of a childhood friend.  Maybe, just maybe, I would get some more insight into the day my mother had her nervous breakdown and our life on that street.

I knocked on the door.  There was no answer.  I was torn.  Should I leave a note under the door?  I just couldn’t believe that God brought me to this doorstep without as much as an answer.

My Childhood Home

So I took the bold step of going next door to my former home.  An elderly woman answered the door.  I told her a bit about who I was, a writer, etc., and asked about the neighbor.  I was surprised when she invited me into the home and even offered me a seat in the living room.

Hiding behind the 50-year old landscaping lies my childhood home.

It was surreal.  I had just written a post about the events of JFK’s assassination on that day—my birthday—50 years ago.  And here I was sitting in the same room where I watched the unfolding of those horrific events in our nation’s history.  I shed a tear or two in the retelling of the significance of that home.

The couple was quite kind to me.  They gave me free reign of the house, asked me things about the property, and what it was like back in those days.  The house seemed much smaller to me than I remembered, but that isn’t unusual in light of the fact I was a mere 3-6 years old when we lived there.

Regarding the neighbor, I found out that he had sold the house and moved out a month ago.  Too bad I didn’t follow that nudge back then, I thought to myself.  But his dementia would’ve precluded his ability to help me anyway.

The street sign may have read 'dead end', but the events of the day proved otherwise.

The street sign may have read ‘DEAD END’, but the events of the day proved otherwise.

What Lies Around the Corner?

It was all so unanticipated—to stop by the neighborhood, to knock on their door, and most assuredly to be invited inside.  Their invitation and interest was a precious gift to me, one that I’m not sure they were really able to fully comprehend. Out of my gratitude for their kindness to me, I gave them a signed copy of my book.

Plan as we may, we never really know for sure what lies ahead in our lives from day to day.  What if God is calling us to something just around the corner?  Would you heed to His nudge?  Would you blindly do something that to outsiders may look foolish or presumptuous?

Some may say I have a habit of doing those things.  Others see it as obedience and trusting God when I embrace these chance encounters.  I’m just grateful that He cares enough to give me these little kisses from above, and that others may be inspired to do the same—turning their healing into hope.

In the end, I really was able to go home again.  And that really was the proverbial icing on the cake for my 54th birthday.

A Grief That Can’t be Spoken

“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on.” No truer words were spoken with the loss of a child. Or sung. (Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Les Miserables).

Journeys To Mother Love

When my birthday rolled around this year on November 22, I was reminded again of the significance of that day in history. It was on my fourth birthday in 1963 that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and I remember it well.

I hadn’t heard the word “assassinate” before that day. The sorrow that gripped my family also gripped the nation. I didn’t like it. I wanted it to go away. But every day the television was awash in news stories as the nation prepared to bury our president.

Four days in history. Four days in mourning. Four days that shook our nation and the world, now commemorated 50 years ago.

My birthday link to the Kennedys left me with a fascination for this public family. I collected books and commemorative magazines over the years. The grief of the nation and the grief of the Kennedy family didn’t end with…

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Mothering Inadequacies

God heals us and satisfies the desires of our heart in such surprising ways. Meeting my Spanish family this past summer is confirmation of that.

Journeys To Mother Love

I was 33 years old when I had my first child. Like many women, I felt unsure of myself and ill-equipped to be a mother. Unlike many, though, I believed I had good reason for my misgivings.

My mother had a nervous breakdown when I was six. She was still able to function in her role as a housewife, but it left her emotionally unavailable to me. For whatever reason, she rarely spent time with me in the kitchen or preparing me for my role as a wife or mother.

As I grew up and went out on my own, I wondered whether I would ever be a mother or have kids of my own. I never had a strong desire to be around children. I didn’t have the longing, like I hear some women express, to have children to feel complete.

After ten years of marriage my husband and…

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Reclaiming Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day forever changed for me in May 2010. That was the last time I saw my mother alive.  It was also her last Mother’s Day.  Previous to that day I think the last time we were together on Mother’s Day was my senior year in high school—a span of 35 years.

Happy Mother's DaySeparated by Mental Illness

Over those many years Mother’s Day wasn’t something I looked forward to.  It was a day of obligatory cards or calls. She was remarried (again) and happy it seemed—that is until her husband died.  After that she drifted in and out of mental hospitals and eventually became a ward of the state.

I had tremendous guilt about my relationship with her.  I wanted a mother, but didn’t want her to be my mother.  Due to her mental illness and emotional instability she wasn’t able to teach me how to be a mother myself.  I had to figure it out on my own.  I didn’t hold that against her.  After all, I was pretty self-sufficient in those days.  I just accepted that she was mentally ill.  I chose to distance myself from her physically and emotionally and told myself it was for my own sanity.

Coming Together Again

My final Mother's Day gift to my mom

My final Mother’s Day gift to my mom

When mom had her stroke in 2009, God nudged me back by her side for two visits. The Lord was working on my heart on those trips.  As she lingered on hospice, living day to day with the aid of a feeding tube, God was making it clear His work wasn’t done between us yet.  That led me to that last visit on Mother’s Day 2010.

Between that trip—the last time I saw her alive—and the day she passed away nine months later, Pedro and Rosa, my Spanish family, entered our lives.  And the rest, as they say, is history—forever documented in Journeys to Mother Love.

Mother’s Day Reclaimed

Those first few Mother’s Days after she passed away were hard for me.  I deliberately spent them entrenched with my immediate family, to distract me from those painful reminders.  Now, I celebrate Mother’s Day with Rosa, as my kindred spirit of mother love—although it is one week earlier in Spain.

Mother's Day Gift of LifeAs strange as it may sound, I feel like every day is Mother’s Day to me now.  My mom’s death in February 2011 brought about a rebirth in me that forever changed the way I view my life and Mother’s Day.

It was as if her death brought me life, not because of any burden I was carrying of guilt or shame, as some might do.  It was because I got in touch with pieces of myself that were previously buried deep within me—parts of my identity that weren’t ok to express.   God revealed to me in her passing that I am beautifully and wonderfully made in ways like my mother that I couldn’t bear to embrace before.

So every day really is Mother’s Day to me, because of my gratitude to my mom, and to the Lord for giving me back my life.  I have reclaimed the real purpose of Mother’s Day in my life.  It is the incredible gift that mother’s give to everyone—the gift of life.

Regardless of the status of your relationship with your mother, my wish for you is a Mother’s Day that is filled with pleasant memories and gratitude to the one who gave you life.

Journeys To Mother LoveMore “Journeys to Mother Love” & Free Ebook

If this is the first time you’ve stumbled upon my blog, I encourage you to also check out journeystomotherlove.com, the blog hosted by Cladach Publishing, the publisher of Journeys to Mother Love.  This blog, dedicated to encouraging each other in mother/child relationship healing, is authored by the nine contributors to “Journeys to Mother Love”, and invites others to share their stories.

Now through Monday, May 13, 2013, get your free Kindle ebook of Journeys to Mother Love at Amazon.com.  Since this is free, after you’ve read the book, would you do me and my publisher a huge favor by writing a review? And don’t forget to subscribe, follow, like, pin, press this or share in your favorite social media!

May these stories inspire you on your journey to mother love.  Happy Mother’s Day!

  • WELCOME to my site!

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

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

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    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29th, 2018
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    © 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.

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